February 2024 News: Protecting Black Children's Health

February 2024 News: Protecting Black Children’s Health

We honor and celebrate Black History Month by highlighting the health of the 700,000+ Black children and youth who currently live in our state. Our updated fact sheet, created in partnership with the California Black Health Network and the California Black Women’s Health Project and a part of our A Child Is a Child fact sheet series, highlights how systemic racism shapes the lives of Black children and uplifts the incredible strengths of Black culture and connection that serve as protective factors, ultimately impacting their success and healthy development. 

Together with our partners, The Children’s Partnership recognizes the significance of the introduction of a Reparations Priority Bill Package by the California Legislative Black Caucus and its contributions to advancing a children’s health equity agenda that seeks to provide all children with the resources and opportunities they need to thrive. The series of 14 priority legislative measures in the areas of education, civil rights, criminal legal reform, health and business is a first step in a multi-year effort to implement the recommendations of the Task Force to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans.

Read and share our 2024 Black Children’s Health fact sheet, which highlights inequities across health coverage and access, mental health, housing, economic security, oral health, food access, school success, digital equity, safety and more. The data is a call to action to align ourselves around a shared whole-child agenda to protect Black children, children of color, and all children.Learn more about the work of the California Black Health Network and the California Black Women’s Health Project.

Learn more about the work of the California Black Health Network and the California Black Women’s Health Project.

Spread the Word to #KeepKidsCovered

The Children’s Partnership and our ALL IN partners are proud to offer this toolkit to schools, early care and education providers, and other child champions. The ALL IN to #KeepKidsCovered Community Outreach Toolkit helps California families get information about Medi-Cal renewals, and the outreach videos star community health workers who serve diverse communities and speak to families in their native languages, including English, Spanish, Punjabi, Tagalog and Cantonese. 

Share this content and help spread the word about Medi-Cal renewals by downloading or linking to them on social media, in newsletters or on your website!

Mayra E. Alvarez Lends Expertise on Medi-Cal Redetermination Trends at Kaiser Permanente Briefing

On Feb. 7, TCP President Mayra E. Alvarez served as a panelist for a webinar, “California Policy Briefing on Medi-Cal Redetermination: Trends and Opportunities,” hosted by Kaiser Permanente.

Panelists dove into dialogue around the federal Medicaid unwinding period and how to engage in the redetermination process, otherwise known as annual eligibility renewal; what the implications for communities are; and how to prevent an increase in uncovered or uninsured rates.

Alvarez underscored that keeping families enrolled in health care coverage is essential to ensuring that children and families are thriving and healthy with undisrupted care. She amplified that there are over 15 million people who depend on California’s Medi-Cal program, including 5.7 million children – 70% of whom are children of color. “It’s on all of us – our government partners, our health providers, our community leaders, our schools and our families – to do all we can to protect Californians from losing coverage,” she said.

Kristen Golden Testa Uplifts Medi-Cal Parent Voices at Legislative Briefing

On Feb. 8, Kristen Golden Testa, TCP’s policy director for health, joined our partners at End Child Poverty California for their IMAGINE legislative briefing in Sacramento and presented on the need for continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children.

Golden Testa spoke about how keeping children covered – by guaranteeing continuous Medi-Cal coverage up to age 5 – is an essential health equity strategy for our youngest children to have a healthy start in life. “Having stable coverage is essential to parents’ peace of mind that we can access health care for our children when they need it,” she said. From TCP’s focus groups with parents/guardians of color, Golden Testa shared stories of the impacts on children who experience even short gaps in coverage. For example, a parent from Fresno said, “In that lapse in coverage, there were months that my daughter didn’t have any coverage. She had appointments and she had to be in therapy, and everything had to stop.”

Testimonies from participating families at the IMAGINE briefing were moving and inspiring. There was a lot of courage and dedication on display for the work ahead.

Angela M. Vázquez Provides Education on Prop. 1

TCP and partners from Children Now, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, and First 5 Association of California held an informational webinar on Proposition 1 and the implications of the measure on children and youth. Prop. 1 would change the Mental Health Services Act to include drug treatment services; redirect a significant portion of ongoing funds to support homeless services; and establish a $6.4 billion bond to build facilities for housing, mental health care and drug/alcohol treatment. Angela M. Vázquez, TCP’s policy director for mental health, presented alongside other policy experts and delivered several valuable resources for learning more about the proposition.

The proposition will be on the March 5 ballot for voters to decide the outcome.

On Feb. 7, TCP and the California School-Based Health Alliance presented a joint briefing, “Strategizing Health Equity for Children & Youth.”

Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo spoke about the importance of including youth voices in the policymaking process, and incorporating their lived experiences in policies addressing gaps in education and health care for children and youth. Saun-Toy Trotter, LMFT, program director of school-based health centers at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland, and Fiona Lu, policy intern at TCP, also shared their insights on the importance of mental health promotion and wellness programs in addition to clinical interventions for students who are struggling.

To learn more about how children and youth in California have struggled with their mental health in the last several years and our recommendations for ameliorating the issue, read TCP’s brief: COVID-19 Intensified Pre-Existing Mental Health Crisis for Children.

For Our Children’s Future: 30th Anniversary Speaker Series

The Children’s Partnership will host the next event in its 30th Anniversary Speaker Series, “A Child’s Right to Thrive,” a conversation with Melanie Fontes Rainer, director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Join us for this online fireside chat between TCP President Mayra E. Alvarez and Director Fontes Rainer, as they discuss some of the most pressing topics in child health equity today.

This event is part of our For Our Children’s Future: 30th Anniversary Speaker Series, which we kicked off in October 2023 to celebrate 30 years of advocacy for California’s children at TCP.

A Child’s Right to Thrive
A conversation with Melanie Fontes Rainer, director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Details and RSVP to come!

Mayra E. Alvarez Talks Medi-Cal, Social Drivers of Health
Radio Bilingüe invited TCP President Mayra E. Alvarez to speak on its program Línea Abierta about the importance of continuous Medi-Cal coverage, issues with renewals, and TCP’s recommendations to make keeping coverage easier for families, as well as the social drivers of health that affect children and families. Línea Abierta is the first and only Spanish-language news show broadcast nationally over the public radio satellite system.

TCP Co-sponsorship of Digital Equity Bill Mentioned
The San Fernando Sun noted that TCP is a co-sponsor of AB 2239, introduced by Assemblymember Mia Bonta (D-Oakland). The bill would make California the first U.S. state to codify the Federal Communication Commission’s newly adopted definition of digital discrimination into law.

TCP Research Cited in Complaint by National Immigration Law Center
The National Immigration Law Center filed a multi-state complaint with the federal Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services alleging that at least 12 states, including California, are failing to provide individuals with limited English proficiency with timely and reliable call center support. The complaint cited TCP’s recent focus group research with parents of color discussing the impacts their children face from gaps in coverage and challenges with the Medi-Cal renewal process.

Mayra E. Alvarez Invited to Inaugural Latino Speakers Bureau
The Hill highlighted TCP President Mayra E. Alvarez’s role as an inaugural member of the Latino Speakers Bureau, an initiative of accountability movement Aquí that works to uplift diverse Latine voices from across the country and ensure accurate representation across the public and private sectors.