Children, adolescents, and families throughout Washington state have struggled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They are facing economic difficulties, family stressors, falling behind in school, missing out on important health and developmental opportunities, and experiencing worsening behavioral health. We must prioritize children in the 2022 legislative session. Read about our top priorities below, or download this overview.
Support Strong Starts & Behavioral Health for All Families
The first months and years of a child’s life set a pathway for their health and well-being later in life, during adolescence and into adulthood. Strong families – economically and emotionally – are the foundation babies, toddlers, and preschoolers need for a future lifetime of health. Strong families help children be kindergarten-ready and can even prevent deep academic inequities that plague students today. The pediatric medical home serves nearly every child under age 5 but is not yet built to identify and support families’ Social Determinants of Health.
We can advance child health equity by including non-licensed team members — like community health workers, navigators, and care coordinators — as a sustainable and funded part of health care for children on Apple Health. In addition to supporting families of the youngest children, non-licensed clinic team members can also play a critical role in helping families navigate our complex behavioral health system to ensure kids of all ages don’t fall through the gaps.
- Fund non-licensed team members – health navigators or community health workers – to help families and providers address social determinants of health and ensure children and youth receive the most timely and appropriate care.
- Ensure HCA submits state plan amendment to CMS to draw down federal matching funds for these services.
Support Behavioral Health Integration in Primary Care
Washington state is in the midst of a severe crisis in kids’ behavioral health. Our state was ranked 43rd in the nation in 2020 for kids’ access to behavioral health care and COVID-19 continues to exacerbate this crisis. A March 2021 survey of Washington State students found about 45% of middle schoolers and nearly 60% of high schoolers felt depressed or sad most days in the past year. A 2019 state-level study found that nearly half of children with a treatable mental health condition did not receive the care they needed. BIPOC children and youth have even greater untreated mental health needs.
Integrated behavioral health – when primary care providers and licensed behavioral health counselors share care — is an effective and efficient way to ensure kids in need get timely help before symptoms worsen and to combat health inequities.
- Provide startup funds for primary care clinics to implement the collaborative care model to address kids’ behavioral health needs.
End the Youth Vaping Epidemic
21.2% of high school students in Washington state use e-cigarettes (vape), an epidemic that is setting them up for future smoking-related health problems. Young people who use e-cigarettes are more likely to become cigarette smokers, and many are low-risk youth who would not otherwise smoke cigarettes. Kids aren’t just experimenting with e-cigarettes. Many are using these products most days or every day, which suggests addiction. Flavored products are driving this epidemic: 82.9% of youth e-cigarette users use flavored products like mint, gummy bear and cotton candy. Use of nicotine in any form is unsafe – especially for kids, because it is highly addictive and can harm adolescent brain development. Using nicotine during the teen years can also increase risk of future addiction to other drugs. At the same time, existing laws to enforce age restrictions are inequitable. Youth of color, LGBTQ youth, and youth from low socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to have unfair or negative contacts with law enforcement over possession or attempts to purchase nicotine products.
- Policy improvements to curb the youth vaping epidemic and equitably enforce existing age restrictions include:
- Increasing the pennies on the dollar tax on vape products to be commensurate to cigarette tax. HB 1676 (Harris)
WCAAP Support Priorities – 2022 Legislative Session
|HB 1890||Strategic Plan for Children’s Mental Health|
|Budget item||Expanding Infant MH Consultation|
|Budget item||Grants to put more behavioral health clinicians in schools to meet urgent needs of students|
|Budget item||7% Rate Increase for Behavioral Health Centers|
|Budget item||Funding to explore implementation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC)|
|HB 1664 SB 5595||Prototypical school formulas for physical, social, and emotional support in schools|
|SB 5736||Partial hospitalization/Intensive outpatient care|
|Access to care|
|Budget item||Increase pediatric Medicaid dental reimbursement rates, in order to increase access to care for kids covered by Apple Health|
|Budget item||Adjust periodicity of well-child visits for children on Apple Health to match Bright Futures standards|
|Budget item||Continuous eligibility for young kids on Apple Health|
|Ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth under 18 can consent to their own health care|
|Health Equity for Immigrants Campaign|
|HB 1854||Coverage for hearing instruments|
|SB 5589||Concerning statewide spending on primary care|
|Social determinants/family well-being|
|Budget item||Expanding perinatal support line|
|SB 5649||Improvements to Paid Family & Medical Leave|
|SB 5702||Equitable Access to Human Milk, specifically donor human milk, to improve overall public health with evidence-based improvements to maternal and child health outcomes|
|Free lunches in schools – continuation|
|HB 1947/SB 5838||Diaper Subsidy|
|HB 1601||Expanding the students experiencing homelessness & foster youth pilot program|
|Community health & safety|
|HB 1413||Juvenile Points Bill|
|HB 1344||Emerging Adults Bill|
|HB 5122||Raise the Age Bill|
|HB 1630||Restricting weapons in certain areas|
|HB 1705||Ghost Guns|
|HB 1770||Energy Codes|
|HB 1774||Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.|
|HB 1766||Clean Heat Act|
|HB 1767||Targeted Electrification|
|HB 1099||Growth Management Act Update|
|HB 1663||Reducing methane emissions from landfills.|
|SB 5587/HB 1684||Drinking water fluoridation|