CLC Testimony and Comments
While at Children's Law Center we normally focus our testimony on the past performance of an Agency during Oversight, today Sharra Greer, CLC policy director, focuses on a proposed new role for the Deputy Mayor.
Many of the youth that we work with at Children's Law Center–students with disabilities, youth in foster care, missing youth, and commercially and sexually exploited youth–are very vulnerable and need MPD members to provide a sense of safety, fairness, and security when interacting with them. Children's Law Center policy attorney Aubrey Edwards-Luce's testimony reviews MPD’s efforts to address youth issues in their homes, communities, and schools.
Children's Law Center attorney Renee Murphy focuses on the work to be done to improve education quality and equity, one of OSSE’s overarching strategic goals. It is not equitable that children with disabilities continue to suffer dismal achievement and life outcomes. It is not equitable nor high-quality that too many parents still have difficulty getting schools to evaluate their children, or that youth with severe mental health concerns or learning problems go without identification of their disabilities.
Nearly 20,000 of the children on Medicaid in DC likely have a mental health disorder that can be identified and requires treatment, but in FY 2017, only about 12,000, or about 12%, of publicly insured children received mental health services. In general, despite some progress over the past several years, gaps in the system of care still leave families, teachers, social workers, probation officers, lawyers and judges scrambling to meet the mental health needs of at-risk children in the District.
One of the best ways to improve access to mental health care is to provide services where children are. Counseling services in school or at the school building can make a huge difference for the children who need them. In addition, prevention services and lower level services provided in the school can help children from escalating and needing high level and acute services. Children's Law Center Policy Director Sharra Greer testifies about school based mental health during the DBH oversight hearing today.
Approximately 99,000 children and youth under 21 years of age are enrolled in the District’s Medicaid program.2 A properly functioning Medicaid system is not only vital for ensuring the physical and mental health of DC’s children, but it is also the backbone of our early intervention and child welfare systems -- providing the services that ensure children reach developmental milestones, aid their academic achievement and reduce their stay in foster care. DHCF has consistently been a well performing agency. This year continues that trend, although there have been a few challenges.
Children's Law Center Policy Analyst Michael Villafranca focuses his testimony on the Safe Schools Certification Program and challenges under the Language Access Act. He shares that despite the efforts of OHR to train and oversee compliance with the Language Access Act of 2004, many CLC client families who are limited English proficient or non-English proficient continue to have difficulty accessing services at multiple government agencies.
CLC Policy Director Sharra Greer testifies about DC Public Schools, saying the focus has moved away from students and schools. She asks the Council, the Mayor and her team, and the city to regain focus.
The District’s Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is responsible for the welfare of children who often have complex trauma histories and have been failed by many other systems. Children's Law Center Executive Director Judith Sandalow testifies about CFSA's achievements and how the agency can continue improving.
The challenge of addressing bullying is more complicated than just having policies that are compliant with the law. At Children's Law Center, we know from research that one of the best ways to prevent bullying is to address school climate issues, which is why we continue to be engaged with the program’s school climate improvement work. Michael Villafranca testifies.