Rafton’s Round Up: January 2024

Sarah Rafton, MSW

The state legislative session is officially upon us! While it is a supplemental / “short” session, we can make important strides in kids’ behavioral health this year, which has been one of your greatest concerns for nearly a decade. We face a difficult budget reality, while the economic forecast is positive, caseload growth outpaces revenue and the many needs in our state are greater than legislators will be able to fund.  

That said, I am optimistic about some key ways to improve kids’ access to timely behavioral health care this session. Our top priorities include funding pediatric community health workers for behavioral health in primary care and care coordination in primary care – to support children and teens timely connection to behavioral health care, families’ health-related social needs, and improve communication across families, the care team, health system, and schools. In addition, WCAAP is strongly supporting 23-hour crisis behavioral health centers for kids and conditional scholarships to build a behavioral health workforce to serve multiplying needs.  

As we have shared with you many times – your voices are powerful. Your vocation, credibility, and dedication make you trusted messengers and your involvement in WCAAP and presence in the capitol are mighty! Just this week (the first week of session) WCAAP pediatricians (and our parent and community health worker partners) testified 17 times in hearings! 

I urge you to join us this session in whatever way works for you, from one minute to one day. I hope you can catch the fever. Here’s how: 

  • Sign up for and complete WCAAP Action Alerts
    • Takes 1 minute per week; can even be done from the palm of your hand! 
  • Testify for a bill
    • 3 hours to prepare testimony and join a hearing; testify remotely from your own desk! Plus WCAAP will help with your testimony, personally coach you, and sign you up. 
  • Join us for Advocacy Day February 12th in Olympia. 
    • Spend a day speaking up for kids, reconnecting with colleagues, making new friends and feeding your soul. (You’ll also get to see Sandy Chung and Governor Inslee in-real-life!)