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2023 Legislative Session: Advocating for Washington’s Children, Teens, & Families

The 2023 Legislative Session kicked off on Monday, January 9th, and WCAAP’s Legislative Committee is ready to get to work.

Our 2023 Legislative Agenda is ambitious, but we are confident that we will be able to make meaningful steps toward improving health for all kids in Washington. Behavioral health has been at the top of our members’ list of concerns for several years, and we’re building on our achievements from last session by asking for funding to help strengthen behavioral health integration, improve the behavioral health workforce, and reduce boarding in hospitals for behavioral health issues. These proposed solutions were put forth by the legislature’s Children and Youth Behavioral Health Work Group, which WCAAP members and leaders participate on alongside community partners and legislators.

Many WCAAP members are also concerned about families’ struggles to meet basic needs, especially as the cost of living continues to rise. We share that concern, so one of our top priorities this session will be to provide free school meals to all children in our state, supporting a bill proposed by the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction and sponsored by Rep. Marcus Riccelli and Sen. T’wina Nobles.

Finally, we know that our state’s system of juvenile justice is inequitable and is an inappropriate way to handle young children and youth who violate the law. WCAAP will support an effort by the ACLU to raise the minimum age for juvenile court involvement from age 8 to age 13, and to study the best upper age limit for the juvenile justice system. Washington State currently has among the lowest ages in the country for juvenile prosecution (age 8).

You can learn more about our legislative agenda and top priorities on our Active Issues page.

We hope we can count on you to help us speak up on these issues this session! Watch your inbox for weekly Advocacy Updates and occasional Action Alerts, when we’ll ask you to reach out to your legislators. If you are interested in joining our Legislative Committee, contact Jennifer Donahue at jdonahue@wcaap.org, and if you’d like to sign up to testify in bill hearings, you can do so by clicking here.

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