Monthly Archives: February 2014

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    Frockt Sponsored Amendments Improve Senate Budget By Expanding Children’s Health Care And Protecting Most Vulnerable

Frockt Sponsored Amendments Improve Senate Budget By Expanding Children’s Health Care And Protecting Most Vulnerable

February 27th, 2014|

Late Wednesday evening the Senate Ways & Means Committee passed SB 6002, the 2014 Senate supplemental budget proposal. Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle, amended that budget in committee to better support and protect vulnerable young people and children.

One Frockt amendment added $561,000 (and $693,000 from the federal government) to the budget to pay for Bright Futures autism screening for children at 18 months old as a part of the state’s Apple Health for Kids program. This investment is strongly supported by the Washington State Pediatricians and other children’s health groups. The American Academy of Pediatrics describes Bright Futures as “a national health promotion and disease prevention initiative that addresses children’s health needs in the context of family and community.” Nevertheless, neither of the proposed budgets from the Senate or the House had any funding for the Bright Futures protocol, despite Governor Inslee’s call for about $2 million in funding in his proposed budget.

“This investment is evidence-based and widely accepted as a vital screening for young kids and their families,” said Frockt. “My hope is that we can hold this investment in the final budget and raise the prospect of fully funding other aspects of Bright Futures in the years ahead. Despite having the very successful Apple Heath for Kids program, we don’t pay for all the appropriate and recommended screenings. I hope we can reverse this trend over time. This is a start.”

Additionally, Frockt increased funding for youth suicide prevention through the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to $390,000 – an increase of $150,000 above the $240,000 for suicide prevention in the original budget. Another amendment he offered secured $200,000 to the budget to help the state’s Office of Public Guardianship. Administered by the courts, the Office of Public Guardianship provides guardians for people who are incapable of caring for themselves and protecting their own interests, lack the funds to pay private guardians and
have no family or friends who can serve as volunteer guardians.

Frockt also ensured that the state will improve funding for Ryther, the critical non-profit in North Seattle that provides behavioral rehabilitation services to children who need acute mental health treatment.

“No budget can fund all that is needed, and they all have to be viewed in that light,” said Frockt. “However, I listened to the testimony, particularly on things like the need for additional counselors to prevent the tragedy of youth suicides, and I felt it was important to find some additional resources for these very critical needs. In particular, I hope that amendment will save lives. I appreciate both parties for agreeing to these vital amendments.”

Other amendments supported and passed by the committee included restoration of $1.8 million in public health funding cuts and an amendment by Sen. Andy Billig to fund the Reach Out and Read program for young children.

The budget proposal will be voted on the floor of the Senate on Thursday, and a final budget agreement will be negotiated between the Senate and the House’s budget proposal.

Opening opportunities for foster youth

February 25th, 2014|

Last week I had the opportunity to meet some really stunning young adults. When I originally sponsored the Prudent Parent bill (SB 6479), the advocates explained the nuanced reasoning behind why the legislation is important. It all seemed pretty straight forward to me, which is why I didn’t hesitate to put the bill in the hopper, moving the process from a nice idea, into a bill, on the way to becoming a law.

What I did not realize is what this legislation means in everyday lives of youth in foster care. Did you know that for a youth in foster care to go on a school field trip, to go to a college fair, or to play on a school’s sports team, it is very likely they will have to have their social worker’s signature? Since their foster parent is not their legal guardian, filling out a permission slip is not a straightforward ordeal.

The young adults I met didn’t get their fair shake at high school, but that hasn’t stopped them from finding success. One young man was a rising star on his high school football team with colleges already scouting him in his sophomore year. But when he went into the foster care system at 16, he couldn’t get his waivers for football signed and had to drop off the team. Then he dropped out of high school when he aged out of foster care and didn’t have a place to live. He worked odd jobs to make ends meet, but inevitably fell into homelessness for two years. Today he holds a regular job, lives in an apartment, and is a productive member of our community. Though he is back on his feet, he told me he often wonders what might have been.

The question remains for me: are we going to set these youth up for success while they are in our foster care system, or are we going to limit their chances to live like their peers? The Prudent Parent bill I sponsored is just one more step to setting our foster youth up for success with the chance to grow up like their peers. I am hoping we can pass it this year.

Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day

February 3rd, 2014|

This past Wednesday was Housing and Homelessness Advocacy Day, and I had the chance to meet with 46th Legislative District constituents from YouthCare and the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance. Every time I meet with these groups I am moved and Wednesday was no different. These kids have gone through more in their short lives and are stronger than most adults I know.

 

10 years ago one of our constituents was homeless and as he said, high on drugs. When speaking to us today his past is not apparent – he is healthy, and articulate. He credited services from the Housing and Essential Needs program for saving his life. He is living proof that safety net programs save lives. The people who succeed are often invisible because the programs create productive members of our community, and we don’t know about the struggles they faced and the help that they got.

 

Another constituent who is a barista told us about how she had to pay ten screening fees of $35 each before she was accepted as a renter. $350 is 1/3 of her monthly budget. It is unconscionable to me that someone must pay 1/3rd of their budget for the same piece of paper being re-printed multiple times. We need laws that are fair to landlords AND fair to tenants.

 

We still have a lot of work to do to and we had a lot of energy at the Capitol today, but the momentum needs to continue to solve these issues.

 

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