Now that the election is over, many of us are trying to figure out how to position ourselves to address the pressing needs of vulnerable children and families not only in California, but throughout the country. Unfortunately, it would seem that all the post election posturing indicates a continuation and, perhaps, a worsening of gridlock in both Sacramento and Washington, DC. This is exactly what we don’t need; this kind of inaction and failure of leadership jeopardizes the children and families we serve.
There are no easy solutions–quite the opposite! In the midst of all political bravado, children and families are suffering, services have been limited, if not all together eliminated, entitlements have been suspended, and our focus has moved from the plight of our neighbors to ideological debates.
In Sacramento–The disastrous actions by Governor Schwarzenegger to eliminate child care subsidies and support for working families, together with the elimination of funding for the education of special needs students, must be addressed immediately as Governor-elect Brown assumes the position and the legislature reconvenes. Although temporary measures have been put in place, the long term uncertainty of funding continues to jeopardize services to these vulnerable populations.
In Washington, DC–Just as medical entitlements for children and youth have been established in recent healthcare legislation, repeal and revisions are being suggested, making uncertain a pathway to enable states to access funding to assure compliance with these new measures. The Fostering Connections Act, landmark legislation passed three years ago to advance services to children and youth, continues to have funding jeopardized by a shifting sense of priorities in Washington. Years after supporting a gathering to address the issues of vulnerable children and families and establish some clear priorities as well as a plan of action, the call for a White House Conference goes unheeded.
Some would say these are unprecedented times and, as a result, we can no longer accept “business as usual.” From what I can see, not much has changed on the political front; and the sense of urgency is driven by political grandstanding rather than the desperation that many feel in a time of economic constraint.
We hope the stalemate in government will ease and, in spite of temptation to join the fray, we need to encourage our civic leaders to not lose sight of the pressing needs our children and families face each day.
So in an effort to get beyond the impasse, let me suggest:
1. Check the ideology at the door
2. Focus on tangible, immediate needs of the most vulnerable
3. Set and maintain priorities for the utilization of limited funds
4. Don’t be short sighted
5. Insist on proven and efficient methods of delivering services
We live in hope!