BLOG: Child Health Equity Legislative and Budget Victories in CA’s legislative session

BLOG: Child Health Equity Legislative and Budget Victories in CA’s legislative session

BLOG: Child Health Equity Legislative and Budget Victories in CA’s Legislative Session

by Gabriella Barbosa, Managing Director of Policy

The Children’s Partnership (TCP) works with local, state and national partners to advance public policies that reach our vision of a California where each of the state’s 9 million children – regardless of their race, ethnicity or place of birth – have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and thrive.

This vision of health equity guides our advocacy work in the state legislature. Our policy agenda centers the experiences of children and families of color to address inequities in health, mental health, housing, economic stability, food, early childhood development, COVID-19 and other areas that shape their well-being.  

After analyzing hundreds of bills and budget proposals, we prioritized 26 bills and budget proposals that align with and help reach our policy agenda’s goals of a California where all children, no matter their background or identity, are healthy; have strong, economically stable and connected families; and grow up in safe and welcoming communities. 

Together with coalition partners, we created and shared fact sheets, drafted and signed onto letters of support, provided testimony and “me toos”, and engaged in education around the importance of the passage of these policies to support the health and well-being of California’s children of color. 

This year, 22 were signed into law! These new laws and funding support children and families across a range of issues including health, mental health, maternal and infant health, education, early childhood development, economic stability, food and housing access and more! Many were led by our partners including Black Women for Wellness, California Immigrant Policy Center, California Pan Ethnic Health Network, Nourish California, Catalyst California, and Californians Together.   

We also acknowledge that we have more work to do to advance child health equity. There were a number of opportunities missed by our state legislature and Governor to prevent future inequities from developing by investing more in children and families this year. These include a specific budget allocation that supports infant and early childhood mental health, legislation that would have required the CA Department of Health Care Services to provide Medi-Cal’s Comprehensive Perinatal Services Program benefit for one-year post-pregnancy, and expanding unemployment benefits to all people, no matter their immigration status, amongst others. 

Nonetheless, The Children’s Partnership celebrates these wins as a step forward in moving our state closer to a California where all children, no matter their background or identity, are healthy and thriving. 



  • Customize Medi-Cal reforms for child-specific systems of care and treat families and communities as experts.

    • AB 2402 (TCP-Sponsored) (Rubio) – Would ensure young children up to age 5 have continuous multi-year health coverage during a time when 90% of their brain development occurs. The provisions of the bill were included in the 2022-23 Budget Act to begin in 2025.
    • AB 1995 (Arambula) – Eliminates premiums for certain child populations in Medi-Cal.   The provisions of the bill were included in the 2022-23 Budget Act.
    • Accountable Communities for Health – Funding for The enacted 2022-2023 budget includes funding to support and expand Accountable Communities for Health.
  • Emphasize early childhood development as the foundation of lifelong health and well-being.

    • AB 2832 (Rivas) – Establishes the “End Racial and Economic Inequities in Childcare in California Initiative,” which requires the California Department of Social Services and the California Department of Education to develop a “Whole Child Equity Framework” and a “Whole Child Community Equity Screening Tool” to provide the data needed to support the equitable distribution of resources and monitor progress on addressing racial and economic inequities.
    • AB 2806 (Rubio) – Revises provisions related to expulsion and suspension of a child from the state preschool program and broadens the provisions to include general childcare and development programs and family childcare home education network programs.
  • Improve mental health for children and youth through family and community-centered healing that is trauma-informed, culturally-responsive and gender-affirming.

    • AB 1394 (Irwin) – Confronts the rise in suicide rates by implementing suicide screenings in hospitals for children eight and older. 
    • SB 1019 (Gonzalez) – Requires a Medi-Cal managed care plan to conduct annual outreach and education to its enrollees regarding the mental health benefits that are covered by the plan.  
    • AB 2417 (Ting) – Makes the Youth Bill of Rights applicable to youth confined in any juvenile justice facility.
    • Peer-to-Peer mental health supports: Increases in funding to support children’s mental health, including the establishment of a peer-to-peer mental health support program in high schools in the 2022-23 Budget Act (page 55). 


  • Ensure an equitable COVID-19 response.

    • SB 854 (Skinner) – Establishes the Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance and Empowerment (HOPE) Account Program to provide children who are foster youth or who have lost a parent or guardian due to COVID-19 with a trust fund account. SB 854 was held on the Senate Appropriations Suspense File, however, its provisions were included in the 2022-23 Budget Act.
  • Provide direct financial supports for kids and families.

    • AB 2589 (Santiago) Gives a $2,000 tax credit payment per child to families earning under $30,000 per year. AB 2589 did not continue through the policy process, however the provision to provide the CalEITC to those without earned income was included in the 2022-23 Budget Act. 
    • Foster Youth Tax Credit Budget Request Provides a $1,000 refundable tax credit for current and former foster youth between ages 18-25 who were in foster care on or after age 13. The credit would reach approximately 20,000 transition-age youth who file their taxes and meet the eligibility criteria for the California Earned Income Tax Credit. This provision was included in the 2022-23 Budget Act.
  • Eliminate digital inequities that stand in the way of an inclusive online infrastructure for telehealth, learning and workforce development.

    • AB 2273 (Wicks) Establishes the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which requires businesses whose online products would likely be accessed by children to comply with specified standards, including considering the best interests of children. See the WSJ and Politico for examples of how the bill would protect kids online (e.g., by limiting the collection of children’s data, etc.).
  • Strengthen coordination and availability of health, mental health, legal, housing, food and other resources that support of whole-child and whole-family well-being.

    • SB 1083 (Skinner) This bill continues part of the work of SB 65 (Skinner) CA Momnibus Act, by making reforms to the CalWORKs homelessness programs. This bill would help ensure that pregnant people and families who are currently on CalWORKs are able to access and keep their housing by expanding the criteria to determine whether a family is considered homeless to include receiving any notice that could lead to an eviction and requiring a county human services agency to refer a pregnant CalWORKs participant to perinatal home visiting services. 
    • SB 644 (Leyva) – Requires Covered California to request contact information from the Employment Development Department (EDD) for each applicant for unemployment compensation, state disability, paid family leave or any other program administered by EDD so that Covered California can communicate with and inform those individuals of available health care coverage options through Covered California and assist those individuals in obtaining health care coverage.
  • Keep families together. 

    • AB 1686 (Bryan) – Requires a county welfare department, when making a determination about whether to refer a parent for child support enforcement, to presume that the payment of support by the parent is likely to pose a barrier to the proposed reunification if reunification services are offered and not terminated. 
    • AB 2085 (Holden) Redefines “general neglect” for purposes of the Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Act (CANRA) by excluding a person’s economic disadvantage.


  • Bring health care into the community and the community into health care through a community health workforce.

    • AB 2697 (Aguiar-Curry) –  Creates a stakeholder workgroup to advise the Department of Health Care Services on the implementation of the new Community Health Worker preventive services benefit in Medi-Cal as well as incorporate outreach and education for members and providers regarding the new benefit.
    • AB 2680 (Arambula) Requires that the California Department of Health Care Services create the Community Health Navigator Program to direct grants to qualified community-based organizations to conduct targeted outreach, enrollment, retention and access activities for Medi-Cal-eligible individuals and families. Included in 2022-23 Budget Act! 
  • Build strong, well-resourced schools and early learning programs that support the whole child, including mental health supports, cultural identity and leadership development, the arts and dual immersion/bilingual programs.

    • AB 1868 (Rivas) – Provides more support for long-term English learners.
  • Uphold the rights and dignity of immigrant families and advance their meaningful integration and access to health, food, housing, mental health and social supports.

    • AB 1735 (Bryan) – Requires, for foster children and youth, the child’s case plan, transitional independent living plan, and court report be provided to the child in their primary language. This bill also adds the right to have these documents in their primary language to the Foster Youth Bill of Rights and requires the Foster Youth Bill of Rights be provided to the child in their primary language.  
    • Health4All – Provides comprehensive health coverage and preventative care for low-income undocumented immigrants ages 26-49 who do not have access to preventative health care and thus were rendered vulnerable during the pandemic. This builds upon previous wins providing health coverage to undocumented immigrant kids, youth and older adults. The provision of Medi-Cal for low-income undocumented immigrants between the ages of 26 through 49 was adopted as part of the 2022-23 Budget Act. 
    • Food4all – Expands the California Food Assistance Program (CFAP) to Californians regardless of immigration status for people 55 and above. The provision was adopted as part of the 2022-23 Budget Act (page 549).