Legislative Guiding Principles
At WithinReach, we believe that healthy, resilient families make strong communities. For over 25 years, we have worked to identify and resolve the most pressing concerns facing vulnerable children and families. Driven by the goal of breaking down barriers that prevent families from living healthy lives, WithinReach strives to connect families to the resources they need to be healthy, and work with coalitions and partner organizations to advocate for, educate about, and support the following pressing legislative concerns.
Health Care Access
In October of 2013, one million people in Washington State were without health insurance. WithinReach will work to ensure Washington families have access to quality health care. This includes protecting health care programs, such as Apple Health, and increasing funding to support outreach efforts to reach under-served and underrepresented families in our community. With the Affordable Care Act being almost fully implemented now, it is especially important to get the newly insured to not just have insurance, but to access health care and focus on prevention.
Washington State is the 22nd hungriest state in the country. WithinReach will advocate for families to have access to enough nutritious food. This includes opportunities to expand Washington’s state-funded food assistance programs and increase year-round access to programs like free and reduced price lunch and breakfast in communities with high-needs schools. When children have improved food security, the result is better learning, fewer discipline incidents and better attendance, so that kids are ready to succeed in the 21st Century. This can dramatically improve many health, education, and societal outcomes.
Eighty-five percent of the brain’s development occurs before age three, making the first years of life critical to a child’s future success. Every step of a child’s development is critical from home life and parent involvement to early learning and health care. Because of the importance of all these pieces, WithinReach advocates for improvements in supporting and monitoring child development so children can be ready for school and reach their full academic, social, and personal potential.
Washington’s childhood immunization rates have improved over the years and most recently reached 75% (3 in 4 kids protected). This is good news, however, we still have work to do. At WithinReach, we support opportunities to increase access to and education about immunizations. If we are not vigilant in promoting immunizations, we risk people becoming complacent, not getting immunized, and creating a potential threat to our public health and the stability of our economy.
Breastfeeding is an important predictor of the health of both a mom and her baby, including reducing the risk of asthma, leukemia, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and obesity in children, and some cancers and Type 2 diabetes in mothers. Nine out of ten babies in Washington begin life breastfeeding. However, only 20% of babies are fed only breast milk for the recommended six months. We advocate for a state-level system to promote, protect, and support breastfeeding as the norm in infant feeding.
In working on issues that relate to these guiding principles, we hope to pass policies, support programs, and create system changes that improve the health of families and their communities. Our organization has touched over 250,000 people throughout Washington. This has given us the unique perspective of understanding their needs and what can be done to improve outcomes. It gives us the opportunity to be the voice for the voiceless.