Advocacy Update: Advancing Child Health in the Interim

Jennifer Donahue
Communications Manager, WCAAP

What have we done well? What can we do better? Are we being strategic? Which issues should we lead on and where can we play a supporting role? What is most important to WCAAP members?  Members of the WCAAP legislative committee met in Federal Way last week to wrestle with these questions and work on developing a 2020 legislative agenda that reflects our priorities as a Chapter.

The committee reflected on the progress we’ve made in recent years, thanks to the increased engagement of members. In 2019 alone we helped pass:

  • Tobacco/Nicotine 21 law
  • the bill to eliminate personal/philosophic exemptions to MMR vaccine
  • an updated child passenger safety law
  • a pilot to expand the Partnership Access Line (PAL) to serve schools.

WCAAP members contacted legislators in 40 of our state’s 49 legislative districts via action alerts, with a total of 1268 messages seeking support for child health and safety. WCAAP members testified at 19 hearings, and a record 99 providers braved the snow to attend WCAAP’s Advocacy Day in February!

We step into the interim with important work to accomplish before the 2020 session begins January 13th. We need engagement from Chapter members throughout the state. It is crucial to forge or strengthen relationships with legislators during the interim, while they are in their home districts and meetings outside of the legislative session can be more meaningful and satisfying to legislators and constituents alike. We encourage all WCAAP members to meet with their own legislators – it can be as casual as getting together for a cup of coffee, and we can help prepare you!

Our 2020 agenda will continue to take shape over the coming months. From our member voices and documented child health gaps, we know we will focus on Medicaid access, behavioral health access, and impacting social determinants of health in children’s earliest years. In the coming months we will work with the legislative committee and our community partners to hone our agenda and determine where and how we can best lead and where our voices are critical to support coalitions to advance child health. There are many other issues that will emerge during the session where we will ensure a pediatric health voice is part of conversations happening in Olympia.

As always, we are committed to being a powerful advocate for Washington’s children and families while supporting pediatric health care providers.  You can help:

  1. Join the Legislative Committee – we meet monthly during the interim and weekly during session. Contact Lelach Rave or Beth Ebel to learn more about the committee.
  2. Schedule a meeting with your legislators – no special knowledge required! You can visit their office, meet for coffee, or invite them to your clinic. Contact Jennifer Donahue to learn more!
  3. Register for Advocacy Day – January 14, 2020!