Advocacy for Children

We are advocates for ALL of Washington’s children and champion policies that advance equity and improve child health and well-being. There are many ways to be an advocate:

  1. Respond to action alerts that we send out during the legislative session.
  2. Join our legislative committee. We meet via Zoom – weekly during the legislative session and monthly outside of session. To learn more, contact Sarah Nau.
  3. Participate in our annual Advocacy Day. scheduled for Monday, January 27, 2025. We are planning a full day of education and action in Olympia!

Advocate With Us

Thank you to Molina Healthcare of Washington for their generous support of WCAAP’s 2024 Advocacy Day!

2024 Accomplishments

Read through our accomplishments below, or click here to view our 2024 Advocacy Report.

Top Priorities

Funding Community Health Workers (CHW) and, more broadly, funding care coordination for kids’ mental health and families’ health-related social needs, was included in the state’s supplemental budget. In short, this funding means:

  • Funds will pay for the existing pediatric CHW workforce through June 2025;
  • The Health Care Authority (HCA) must establish a CHW benefit under the medical assistance program using any federal funds available;
  • Increased rates for postnatal, child, and adolescent mental health screenings, beginning Jan. 1, 2025, sufficient to provide follow-up and care coordination;
  • Implementation of a funding mechanism using G0136 for social determinants of health risk assessment benefit for children and their families.

The budget also allocated $45M in new funding for school meals, which will allow the free school meals program to continue as currently defined (free meals for all kids in all K-5 and K-8 buildings with at least 30% of students on free and reduced lunch).

Our state’s statue governing WA Universal Purchase for Immunizations has been updated, which will ensure access to lifesaving immunizations, including Nirsevimab for protection against RSV, for all children in Washington.

While our full permit to purchase priority did not advance, HB 2118 (additional requirements for licensed firearm dealers) and SB 5444 (restricting firearms in sensitive places), both passed.

Support Items

Behavioral Health-Related Bills

  • Establishment of the WA State Health Corps behavioral health scholarship program
  • Support for young adults following inpatient behavioral health treatment
  • Updates to licensing requirements, reimbursement, and practice settings to address the behavioral health provider shortages
  • Extension of the children and youth behavioral health work group
  • Extending the crisis relief center model to provide behavioral health crisis services for minors

School-Related Health Bills

  • Expanding access to anaphylaxis medications in schools
  • Providing fentanyl and other substance use prevention education
  • Making available opioid overdose reversal medication in high schools
  • Requiring and funding the purchase of zero emission school buses

Additional Key Support Bills

  • Providing for health home services for medicaid-eligible children with medically complex conditions
  • Funding for the early support for infants and toddlers (ESIT) program
  • Elimination of child marriage
  • Public education concerning high THC cannabis products
  • Providing extended foster care services to youth ages 18 to 21

Economic Security-Related Bills

  • 100% child support pass through for families receiving TANF
  • Expanding time limit exemptions applicable for cash assistance programs

Additional budget wins for support items include:

  • Funding that directs the HCA to implement the ACE for Kids Act, which will allow monies for care coordination that is tailored to the unique needs of kids with special health care needs/medically complex needs. 
  • Funding for naloxone and fentanyl test strips to be available for distribution to high school and public college students at no cost, the first program of its kind in the US.

Earlier Accomplishments

  • Increased funding for Washington’s Mental Health Referral Service for Children & Teens and the First Approach Skills Training (FAST) program.
  • 15% increase in Medicaid reimbursement for behavioral health counseling.
  • $10m in loan repayment funds for the Washington Health Corps and $10m in loan repayment funding dedicated to behavioral health professionals.
  • Multisystem crisis response teams to meet the needs of youth who are stuck in hospitals for behavioral needs.
  • Free school meals for all kids in all K-5 and K-8 buildings with at least 30% of students on free and reduced lunch.
  • Assault weapons ban, plus a 10-day waiting period and mandated safety training for all firearm purchases.
  • Improved access to care by increasing Medicaid rates to parity with Medicare for pediatric care.

The WCAAP employs a lobbyist in Olympia to advocate for an equity-focused, child-friendly legislative agenda in our state, and Chapter members frequently testify in Olympia and meet with legislators.