Children

Students Experiencing Homelessness Are Supposed to Get Extra Help. Here’s How California Can Do Better

Almost all children who experience housing insecurity also experience trauma because of the stress of their situation. California and the federal government recognize this, and require schools to provide these children with additional support.

But experts believe tens of thousands of California children experiencing homelessness fall through the cracks and receive little to no help from their schools.

Schools must help homeless students. Here’s what you should know

During the 2019-20 school year, close to 1.3 million children in the nation’s public schools were identified as homeless. But that figure may vastly underestimate the actual number. A Center for Public Integrity analysis found evidence that thousands of school districts are undercounting.

Experts who spoke with Public Integrity said that confusion surrounding the McKinney-Vento law and who qualifies as “doubled-up” can leave many students unidentified and not receiving the support they need in school.

California Finally Pays for Summer Programs for Children with Disabilities, But Access Hurdles Remain  

The state cut funding for social and recreational services for children with disabilities 13 years ago, which meant regional centers could no longer pay for summer camps, swimming lessons and other recreational programs for children with disabilities.

Now the centers have to figure out how to reinstate them, which has led to glitches for families trying to access these services.

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.

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.

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.

For Children with Disabilities, Climate Change Brings Multiple Threats

Climate change is a growing threat to people with disabilities. Not only is the weather getting hotter, but Californians are facing more frequent wildfires, poor air quality, evacuations and power outages. These events are particularly difficult to navigate for people with complex medical conditions and those who care for them.

Yet, researchers and policymakers have historically overlooked this vulnerable population when it comes to emergency planning.

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.

2. Parent advocates with the organization Integrated Community Collaborative speak with Latinx families during a 2018 event in Huntington Park about how to access Regional Center Services for their children. Photo courtesy of Integrated Community Collaborative.

For Spanish-Speaking Families, an Uphill Battle for Special Needs Services

A 2020 Public Counsel study of youth ages 3 to 21 living at home found that, for every $1 an English-speaking child received in fiscal year 2018-2019, a Spanish-speaking child received 82 cents — a disparity that grew 46 percent over the previous four years.

The unequal spending on services has persisted despite the state allocating an extra $11 million annually to reduce disparities in the regional center system.

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