Author: Claudia Boyd-Barrett

Some Kids in Long-Term Care Facilities Didn’t See Parents for More Than a Year

Throughout the pandemic, medically fragile children in California’s pediatric long-term care facilities and their parents have endured drastic limits on their ability to see and interact with each other. Some locations barred parents and other caregivers from visiting their children in person for over a year, citing virus safety precautions.

Advocates and parents said they’re concerned that visitation policies at pediatric subacute units during the pandemic may have caused long-term harm to kids.

Taking a Stand: How Teens Are Working to End Relationship Violence

Hundreds of young people across California are sparking conversations in their schools and communities about what healthy relationships should look like and how to recognize abusive behaviors. The California Health Report spoke with six of these youths about their activism and the experiences that motivate them.

All the youths we interviewed saw an urgent need to help more young people recognize abusive behaviors in themselves and others.

A street in the Kern County community of El Adobe, California.

‘I’m Scared of Getting Sick From the Water’

Like more than 300 communities across California, the tiny town of El Adobe in Kern County lacks safe drinking water. Since 2008, the arsenic levels in one of its two wells have regularly exceeded the safety standards set by federal and state authorities, often by more than double.

A 2013 report recommended the community consolidate with the larger water system in nearby Lamont. Residents are still waiting for that to happen. Some are losing hope.

Mike Duncan, the founder of Native Dads Network, sits on a bench.

To Counter Domestic Violence, Some Native Americans Embrace Tradition

Mike Duncan is founder of Native Dads Network, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that runs workshops on healthy parenting and relationships. The workshops draw on traditional Indigenous teachings about the value of life, the role of parents and the sacredness of women.

The network is one of a growing number of programs across the state that seek to address high rates of domestic violence in many Tribal communities by using Native American people’s own traditions and history as a guide.

As Need for Mental Health Care Surges, A Funding Program Remains Underused

The need for mental health services has surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing pressure on California’s already beset mental health care system.

Yet one source of funding that could potentially help counties meet the demand for mental health care remains underused more than a year after the California Health Report first drew attention to the issue. The funding benefits the mental health care program that serves a third of Californians.

Closeup of a young man holding the hand of an old woman with affection.

How California Can Fix Its Hospice System and Reduce Care Inequities

When done right, hospice care can provide immense comfort to terminally ill patients and their families. But fraud, malpractice, unchecked growth, and lack of effective oversight from the state and federal authorities threaten the wellbeing of California’s hospice patients.

Seniors from all walks of life fall victim to these fraudulent practices, but those with limited English proficiency are especially vulnerable.

Here are a few solutions.

As California Stays Home Again, Volunteers Reach Out to Isolated Seniors

The holiday season is further adding to social isolation and feelings of loneliness many seniors have experienced during COVID-19. Many won’t be able to celebrate the holidays with loved ones and some have lost spouses or other family members to the virus.

The Social Bridging Project and other organizations that serve the elderly are ramping up efforts to reach vulnerable seniors living alone. Solutions include meal deliveries, phone check-ins and crisis hotlines.

Cat Brooks, executive director of Justice Teams Network, a coalition of organizations dedicated to eradicating state violence, sits outside her home in Oakland, Calif. At 19, Brooks was severely beaten by her husband but when the police intervened, Brooks was taken to jail rather than her husband. Martin do Nascimento / Resolve Magazine

Alternatives to Calling the Police for Domestic Violence Survivors

If involving the police and criminal justice system isn’t a safe, reliable option for most survivors, why is it offered as the main pathway for seeking help? A majority of survivors who called the police on their abusers later concluded that police involvement was unhelpful at best, and at worst made them feel less safe.

The conversation has gained new urgency amidst the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to reevaluate the scope of police funding and responsibilities.

Parents Caring for Children with Disabilities Have Some Advice

After almost 10 months of staying home, some of these families have settled into the new reality and are receiving better support. Some have found creative ways to adapt. But others are still struggling to get their children the help they need.

How well families are doing depends a lot on their resources, both relational and financial. To help families that are struggling, lawmakers need to provide greater financial support such as stimulus payments, food subsidies and rental relief, advocates said.

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