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Advocacy


DC AAP Executive Director Advocates Before DC Council for Teen Pregnancy Prevention Funding

On April 22nd and May 1st, DC AAP Executive Director, Nancy Schoenfeld, testified at the D.C. Council Committee on Health and Human Services Budget Oversight Hearings advocating for reauthorization of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Fund Establishment Act of 2014 to provide another year of funding for numerous highly effective teen pregnancy prevention programs.  Last year, Ms. Schoenfeld and numerous members of DC AAP’s Adolescent Health Workgroup successfully advocated for the addition of $2 million to the city’s budget to replace funding lost due to the closure of a major local funder of successful DC teen pregnancy prevention programs.

Although the Mayor’s 2016 budget included significant cuts in the Health and Human Services budget and dozens of organizations requested additional funding during the DC Council budget hearings, the Committee on Health and Human Services recommended reauthorization of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Fund Act and allocated $1.3 million in funding, which was approved by the full Council.  Although this was not the full amount requested, it was an important acknowledgment of the prioritization of teen pregnancy prevention programming.  Given that the Mayor’s budget, presented to the Council in April, did not include any teen pregnancy prevention funding, the Adolescent Health Workgroup’s advocacy efforts ensured that many successful programs will be able to continue their important work in the District of Columbia.

To view the hearing:  http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=32&clip_id=2654 (Ms. Schoenfeld’s testimony begins at approximately :30).

For more information about the D.C. Budget Process, click here: http://dccouncil.us/budget/2016


DC AAP Members Join Councilmember Charles Allen to Introduce “Books from Birth” Legislation

Speaking this morning at the Southwest Neighborhood Library, Ward 6 Councilmember Charles Allen announced he will introduce a bill on Tuesday to create a new early literacy initiative in partnership with DC Public Libraries.

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Books from Birth Speech – DC AAP President Dr. Lanre Falusi »
Books from Birth Speech – DC AAP Past President Dr. Robert Zarr »

“Less than half of third graders in the District score proficient or advanced in reading skills.  It is critical that the District confront the literacy and achievement gap at its starting point, well before it shows up in the classroom.  Books are direct building blocks for learning, but children must be exposed to them to use them,” said Allen.

Allen’s literacy initiative, “Books From Birth,” will mail a book to each child in the District every month from birth through age five, while also working to connect families with the full range of library resources and educational information, including adult literacy assistance and DCPL’s Sing, Talk, & Read early literacy program.

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DC AAP President Dr. Lanre Falusi and Past President Dr. Robert Zarr spoke at the press conference and were joined by several local pediatricians (including Drs. Muriel Wolf, Helene Felman, Lauren Hittson, and Bahareh Ravandi) donning white coats to show pediatrician support of the new initiative.

Dr. Falusi remarked, “We pediatricians encourage parents to read, talk, sing, and play with their young children, starting from birth…. Kids in wealthier families hear – and therefore, learn – more words than their peers in lower income families.  In fact, this word gap grows so dramatically that, by age 4, kids in poorer families have heard 30 million fewer words than kids in wealthier families.  Hear fewer words, learn fewer words, and the word gap becomes the achievement gap.  But when parents have the tools – in this case, books – to teach their children, we unlock children’s potential.  This is actually rooted in years of science and data.  Healthy, curious, thriving children can then become productive, stable adults.  We know that adults with higher literacy tend to have better control of chronic illness and better overall health.”

 

With Books From Birth, DC would join a growing list of municipalities and programs nationally working to close the “word gap” by increasing young children’s access to books.  Dr. Robert Zarr, a pediatrician at Unity Health Care and past president of DC AAP, spoke about the critical role early childhood literacy efforts play in school readiness.  An advocate for the Reach Out & Read book distribution program, Zarr said, “Families served by Reach Out & Read are up to four times more likely to read aloud with their children.  Increasing children’s access to books and talking with parents about the importance of reading are scientifically proven ways to close the ‘word gap’ and improve early literacy outcomes.”

Allen will introduce the Books From Birth legislation on Tuesday at the Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

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NPR Story Quotes DC AAP President, Dr. Lanre Falusi’s Hearing Testimony Against Marijuana Legalization

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Dr. Lanre Falusi’s Testimony begins at 4:24:30

SOURCE: By: Martin Austermuhle
September 13, 2013

A D.C. official is estimating that legal marijuana sales in D.C. would create a market worth $130 million a year.

In testimony delivered on Thursday to a D.C. Council committee considering a bill that would legalize and tax the sale of marijuana, Dr. Yesim Sayin Taylor of the Office of the D.C. Chief Financial Officer said that the number is based on the assumption that 122,000 people would purchase up to three ounces of marijuana every year at $350 an ounce.

Taylor said that she could not estimate how much of that D.C. would take in as revenue, since it remains unclear what — if any — excise tax the city would impose on marijuana producers, how many people might be steered away from legal sales by a proposed 15 percent sales tax, and how many people would remain in the medical marijuana program, where the sales tax is lower.

The tax-and-regulate system would also impose significant regulatory costs, she said, and could require two city agencies charged with regulating the production and sale to hire up to a dozen new employees.

Read the Full Article »


DC AAP Members Testify at DC Council Hearing on the Behavioral System of Care Act

DC AAP Treasurer, Helene Felman, MD, FAAP and Immediate Past President, Lee Savio Beers, MD, FAAP testified in support of the Behavioral Health System of Care Act of 2014 at the October 23rd DC Council Committee on Health public hearing.

Helene’s testimony starts at approx. 00:33:00. Lee’s testimony starts at approx. 1:04:00.

Across the country and in the District, there is a shortage of mental health professionals, which results in long wait times and too many children not getting mental health care until they are in a crisis. Yet, there are many basic mental health issues that pediatric providers can effectively identify and address in primary care settings – with the right support.

The Behavioral Health System of Care Act of 2014 expands mental health access for children through the District’s extensive pediatric primary care network. It increases pediatricians’ ability to identify and manage basic mental health issues among their patients. It also ensures that children who need to see mental health specialists are quickly and appropriately linked to the proper clinicians and services.

To achieve this, the bill requires the DC Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) to establish a Behavioral Health Access Project to provide timely mental health consultations to pediatric primary care providers. The legislation allows DBH to contract with a non-profit organization to carry out the functions of the Project. The Behavioral Health Access Project created by this legislation will:

  • Assemble a multidisciplinary consultative team consisting of professionals from various fields of mental health to engage with and support pediatricians in diagnosing and treating patients with mild mental health needs;
  • Provide consultative and referral services to youth under 22 who exhibit a possible mental health or substance use disorder;
  • Provide face-to-face consultations with a patient when a telephone consultation with a physician is not sufficient; and
  • Provide care coordinator and facilitated referral services for youth requiring behavioral health treatment.

DC AAP Board Member, Dr. Ankoor Shah, Testifies Before DC Council re: Gun Legislation

Today (Oct. 16th, 2014), DC AAP Board Member, Dr. Ankoor Shah, testified on behalf of DC AAP on the License to Carry a Pistol Amendment Act of 2014. The legislation was drafted by the DC Council in response to a July federal court ruling striking down the District’s ban on carrying handguns outside a person’s home.  District officials are contemplating appealing this ruling to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  In the meantime, the Council must enact legislation to provide a licensing mechanism for carry permits.  The Council has modeled the bill after strong bills from New York, New Jersey and Maryland, seeking to enact the strictest licensing requirements possible that can withstand constitutional challenge.  Today’s public hearing provided an opportunity for citizens and representatives of organizations to provide comments on the bill and make recommendations and requests for changes to the bill’s language before it becomes final.

Dr. Shah’s testimony reflected AAP’s belief that the absence of guns in homes and communities is the most reliable and effective measure to prevent firearm-related injuries in children and adolescents. Dr. Shah implored the Council to keep DC’s children in the forefront of their minds as the Council refines this legislation. Dr. Shah gave an emotional appeal, sharing his devastating clinical experience with a five-year-old patient who found her father’s gun, loaded and unlocked, and accidently shot herself in the face through her head. The entire hearing can be viewed at the following link: http://dc.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=28&clip_id=2407 Dr. Shah’s testimony begins at approximately 1 hour 52 minutes.

DC AAP Executive Director, Nancy Schoenfeld, also submitted written testimony on behalf of the chapter, recommending specific legislative changes for strengthening the bill, including prohibiting the carrying of licensed pistols into places of worship; adding specific training requirements addressing children’s exposure to guns, safe storage and child access prevention; and adding civil liability in addition to criminal liability where a child gains access to an unsecured firearm, among others.

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DC AAP President Testifies on Nutrition Standards for Women, Infants and Children Program (WIC)

DC Chapter president Dr. Lanre Falusi testified before the Institute of Medicine on Tuesday, October 14th on the importance of science-based nutrition standards for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program. The IOM has been tasked by the USDA to review WIC standards, and the AAP has advocated against pressures being placed by food industry groups to add less nutritious items to the WIC guidelines.  It is with your support as chapter members, and the strength of the AAP Federal Affairs office, that we can continue to advocate on behalf on the health and well-being of children!

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