For Immediate Release:
May 13, 2022
California’s May Budget Revision: A Secure Future for Children and Families
Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom released the May Revision to his proposed State Budget for FY 2022-23, reflecting important progress to provide children and families access to the resources they need to thrive, including economic supports, housing, child care access and health care. However, as many California families from historically marginalized communities continue to struggle, we must do more to ensure the budget’s investments are equitable and protect children from these communities from the continued devastating impacts of the pandemic.
“The Children’s Partnership (TCP) applauds the governor’s revised budget and its important steps to set us on a path to heal and rebuild, including key investments in child care, education and health care affordability for families,” said TCP President, Mayra E. Alvarez. “However, with the historic budget surplus, we cannot miss the opportunity to double down on our commitment to California’s most marginalized children – keeping them enrolled in health coverage, supporting their financial security and further prioritizing their mental health – from their earliest years. We look forward to working closely with the governor and the legislature to put our values into action and ensure the well-being of all California’s children.”
As our country continues to navigate the persistent challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as ongoing racial injustices that impact children’s health and well-being, our leaders must address how communities of color continue to be disproportionately impacted by systemic barriers that make it more difficult for them to be healthy and build prosperous lives.
TCP recommends that the administration and legislature further their commitment to advancing child health equity by also funding:
- Continuous Medi-Cal coverage for children ages 0 to 5. We commend the governor for including important expansions in financial protections for Californian’s health coverage. However, helping children stay enrolled in that coverage is critical to the security that health care coverage affords. Disruption in health coverage is especially problematic for young children, particularly children of color who face inequities in access to critical preventive services. Continuous coverage is the foundation of care continuity and promotes access to the essential health services all children need to grow up safe, healthy and ready to succeed in school and life. As the budget moves forward, we support the senate’s inclusion of this policy.
- Infant and early childhood mental health services and provider training for children ages 0 to 5: We applaud the administration’s ongoing commitment to ensuring mental health and well-being for California’s children and youth. The youth mental health crisis is longstanding and escalating, especially for children and youth of color. Still, in order to truly prevent mental health crises and suicide, California must move upstream to prevent stressors and Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) in early childhood from progressing into toxic stress and future mental health conditions, especially for young children from marginalized communities of color. Though we applaud the historic investment last year in the Children & Youth Behavioral Initiative (CYBHI), without a clear plan or dedicated funding, the CYBHI will miss serving the critical needs of infants and toddlers. We are requesting a one-time $250 million General Fund appropriation over four years to support infant and early childhood mental health services and provider training for children ages 0 to 5, which will ensure whole-child, family and community well-being. You can sign on here to support.
- Community health workers trained and recruited in child health: Community health workers and promotores (CHW/Ps) can help address access and equity gaps in children’s preventive services. We thank the governor for recommitting to recruiting, training and certifying 25,000 new CHWs in the May Revise and also request that child health and development be an area of focus for this investment.
- Essential food assistance to all who call California home, including children and youth: An equitable food safety net for Californians of all ages that does not discriminate on the basis of immigration status is critical for millions of low-income Californians. A child’s health reflects the health of the adults they rely on, and many children in immigrant families in California live in mixed generation households and rely on their grandparents and other older family members. As such, we applaud the governor for expanding the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to ensure that income-eligible family members who are 55+ can access food benefits. However, it is vital that children and youth also be able to access these benefits because of the detrimental impact that food insecurity has on child health and development, including chronic health conditions, educational delays, cognitive and behavioral problems and mental health issues.
- Life-supporting health benefits to all, no matter their immigration status: Health care and coverage affordability remains a challenge for too many California families. Studies have shown that increasing health coverage for adults means that more children will also have coverage. We applaud the governor’s investments to expand Medi-Cal to cover all income-eligible adults ages 50+, impacting more than 185,000 individuals (Health4All). However, we recommend a much sooner date for the full expansion in order for Californians to receive the benefit quicker during the budget year.
- Financial supports for children who have lost family members due to COVID-19: We commend the governor for his continued attention to the economic crisis facing California families. As we consider how to support those hardest hit, we must prioritize the estimated 20,000 California children who have lost a parent or primary caregiver to the COVID-19 pandemic. These children are in critical need of direct financial support to recover from the pandemic, which can be done through further investments in tax credits, cash payments or bonds that will help support the economic stability of these children.
We are also encouraged by the following additional investments in the governor’s May Revision that are dedicated to advancing child health equity:
- Additional investments in addressing the child and youth mental health crisis. The addition of $290 million for addressing the ongoing and escalating child and youth mental health crisis is welcome, especially with $40 million explicitly dedicated to reducing disparities in suicide for Black, Native, Latinx and foster youth. With the majority of these additional investments going to community-based programs and strategies, we are excited about the potential to involve low-income and youth of color in co-creating the conditions necessary for their healing. Additionally, the parent support and training contained within the $85 million for Wellness and Mindfulness programs is reflective of the two-generation approaches that are especially impactful for preventing mental health conditions and trauma in infants and toddlers who are uniquely dependent on the adults in their lives to have their social and emotional needs met.
- Increase in reimbursement of services for doulas. Doulas are a critical component of advancing health equity for people of color to help address stark disparities impacting people of color, especially those from Black and Native American communities. The May Revision’s doubling of the maximum reimbursement rate per birth from an average of $450 to $1,094 per birth is a step in the right direction to ensuring that doula services are widely accessible and that they are compensated with a living wage.
- Continued funding for the Navigator grant program: Given the public health emergency (PHE) unwinding process that families will likely be facing this coming year, community enrollment assistance will now be more important than ever to ensure families do not lose their Medi-Cal coverage. We particularly appreciate the four-year funding of $60 million which will offer greater stability for community organizations.
- Media and outreach funding to Medi-Cal beneficiaries: Similarly, we are pleased with the April 1 budget proposal that includes $25 million for media and outreach. As Medi-Cal resumes coverage renewals after the PHE ends, we share the administration’s priority to maximize continuity of coverage for Medi-Cal beneficiaries. A statewide and targeted outreach campaign is needed to encourage beneficiaries to update their contact information with their counties and to educate them on the implications of their eligibility once the COVID-19 PHE ends.
- Early childhood included in Equity and Practice Transformation Grants: The May Revision proposes an additional $100 million ($50 million General Fund) to further support early childhood-focused efforts, including grants focused on encouraging health care provider integration with other early childhood focused programs. This presents an opportunity to strengthen implementation of the new Medi-Cal dyadic care/family therapy benefit, connect families with young children with positive developmental screenings to developmental services in the community and support connections to infant and early childhood mental health services within clinics and in community-based settings.
TCP will continue its advocacy to ensure our shared values are reflected in the 2022-23 budget as we advance a just and equitable agenda for California’s children and families.
The Children’s Partnership (TCP)
TCP envisions a California where all children—regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth—have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive, and its mission is to advance this vision of child health equity through research, policy and community engagement. Learn more at www.childrenspartnership.org.