A new world order was established on January 20, 2017. Promises made during a contentious election are now in the process of being fulfilled. High on the list of promises is the repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This, among many other controversial measures, has garnered much attention. Over the last month and a half, many have asked me what impact, if any, the repeal and replacement of the ACA would have on those served by Hillsides. We are now starting to get an inkling of what the future holds as this week, House Republicans released a bill to replace the ACA called the American Health Care Act. This proposed legislation is facing opposition from both Republicans and Democrats and it is hard to predict what form the bill will ultimately take. However, for an agency like Hillsides that is dependent on public funding to provide much-needed services it is clear there will be a definite impact.
The ACA provides an opportunity for states to expand their Medicaid coverage through financial incentives offered by the Federal Government. Known as Medi-Cal in California, this expansion has ensured that youth in foster care have access to medical insurance coverage until age 26. However, in the newly proposed bill, the Medicaid expansion will be curtailed starting in 2020 presumably capping the government’s Medicaid payments.
Children and youth served by foster care due to family traumas are the responsibility of the state. Because the state is the legal parent of these youth, they do not have the same opportunity as other young adults to stay on a parent’s private insurance plan until the age of 26. Although the proposed legislation maintains the provision of coverage of youth until 26, it is not clear if Medicaid is “capped” that former foster youth would also have the same coverage, since Medicaid is the funding source for this particular benefit. Providing youth formerly in foster care with Medicaid coverage until age 26 ensures parity between them and their peers, giving them one of the essential securities needed to gain independence.
Each year in California, up to 5,500 youth age out of foster care. These vulnerable youth to often lack adequate support to navigate the transition to adulthood successfully. Unlike their peers, many youth formerly in foster care do not have the emotional support of a caring adult or financial support of a family member. Ensuring continued health coverage allows these youth to access regular and preventative care and helps them to achieve self-sufficiency. Consistent access to health care is particularly important because youth in foster care have high rates of acute and chronic medical, mental health and developmental issues as a consequence of the traumas they experienced during childhood. More than 18,000 youth formerly in foster care in California currently benefit from Medi-Cal coverage until age 26. Without this coverage, many of these youth would be uninsured, resulting in an increase in emergency room visits and higher costs to youth and their communities.
Early analysis shows that expansion of defense and infrastructure spending is possible only at the sacrifice of much-needed social service funding such as Medicaid. Certainly these are complex issues that defy simple political initiatives. They are also moral issues that impact the safety and well-being of many we serve. For the nearly 600 youth we serve annually through our Youth Moving On program, an improved transportation system will be of little consequence if they lack access to desperately needed mental health services or medical care. In the great America we envision, surely one crucial service does not need to be sacrificed for the other.
By Jason Starr and Randall Trice
(Left to right: Randall Trice and Jason Starr)
Maybe you’re a coach of a youth league. Or your kids are involved in sports and you coach them at home. What tips really work to inspire young athletes to give their best and not grow discouraged with defeat or setbacks? Here at Hillsides, we have two campus supervisors, Jason Starr and Randall Trice, who respectively also happen to be a former professional basketball player and a former collegiate basketball player. The two, who also serve as Hillsides coaches/athletic directors, have created the first-ever Hillsides co-ed basketball team, the Hillsides Hawks. Here, they give their top five tips for coaching youth:
Coaching Tip # 1: Motivate through specific clear short-term goals. Large or general goals can be overwhelming, so we break a practice into fun, manageable goals that don’t overwhelm the players. For example, we have a drill called “hot spot shooting,” where each player picks his or her favorite spot to shoot from and we motivate them to make as many baskets as they can in a row. Then we also total up all the shots to see how many we made as a team.
Coaching Tip # 2: Reward attitude as much as skills. During practice, we often give our players goals that don’t have to do with the game of basketball. For example, we may ask our players to give a certain amount of encouragements or compliments to team members. Or we’ll challenge the team to see who can give the most high-fives in an hour. This is part of our effort to keep the Hawks interested and enthusiastic about the opportunity to participate on an organized team and to create an understanding between winning and success. Success isn’t always about winning the game but how you treat your teammates and handle yourself on the court.
Coaching Tip # 3: Manage expectations. A player can have a self-expectations, team expectations, family expectations, coach expectations, and analytical (statistical) expectations that all influence a player’s performance and demeanor. If an athlete has high expectations towards challenges, it is human nature for the athlete to do whatever it takes and give a dedicated effort in meeting and exceeding that expectation. Problem is, some players have too high expectations and feel pressured, while others have the opposite issue – too low of expectations. Apathy can become a hindering habit.
To handle players with too-high expectations, we emphasize the fun of the sport and the mindset of “just playing,” as this takes away the pressure. For the other type of athlete, we create a behavioral contract that we have found to be very successful. Our contract looks like this, but you can modify it to meet the needs of your players.
Hillsides Hawks Sportsmanship Contract
Coaching Tip # 4: Be careful with criticism. For a coach to establish an effective environment it is key to build genuine relationships among team and praise athletes for doing well as much as possible. One way we create a positive atmosphere even when we must give criticism is by using the “positive sandwich” method. We start by giving praise, then give the correction/advice and end the point of instruction with positive feedback for constructive criticism. This makes the criticism a lot easier to hear without making a player defensive or discouraged.
Coaching Tip # 5: Emphasize the value of every player. One individual may make a basket, but we help the players understand every basket is actually a team effort. We will break down a play to praise and acknowledge the small details that are just as important in getting that basket. We also stress that in basketball there are different roles. Someone has to shoot, someone has to pass, someone has to rebound and someone has to defend. However, one common role everyone on the team has is to recognize the value of each role and be a supportive teammate. The value of teamwork can never be stressed enough.
-Jason Starr, a former pro basketball player, is a campus supervisor and athletic coordinator/coach at Hillsides.
-Randall Trice, former collegiate basketball player, is a campus supervisor and athletic coordinator/coach at Hillsides.
Without joining the ranks of alarmists, it is prudent at the start of any new administration, whether local, state or federal, to initiate a discussion with new policymakers regarding the critical issues that challenge those we serve. Conservatively, 90 percent of our community-based services are offered in Spanish and benefit members of the Latino community. In particular, immigration policy is an important issue, especially if immigration reform initiatives might separate parents from their American-born children or result in the deportation of undocumented children who have been educated and raised in the United States. This issue alone has created tremendous anxiety for many of those we serve. An environment of unease threatens the well-being of these children and families and fosters a secretive culture that often places children in particular at risk. Clarity on immigration policy and advocacy for a reasonable pathway out of the shadows that keeps families intact is imperative, especially in light of the incendiary comments about immigrants that were made during the election season.
Another important policy issue is access to affordable health care and mental health services. The most recent actions to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) call into question a number of its benefits that impact clients and employees alike. For the children we serve, the Children’s Health Insurance Plan has served to facilitate access to health care to some who otherwise would not be eligible. Repeal of ACA could place at risk this important insurance plan. In addition, the repeal measures could reintroduce annual and lifetime caps for services that would create significant financial burden on children and families with either chronic or serious health issues requiring care that would exceed the stated caps. Along with this, the exclusion of some from coverage because of pre-existing conditions is also a serious concern. These are all components of ACA that are very popular and have benefited many we serve. The elimination of any of them would create a considerable burden and only add to the challenges that these families address.
To be sure, no consistent direction has been established regarding any of these issues. However, while the actual policy is yet to be clearly defined, the movement to reverse the gains achieved through ACA and other initiatives has added to the consternation of those whose benefits have been placed at risk and provides no consolation to providers like Hillsides who are in the precarious position of struggling to plan appropriately in a most uncertain environment.
Change is always met with resistance but change for the better will be embraced if those most affected perceive that their interests are taken seriously into consideration. As advocates we encourage a dialogue that hopefully will lead to solutions which will safeguard the interests of those we serve while supporting improvements to the current system of care. Hopefully the political grandstanding that has paralyzed effective government will yield to a reasonable process of serving those who are most vulnerable. Regardless of the outcome, the pressing needs of those we serve cannot be dismissed. They must be given voice until fair and reasonable solutions are achieved.
Expectations are important because more often than not, they can influence outcomes. Some prefer to have reasonable expectations that are modest and easily achieved while others dream big and expect great results. The expectations we have affects our commitment to the achievements that are anticipated. If, for example, I expect much, I am more likely to invest more than if I hold little hope for anything to be accomplished.
What are our expectations for this new year? A new administration in Washington, D.C. has come to power with the promise of improving the lives of many who found themselves disenfranchised. As we raise a strong voice advocating for the needs of vulnerable children, youth and their families with the new administration, we expect to be heard and engaged so that those we serve may also hope for an improved life.
Building on our achievements of the last year, in 2017 we hope to meet our expanded capital campaign goal for the next phase of this important project. With the ongoing support of the community, we will begin to address the resources needed to complete the next phase of the master plan renovations of the campus. In addition, preparations have been made to comply with child welfare reforms that take effect now in the new year. As a pilot program of these reforms, Hillsides is in a position to exceed mere adherence and leverage our expertise to advance an agenda driven by the goal of permanency. Accredited since 2013, we expect that the reaccreditation process this spring will not only affirm our current practice standards but strengthen our capacity to deliver effective and quality care. Having initiated the affiliation with Bienvenidos last year, this year we anticipate to benefit from our strategic union by becoming one workforce, developing greater efficiencies and increasing funding utilization to create a greater impact for those in our care.
More than anything else, the expectation we hold for 2017 is to have a lasting impact on all we serve and to effectively use all the resources at our disposal to strengthen families and transform communities.
Are these reasonable expectations? Nothing less should be expected because to do so is to rob those we serve of what they so desperately need, which would be unacceptable. Once again the year ahead will be busy and hopefully impactful. What we hope to achieve will be the result of a collective effort that engages clients, staff, donors and the whole community to fulfill our mission of creating last change. As we begin this new year, let us embrace great expectations and be relentless in achieving much for those we serve.
CREATING LASTING CHANGE
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