California's 2021 State Budget: Investments That Advance Child Health Equity

California’s 2021 State Budget: Investments That Advance Child Health Equity

For Immediate Release:
June 30, 2021

Aracely Navarro

(213) 341-0271 (ext. 135)

[Los Angeles, CA] Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom is expected to sign the 2021 Budget Act (“Budget”), advancing numerous policies to provide critically needed investments that support the health and well-being of California’s children and families. We are grateful that the budget includes funding for a number of programs aligned with The Children’s Partnership’s (TCP) child health equity agenda that focus on addressing the needs of children from historically marginalized communities. We thank the administration and Legislature for their tremendous effort to address the immediate needs of low-income and working-class families, communities of color and immigrants, who have simultaneously experienced the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in cases, deaths and economic instability while at the same time shouldering the work providing essential services that has allowed others to remain safe at home. The Children’s Partnership recognizes that racial justice is paramount to well-being and we have a moral imperative to focus our efforts on addressing the specific needs of children and families from these communities through a whole child whole family approach that would help ensure an equitable recovery for our communities and our state. 

TCP supported a number of child health equity proposals adopted in the final budget that address the myriad challenges that threaten the health and well-being of children and the adults they rely on that have been amplified by the pandemic. These include investments supporting child and youth mental health in schools through the Behavioral Health Initiative; increasing access to health coverage regardless of immigration status for people over 50; integrating a comprehensive community health workforce into the delivery of care by providing community health worker/promotores and doula services as a covered benefit in the Medi-Cal program; making broadband available for all; and expanding food benefits to more Californians, no matter their immigration status. These proposals indicate a strong commitment to improve the health and well-being of children and their families; however, opportunities remain to further advance California’s bold vision to be a California for all. 

TCP is eager to assist the administration and Legislature in ensuring that children and families recover and heal from the pandemic through a continued racial equity lens towards long-term progress with the following proposals:

  • Increase access to critical preventive services through continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children from birth to age 5. Stable coverage is particularly important during this period when 90 percent of brain development occurs. 
  • Expand early childhood mental health and trauma-informed care investments to explicitly address the mental health and well-being of our youngest Californians between 0 and 5. These are critical developmental years in a child’s life, and their relationships with caring adults, including parents and child care workers, will serve as critical protective factors against the consequences of unrelenting stress and trauma from the last year. We will continue to inform and encourage targeted investments that can be used to support early childhood mental health.
  • Strengthen access to Medical-Legal Partnerships for COVID-19 recovery efforts and ensure communities most impacted by the pandemic have access to the legal supports and resources necessary for a healthy and nurturing environment in their community. California’s Latinx, Black, Pacific Islander and immigrant communities and families continue to face heightened poverty and food insecurity, evictions and homelessness, as well as a lack or loss of health coverage. To eliminate inequities, leaders must prioritize investments for children and families facing the greatest challenges through a “Whole Child Whole Family” approach that provides integrated, coordinated and easily accessible services across various issue areas.

TCP appreciates that this year’s budget recognizes that while there is a windfall, the majority of California’s marginalized children and families experienced a different reality. We urge lawmakers to continue striving for race equity-driven justice through the appropriation and adoption of funding and policies that will create a California that focuses on its most marginalized communities. We look forward to TCP’s inclusion in this process.