The deadline of March 31 for signing up for the Affordable Care Act is quickly approaching. However, if you are eligible for Medicaid, you can enroll at anytime, and do not have to meet the March 31 deadline. Our Youth & Young Adult Committee learned this, and much more from Tabitha Jensen, Executive Director of Teen Feed, who came to their meeting this morning and gave a presentation on the importance of signing up young people for the Affordable Care Act. If you are interested in learning more, you can see her presentation: Teen Feed Youth & Young Adult Healthcare Presentation.
It is true, bipartisanship really does still exist! The 72-hour notification bill (SB 5147/HB 1250), one of the Coalition’s legislative priorities, passed the Senate unanimously and easily passed in the House this past week with only seven voting against it.
This bill sought to reinstate an important part of the Becca Bill which gave youth shelters up to 72 hours to notify a youth’s guardian after she or he checked into a youth shelter. Because the law “sunset,” the number of hours before a shelter staff person had to contact authorities suddenly decreased from three days to only eight hours. Eight hours is not enough time for the adult staff working at a shelter to engage with youth and be able to develop rapport. Many youth come to shelters after they have run away from disturbed or dangerous family situations, and they need time to feel secure, calm down, and assess their options in a safe place. Thanks to the legislators of our State, youth will now be less likely to avoid shelters for fear that their families, police, or child protective services will be alerted right away. Advocates are now asking Governor Jay Inslee to sign the bill into law on Youth Advocacy Day this Friday, February 22, to show the youth of Washington State that their governor and legislators are behind them.
Even though we have a very exciting win, our advocacy does not stop here. As Youth Advocacy Day approaches, one of the Coalition’s priorities, the Youth Opportunities Act (HB 1651 / SB 5689 ), is still under consideration. Currently Washington is one of only eight states that makes juvenile records open to the public and available to be published online. This means that people with criminal records from their youth, before the age of 18, are subject to additional barriers accessing housing, education, and employment. The Youth Opportunities Act would seal juvenile records to the public, except in the case of serious violent offenses, and prohibit courts from disseminating or selling this information. This information is currently sold to background check companies who make money at the expense of youth and young adults.
The Youth Opportunities Act would remove barriers for young people seeking opportunities, and keep them from paying for childhood mistakes in their adult lives. Please take action to move this bill out of committee and onto the house floor by making a public comment on the Senate version of the bill or by calling your legislators using the legislative hotline, 1-800-562-6000.
P.S. For a great summary of youth advocacy around these and other important issues, check out Senator Frockt’s blog post!
Many people begin their internships with standard orientation procedures like familiarizing yourself with your computer, the filing system, office supplies and setting up voicemail and email. Not me – I spent my first day of my United Church of Christ Social Justice Internship with SKCCH at the Coalition’s Youth and Young Adult Advocacy Summit and I could not have asked for a better introduction to this small but mighty organization.
I was extremely inspired by the 25 youth and young adults who participated in the Summit on September 10-11 and I left each day far more educated on the struggles displaced youth and young adults face because I spoke with them directly about it. It was amazing to have the opportunity to sit down with these young people and listen to the inventive solutions they came up with that could solve their daily struggles. I could not have learned all I did in those two days even if I had sat at a desk for weeks reading up on issues affecting young people who are homeless.
On day one of the Youth Summit, the participants, with support from peer leaders and service providers came up with four priorities after rounds of voting and then divided themselves into groups as to which priority they felt most passionate about. The priorities for this year were:
Each group then came up with key talking points and solutions that they wanted to present to the city council member who they would be talking to on the second day. A detailed outline of these points and solutions is below.
On the first day we also had some amazing speakers present at the summit including Josh Hicks, Jim Theofolis, Steve Daschle, Kim Jones and Nancy Amidei. These experienced advocates both inspired and taught the youth and young adults about advocacy and the importance of civic engagement. We would like to thank them for taking the time to participate in our summit. The participants were constantly referring to their advice as they prepared to speak to the Councilmembers.
The second day of the Youth Summit began with time for groups to prepare their topics and presentations for Councilmembers. Crystal Shaw, from the Human Services Department of the City of Seattle, was instrumental on this day. She oriented the youth and young adults to the City Council that morning and went above and beyond by lending support to participants and organizers throughout the day.
The groups then went up and presented to City of Seattle Councilmembers Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin, and Sally Clark. A collective group also presented to the Human Services Department on all four priorities in the afternoon. We would like to thank all the Councilmembers involved as well as the Human Services Department for ensuring that this Summit was a very positive experience of civic engagement for the participants. Officials took the time to really listen, giving this group, who sometimes feels silenced, a voice on policy issues important to their daily life.
This Youth Summit could not have happened without the amazing time, energy, and dedication of our Youth and Young Adults Committee Co-Chairs, Melissa King from Friends of Youth and Kathleen Murphy from ROOTS Young Adult Shelter.
Just a week into my AmeriCorps VISTA term with the Coalition last September, I was lucky enough to sit in on SKCCH’s 2011 Youth Advocacy Summit and chat with participants about the challenges they face living without a stable home in King County. The Homeless Coalition’s Youth Advocacy Summit is a two day event for homeless and at-risk youth and young adults to identify and discuss policy issues that are most important to them. Youth learn about and practice advocacy skills by bringing identified issues before City of Seattle and King County officials. I found last year’s Summit to be informative and inspiring – for both the youth and the elected officials involved. Youth were able to voice their opinions on issues from the need for more low-income friendly transportation to the lack of public toilets and lockers. Their top 5 priorities were the following:
- Housing/Services for Unaccompanied Minors
- Career Development
- Public Storage and Lockers
- Service Stewardship
More details here: 2011 Youth Summit Participant Priorities
This year’s Youth and Young Adult Advocacy Summit is less than 3 weeks away: September 10 and 11. Through presentations by guests speakers like Nancy Amidei (Civic Engagement Project), members of the Seattle Human Services Coalition, and staff from the Mockingbird Society, youth participants will learn about how Seattle and King County governments set policies and budgets and how their voices can make a difference in policy decisions that affect their day to day lives. Over two days participants will work to identify issues that they care about, prepare presentations, and then meet with elected officials to bring their voices to bear on policy decision-making around the issues they care about that are affected by City and County budgeting decisions.
Members of SKCCH’s Youth & Young Adults Committee (made up of area social service and housing providers) designed this year’s annual Youth Advocacy Summit to be a meaningful entry into civic engagement for young people who have already experienced disenfranchisement. SKCCH works to make sure that the people who are directly affected by public policies are part of dialogue, debate, and decision-making. The Youth Summit is an exciting and important way to do just that:
- Engage young people in expressing their opinions, identifying priorities, and speaking up powerfully
- Inform local decision-makers who often don’t hear from youth or people who are homeless or struggling to stay housed
- Support active and informed participation in democracy to make sure that Everyone Counts
Our 2012 Youth Advocacy Summit will be held on September 10th and 11th and will include youth from across King County who have personally experienced homelessness. Questions about the 2012 Youth Summit? Contact Melissa King, co-chair of SKCCH’s Youth and Young Adult Committee, at firstname.lastname@example.org.