Don't Sell Children Short
The Children’s Movement of California’s efforts helped protect smart investments in children during the recent state budget negotiations and made a difference for thousands of kids. Here’s what happened and what’s next:
Proposed Early Learning Funding Cuts Minimized & Restructuring Averted
While the final 2012-13 California state budget includes $130 million in cuts that negatively impact children’s early learning opportunities and takes $80 million out of First 5 California, it could have been much worse. Initially, early learning programs were slated to be cut by $450 million, which would have denied access to 80,000 children, including infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
Furthermore, the final budget did not end up shifting responsibility for early learning programs from the Department of Education to the Department of Social Services. This original proposal would have seriously jeopardized program quality, which we have fought hard to ensure in recent years. Nor did the final budget include the original proposal to eliminate Transitional Kindergarten for 40,000 young children who will now benefit from an educational boost prior to entering Kindergarten.
The Children’s Movement helped to minimize the budget cuts to early learning and to block the misguided proposals to restructure the system and to eliminate Transitional Kindergarten.
Going forward, we will work to restore funding for the cuts made and continue our overall effort to have policymaking better reflect the established returns on investments in early learning.
Children’s Access to Health Care Diminished
Unfortunately, the final budget did include the Administration's proposal to eliminate the Healthy Families Program and move the nearly 900,000 children in that program into Medi-Cal. While this move is estimated to save the state $13 million this year, it also jeopardizes almost $200 million in revenue from an industry-supported assessment on managed care health plans. So it is likely to result in a net cost to the state.
Children covered by Healthy Families will continue to have health coverage, but they will eventually be transitioned into Medi-Cal. At our urging, kids will be allowed to stay with their current doctor even if that doctor is not a Medi-Cal provider, and the Department of Health Care Services must provide ongoing reports to the Legislature regarding provider network readiness and adequacy standards before any child changes programs.
The details of the transition plan are critical and will be presented to the Legislature in October 2012, and we will scrutinize the plan closely to ensure that children transitioning into Medi-Cal from Healthy Families and children already in Medi-Cal have sufficient access to health care.
Clearly, we still have work to do to make children’s well-being a bigger priority for California’s policymakers. But, with your and others participation in The Children’s Movement of California, we’re getting there.