Sarah Rafton, MSW
This month I am reflecting on the strength of our community — the work we can accomplish together and the fulfillment and connection our community provides. In October, many of you plus pediatricians from across the country gathered in Washington DC for the AAP’s National Conference and Exhibition (NCE). I am grateful I was able to attend the meeting to learn more about how youth and family voice can lead advocacy, fentanyl prevention and treatment, and adolescents and social media.
The NCE sessions I attended in “the other Washington” also validated that Washington State is the place to be — our policies and investments in family well-being, early childhood, and gun safety are exemplary.
It is your work together as a community that has helped Washington State lead the way for our country, including:
- paid Family and Medical Leave,
- 12-months post-partum Medicaid coverage,
- continuous Medicaid coverage for 0-6 year-olds,
- the ground-breaking work we are doing on relational health and pediatric Community Health Workers,
- pediatric primary care Medicaid-Medicare parity,
- ensuring youth access to gender-affirming and reproductive healthcare, and
- gun safety laws including required training to own a gun, extended waiting periods, and a prohibition on the purchase of assault weapons.
Your voices in concert with our partner organizations and state agencies have made these laws and investments happen.
The meeting was also an opportunity to connect many WCAAP members and pediatric partners from other states. I had the privilege of sitting with long time WCAAP member and former WCAAP president, Dr. Jon Almquist, on the plane home from DC and he wisely shared with me, “This is how the work gets done for kids. Relationships and through our community.” Jon and I reflected on how time together in fellowship is what makes our pediatric community so special and so effective.
Last weekend I was able to share in further community as the King County Medical Society honored WCAAP members doctors Fred Rivara and Michelle Terry – Fred for his lifetime of service and accomplishments for kids and injury prevention, and Michelle for her contributions to health equity.
Once again, I felt connected to a community of leaders who are making lasting and meaningful change for children, including WCAAP members Bruder Stapleton, Cora Breuner, Sahar Rooholamini, Sheryl Morelli, Tumaini Coker, and Yolanda Evans. The collective impact of these members on the pediatric workforce, child health, adolescent health, and primary care is monumental. We were energized and uplifted to be together.
In this spirit and for these reasons, I invite you to attend our WCAAP Advocacy Day on February 12, 2024 in the Capitol and join us to be effective changemakers for kids and families and to be buoyed by our kinship and connection.