Author: Claudia Boyd-Barrett

As Wildfires Grow, So Does California’s Housing and Homelessness Crisis. Here Are Some Solutions

As climate change increases the intensity of wildfires in California, more people are losing their homes and facing long-term displacement and instability.

Researchers and those who work with disaster victims said there is insufficient government assistance to help the most vulnerable wildfire survivors find housing. There also isn’t enough housing to accommodate California’s swelling population of wildfire refugees.

Trying to Help Survivors, a Domestic Violence Agency Turns the Focus

A program run by Monarch Services, a domestic violence intervention and prevention agency in Santa Cruz County, aims to help people responsible for domestic violence change their behavior patterns.

Called Positive Solutions, it encourages participants to tune into their emotions, practice nonviolent communication skills and identify negative childhood experiences that may have led them to express emotions in a violent way.

How Families Are Advocating for Children with Disabilities in Foster Care

Many families that foster and ultimately adopt children with disabilities encounter challenges such as receiving insufficient medical supplies to care for the children and incomplete information from child welfare agencies about the children’s health histories.

Foster families and their advocates are working to mend the gaps in the system that can cause undue stress on these children who, in most cases, have already been through trying times before coming into foster care.

Solutions For the Most Dangerous Part of Pregnancy: Violence in the Home

Across California, organizations are working on anti-violence solutions to improve outcomes for parents and their babies. Efforts include working with physicians to better detect and help pregnant people who are experiencing abuse.

Women are more than twice as likely to die from homicide during pregnancy and the year following childbirth than from hypertensive disorders, hemorrhage and infection.

Latinx Families Ask For Equal Services for Their Children With Disabilities

A coalition of Latinx parents is suing Harbor Regional Center, alleging discrimination against Latinx children and adults with disabilities and demanding more services.

The lawsuit accuses the center of routinely dismissing Latinx families’ requests for help, of providing less comprehensive services than needed, and of burdening families with unnecessary requirements as well as failing to adequately inform them when services are canceled or changed.

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.

Striving to Meet the Mental Health Needs of Children with Physical Health Conditions

Research shows children with chronic illnesses are at least twice as likely as healthy children to develop a mental health disorder. They’re at higher risk for neglect and abuse. Their caregivers and siblings are also at increased risk for mental distress.

Yet there are few mental health treatment programs that cater to the needs of these children and their families. The MEND program at Loma Linda University is an exception.

California Laws Don’t Prevent Minors from Marrying Adults

In California, a person under 18 can marry with the consent of one parent and a judge. The state is one of only nine in the nation that do not set a minimum age for marriage.

People married as children or teens are more likely to experience domestic violence, contract sexually transmitted infections, have early pregnancies, and end up divorced, research shows. Marriage under 18 also contradicts age of consent laws in many states.

The Pandemic Spurred a Domestic Violence Epidemic. It’s Not Over Yet.

Since the pandemic began, California organizations that serve domestic violence survivors report getting more requests for help than ever before and hearing more stories of extreme abuse.

Rather than diminish, this trend has persisted as society reopens and survivors feel better able to seek help because they’re no longer trapped at home or worried about getting the virus, advocates said.

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.

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