News & Notes:

Health Care Bill Threatens Millions of Children

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act, which would cut Medicaid considerably and allow insurance companies to charge people with pre-existing conditions significantly more for coverage.

Some estimate that Medicaid, called Medi-Cal in California, will experience $800 billion in cuts over 10 years if this bill is enacted. Since children make up the proportion of Medicaid enrollees, it’s likely they will bear the brunt of these cuts.

Medi-Cal is a critical support for young children and their families in California. Half of the state’s children, about 5.8 million children, receive health care from Medi-Cal, and one in four Contra Costa residents receives these benefits.

California was one of 32 states that expanded the number of people eligible for Medicaid when the ACA (Obamacare) was passed. This enabled more people to get health insurance, and resulted in record low numbers of uninsured residents in the state, including just 3% of the state’s children.

The AHCA would phase out the Medicaid expansion and cap the amount of funding states receive for the program. This means states will receive the same amount of funding regardless of need. To make up the difference, states likely will reduce eligibility and benefits.

If the bill passes the Senate and is signed into law by President Trump, it will threaten guaranteed access to quality health care for over 35 million children.

First 5 Contra Costa is dedicated to ensuring that all of our county’s children have access to needed health care and preventive services. The AHCA is likely to change over the next several weeks in the Senate. We’ll be keeping an eye on it. In the meantime, here’s some more information about the bill:


May Revise Restores Promised ECE Funding

Governor Brown released his May Revision to the State Budget for FY 2017-18 last week, which restores promised funding for early care and education for children in California.

The initial budget released in January put a hold on promised multi-year funding increases, approved last fiscal year and set to begin in FY 2017-18, to expand child care opportunities and increase provider reimbursement rates. Based upon modest revenue improvements, the Governor’s May Revision pledges to fully restore funding, lifting the “pause” on the promised investments in child care.

The May Revision calls for increases to reimbursement rates for programs offering state subsidized child care and funding increases that will allow an additional 2,959 children to attend full-day state preschool programs.

Although the May revise budget provides some good news, the California Budget and Policy Center found that child care and preschool is still funded 20 percent below pre-recession levels. A typical single mother in California would have to spend two-thirds of her paycheck to cover child care costs. Statewide, more than 1.2 million children eligible for subsidized child care did not receive services from state programs in 2015.

Citing ongoing pressures from Washington and acknowledging that economic recovery cannot last forever, Governor Brown was adamant about curtailing spending and continued to tout fiscal prudence. He warned that any future economic downturn will result in cuts.

“This is an improvement on the January proposal and I thank Governor Brown for recognizing the importance of quality child care in improving the lives of working families and creating a path for success for future generations,” said California Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León (D – Los Angeles).


Nonprofits Gather to Protect Children from Immigration Crackdown

More than 170 children’s services providers and advocates attended the forum we hosted last month to strategize ways to protect immigrant children and families in Contra Costa County.

“Folks have come to our First 5 Centers looking for information, for support, for safety, even as they may be disengaging from government benefits or schools for fear of their status being questioned,” said Sean Casey, Executive Director of First 5 Contra Costa. “We convened this forum to address these concerns, to provide concrete support and resources, and to encourage all of us speak up for families, however we can. No child in Contra Costa should become the unwitting victim of other peoples’ hate.”

Since the Trump administration enacted expanded detention and deportation policies, many immigrant families have gone “back into the shadows,” declining public benefits like foods stamps and health care for their children, avoiding school or child care programs, and living in a heightened state of stress and fear.

The half-day forum featured child development experts, attorneys, and advocates who provided the latest information on immigration policies and rights, the detrimental impact mass deportation policies have on children and families, tips for easing children’s fears, and resources such as family plans and local efforts to fight discriminatory detention practices in Contra Costa County.

“A parent’s job is to shelter children and buffer them from unrelenting stress. If parents are unavailable due to their own anxiety, they are less available to provide this to their children,” said Amy Weiss, the Director of Refugee and Immigrant Services at Jewish Family & Children’s Services East Bay. “The fright that a parent has is contagious for their children.”

Participants learned about signs to look for that may indicate young children are in distress, such as delays in language development, behaviors that alternate from one extreme to another, frequent tantrums, withdrawing, disorganized play, difficulty with separation, and night terrors or trouble sleeping.

Angie Junck, a supervising attorney with Immigration Legal Resource Center, provided information about immigrant rights and the importance of developing a family preparedness plan. She warned that powers of attorney have no legal effect for child custody issues, and parents should not use them for this purpose.

“We need to get the message out that this is a public health crisis,” she said. “The narrative in the media is ‘this person is bad and should be deported’ without understanding the interconnectedness of our families and communities. What is our country going to look like with a system of mass deportation and parents not there to take care of their children?”

Participants also heard about local efforts to pass sanctuary policies and launch a rapid response system modeled after Alameda’s successful, well-funded program. Called the Contra Costa Immigrant Legal and Education Partnership, Contra Costa’s rapid response would include a hotline, know-your-rights coordinator, community responders, and legal assistance for detained immigrants. Advocates have presented a proposal seeking funding to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

Ali Saidi, a Contra Costa County Public Defender, told participants that ICE cannot legally access non-public parts of their facilities, or review client information, unless they have a judicial warrant. He also said to refer to this sample organizational policy to know what to do if “ICE comes knocking.”

Many of the panelists talked about the fact Contra Costa County is the only Bay Area county renting jail space to ICE, and how coupled with the county’s plans to expand the West County jail facility, makes immigrant families in our county particularly vulnerable.

Attendees were invited to consider how they planned to take the information presented and put it to use. They committed to support children and families through a number of means, including sharing resources and legal services with them, helping them complete a preparedness plan, and talking to parents about helping their children feel safe. Many also plan to establish protocols for how to respond to ICE at their agency.

“We need a revolution of values. No human being is illegal,” said opening speaker Reverend Kamal Hassan, from Richmond’s Sojourner Truth Presbyterian Church. “Human life is more important than the fear of the privileged. Do your work. Help the people.”

Watch a CCTV video of the forum. View news coverage on Telemundo and Univision. Find resources, services, and support for immigrant children and families here


Learn How our Funding Benefits Children and Families

Our Data Dashboard has been updated! Check it out for the latest information about our investments and the many ways children and families benefit as a result.

Our interactive Dashboard is divided into 5 sections and includes easy-to-understand data about our investments, demographics on children and parents served, and key outcomes related to quality child care, early intervention and screening, and family support.

Take a look and learn more about how our funded programs are improving the lives of thousands of children and families in Contra Costa County.