Active Issues

We are currently developing our priorities for the 2023 legislative session, but you can read about our top priorities in the past session (2022) below or download this overview.

Support Strong Starts & Behavioral Health for All Families

View our Community Health Workers for behavioral health issue brief here

View our behavioral health integration issue brief here

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 — 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 – like 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.

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

View our vaping issue brief here

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.
    • Prevent law enforcement from detaining or fining youth (under 18) if suspected of purchasing, using, or possessing commercial tobacco or vapor products.

Support Priorities

WCAAP also supported the following bills and budget investments in the 2022 Legislative Session:

Behavioral health 
HB 1890Strategic Plan for Children’s Mental Health
Budget itemExpanding Infant MH Consultation
Budget itemGrants to put more behavioral health clinicians in schools to meet urgent needs of students
Budget item7% Rate Increase for Behavioral Health Centers
Budget itemFunding to explore implementation of Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHC)
HB 1664   SB 5595Prototypical school formulas for physical, social, and emotional support in schools
SB 5736Partial hospitalization/Intensive outpatient care
Access to care 
Budget itemIncrease pediatric Medicaid dental reimbursement rates, in order to increase access to care for kids covered by Apple Health
Budget itemAdjust periodicity of well-child visits for children on Apple Health to match Bright Futures standards
Budget itemContinuous 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 1854Coverage for hearing instruments
SB 5589Concerning statewide spending on primary care
Social determinants/family well-being
Budget itemExpanding perinatal support line
SB 5649Improvements to Paid Family & Medical Leave
SB 5702Equitable 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 5838Diaper Subsidy
HB 1601Expanding the students experiencing homelessness & foster youth pilot program
Community health & safety
HB 1413Juvenile Points Bill
HB 1344Emerging Adults Bill
HB 5122Raise the Age Bill
HB 1630Restricting weapons in certain areas
HB 1705Ghost Guns
HB 1770Energy Codes
HB 1774Reducing greenhouse gas emissions in buildings.
HB 1766Clean Heat Act
HB 1767Targeted Electrification
HB 1099Growth Management Act Update
HB 1663Reducing methane emissions from landfills.
SB 5587/HB 1684Drinking water fluoridation