Public policy affects all of our daily lives, but vulnerable populations feel the consequences of policy most acutely. In this issue of the California Health Report, focused on children’s health, we take a look at how policy is affecting the most vulnerable people in our community—children who live with economic disadvantages and special educational or medical needs and children without parents who live in the foster care system.
Federal law requires that mental health be covered no differently than treatment for physical ailments. But fulfilling that requirement is being left to the states, and California has taken a contradictory position on what constitutes equal care for some children. The state mandates that private insurance companies provide an intensive and expensive therapy, called applied behavior analysis, which can dramatically improve the functioning of some children with autism. But the state also exempted itself from the requirement to pay for the expensive treatment for children on Medi-Cal. We examine the painful consequences of that decision for low income-children with autism who depend on the state for medical coverage.
Also in this issue, Robin Urevich looks at how children with special needs are accommodated at public schools. She investigates an incident at a Los Angeles County school, where accommodations for an autistic boy fueled a controversy among parents, who saw him as a danger to their children. And Hannah Hough examines how the increasing diversity among Latinos will impact public health in California, where half of the child population is Latino. Is the state ready for the next generation of Latino children – a growing number of whom are indigenous and don’t speak English or Spanish?
Jennifer Rodriguez, an advocate for foster children, is this issue’s community healer. Rodriguez, who grew up in the foster care system, became a lawyer in order to help children who have to grow up with the state as a parent. She’s advancing her cause and changing lives as the executive director of the Youth Law Center, an organization that advocates for young people in the foster care and juvenile justice systems. The state can build better facilities for youth, Rodriguez says, but cannot provide the one thing children need the most–love.
You’ll also find stories about young people and the Affordable Care Act, a women’s clinic and health-care reform, dangerous housing conditions for farmworkers and more.Subscribe to the magazine and never miss another great story connecting the community, the Capitol and the places in between.