Pregnant Behind Bars, Part Five: Looking To The Future

The final installment of this five-part series about Los Angeles County’s unique Maternal Health Diversion Program explores the pressing need for LA’s Office of Diversion and Reentry to scale up its diversion capacity. Thus far, the money to do so hasn’t been there.

The Maternal Health Diversion program pulls pregnant people from the county’s women’s jail and places them in interim group housing until they’re ready to move into their own permanent housing with their children. All the while, participants receive a broad array of services.

Opinion: California Must Step Up to Address Racism as a Public Health Crisis

In California, 34 jurisdictions have declared racism a public health crisis. Governor Newsom, unfortunately, has failed to do so at the state level, just as he failed to support broader investments supported by the legislature to advance health equity last year.

His inaction seems to be rooted in two issues: failure to prioritize racial equity and conflating investments in health care with investments in prevention and public health.

How Midwives and Doulas Are Working to End Birth Disparities

Across California, midwives and doulas are working to increase access to their services to more Black and brown women. Organizations are also raising awareness about the options people have to welcome a child into the world.

Some “women of color are unaware that there’s another way to be in your pregnancy, labor and birth, and postpartum than what’s generally done and prescribed,” said Laura Perez, who works in San Francisco. “You can’t have access to something if you don’t know it exists.”

Domestic Violence Survivors Often Don’t Want to Call the Police. California Tries A New Approach

In October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed a bill that will fund pilot projects that provide alternative responses to domestic violence. While cities and jurisdictions have launched similar efforts, California is the first state to support such experiments at scale.

“It’s the biggest investment in alternative responses that the state has ever seen,” said Cat Brooks, of Justice Teams Network.

Analysis: It’s Time for Housing Justice for Our Black Communities

My family’s history is deeply shaped by our nation’s history of discriminatory housing policies.

I’ve written about my grandfather’s story and about how redlining affected my family. But I never fully explored how this legacy continues to impact the housing situation of my family and many others. The legacy of redlining and housing discrimination has exacerbated California’s already devastating housing crisis for the Black community.

This Central Valley Town Has a Carcinogen in its Water. Why Are Solutions So Slow?

Although California has set high standards for controlling some chemicals in water, actual enforcement and removal of contaminants is generally slow, and frequently stymied by high treatment costs and antiquated water infrastructure.

Meanwhile, polluters rarely have to answer for the health impacts their actions may have caused. Low-income communities of color are particularly hard hit, due to decades of environmental racism.

Analysis: The Vaccine Is a Health Equity Issue for Kids Like My Son

The COVID vaccine for children is safe and effective, and it’s the best way to protect not only children but also the larger community.

Was I concerned about the risks of the vaccine? No. COVID is a far greater threat to my son, who has to go to the ICU when exposed to the kind of germs that give healthy kids the sniffles. The vaccination also benefits my healthy daughter, who won’t have her schooling interrupted by quarantines.

Opinion: LGBTQ Youth Are Facing a Mental Health Crisis Too

Approximately 9.5 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 living in the U.S. identify as LGBTQ. Even before the pandemic, these kids were 4 times more likely than heterosexual youth to attempt suicide.

Those numbers have risen; LGBTQ youth are now 5 times more likely to attempt self-harm. As a psychiatrist who works extensively with LGBTQ youth, and as someone who identifies as a gay man, I am advocating for this particular group, as I have witnessed their struggles.

Opinion: Governor’s Veto Widens Health Disparities

Even as Governor Newsom’s administration is working to help Californians access care more easily through technology, it is preventing providers from connecting virtually to better meet the needs of Medi-Cal patients.

Gavin Newsom’s veto of SB 365 means doctors serving people insured under Medi-Cal won’t be reimbursed if they consult with a specialist online or over the phone to provide their patients better care.

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