September and October have been busy months for public policy. Your Alliance has been working hard to move legislation forward through advocacy such as testifying at hearings, meetings with elected officials, and working with its partner coalitions.
In September the Alliance and YMCA staff testified on two bills in front of the Joint Committee on Education.
The first was (HB336/SB266) "An Act to improve educational outcomes for children in the Commonwealth from birth through school age". This legislation, led by the Alliance with the Boys and Girls Club, MADCA, and The United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley calls to increase the Early Education and After School Rate Reserve by 3% annually as well as mandates that the Department of Early Education and Care develop a plan to remove children from the Early Education and After School Wait list within 90 days.
Three great advocates, Laureen Browning from the South Shore YMCA, Joanne Russo from the Greater Boston YMCA, and Luisa Perez Jimenez from the Merrimack Valley YMCA, testified in support of this legislation.
The Alliance offered written testimony on (SB286) "An Act Providing Immediate Child Care Assistance to Homeless Families". This bill seeks to provide and regulate childcare for homeless families in the Commonwealth by reinstating automatic childcare vouchers.
Also heard at the September hearing, (HB443) "An Act to support schools and communities to increase opportunities for physical activity" clarifies the liability law for schools and community organizations. With this clarification Shared Use Agreements will become easier to implement. Research shows that a community is healthier and gets more physical activity when a Shared Use Agreement is in place.
In October the Alliance will be offering written testimony on (HB429) "An Act relative to ensuring the well being of all children in the Commonwealth". This legislation is an omnibus bill that seeks to improve the well being of children through housing, feeding programs, and healthcare. The Alliance wrote the first section of the legislation that would expand the length of time a homeless family is allowed to utilize a homeless childcare voucher.
Also in October the Alliance hosted a discussion on Shared Use Agreements. This discussion brought together experts from Massachusetts and the country to discuss the benefits of Shared Use.
ESTABLISHING SCHEDULES FOR EMPLOYEES
We are closely following (HB1708) "An Act establishing just schedules for employees", while nonprofits have been written out of this legislation we feel it is important to continue to follow the trajectory of this bill.
PUBLIC ACCOMMODATION FOR GENDER
We are also following (SB735) "An Act relative to transgender anti-discrimination", this legislation had a hearing in early October and the Alliance was there to listen and learn. This legislation is expected to pass and the Alliance is working to prepare Ys for compliance.
We are happy to announce that (SB1976) "An Act to promote quality physical education", legislation in its original iteration increased the minimum mandated time for physical education in schools, has been voted out of the Joint Committee on Education and is now in the Senate Committee on Ways and Means, this bill has been filed for the past ten years and this is the quickest it has ever been voted out of committee. The language of the bill has been changed to remove the mandated minimum time for P.E. but it still includes an evaluation of current P.E. standards throughout the state.
HOMELESS CHILDREN IN MOTELS
The Alliance is also redoubling its efforts to pass (SB221) "An Act creating the Home Works Program", legislation that would create vouchers for children living in motels through the Emergency Assistance Program to attend out of school time programs and camp.
DEPARTMENT OF EARLY EDUCATION AND CARE
The Alliance continues to attend every Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) board meeting monthly. These meetings provide important updates on programs, projects, and support from EEC. The Alliance also has representation on the EEC Advisory Board, with Debbie Amaral CEO of the Malden YMCA, sitting on this group. The YMCA is represented on the Quality Rating Improvement System working group by Heidi Kaufman of the Metrowest YMCA and Joanne Russo of the Greater Boston YMCA. Both Heidi and Joanne, along with Kathy Treglia from the South Coast YMCA, sit on the Process Work Team (PWT) as they work with EEC to solve the Child Care Financial Assistance (CCFA) program issues.
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND DIABETES PREVENTION PROGRAM
The Alliance is working with the Department of Public Health (DPH) to bring YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program in specific communities. Stay tuned for some exciting news next month on how the Alliance and DPH are using 1422 funds to expand diabetes prevention in the state.
FROZEN REGULATIONS AND CHRISTIANS LAW
The Baker Administration has frozen all regulations under his office. They are also reviewing all regulations under the Administration as there have been complaints that there are too many burdensome regulations throughout the state.
Christians Law Regulations have been stalled. Christians Law mandates that there must be a personal floatation device available for all children in camp settings if they are swimming in open water (pond, lake, and ocean). The regulations have been stalled but the Department of Public Health has issued interim guidance until the regulations are released.
Guidance can be found here.
Overtime Exemption Regulations at the Federal Level. The Obama Administration has released draft regulations to increase the
overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Y-USA offered comments to the Department of Labor on September 4th on these proposed regulations. To see these comments click here.
The Alliance will continue to keep you updated as we hear more information on the final regulations
The Alliance staff has been named to a few new state wide task forces these past few months.
CANCER PREVENTION AND CONTROL
Kate-Marie, Director of Public Policy, has been asked to sit on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Cancer Prevention and Control Program Steering Committee to represent prevention work with nutrition and exercise.
SEXUAL ABUSE PREVENTION
Executive Director Peter Doliber was appointed by Governor Baker to serve on the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Task Force. This group of youth serving organizations, child advocates, and state agencies including the Department of Children and Families, Department of Public Health, Department of Early Education and Care, and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, is working on framework to create a processes whereby all organizations serving youth, from karate studios to Ys to mentoring groups can be safe for children. The legislature recently voted to extend the sunset of the task force to provide ample time for implementation of recommendations. The Y is playing an important role in this work to help make our state safer for children.
MASSHEALTH AND MEDICAID
Peter was also asked to serve on the Health Homes Task Force. This is one of six groups convened by MassHealth to make recommendations regarding federal funding for Medicaid. The Y is one of the few community service organizations involved in these discussions. Recommendations will include changes in what may be paid by Medicaid. The Ys is advocating for inclusion of the CDC recommendations regarding the availability of reimbursement to community based non medical providers who can demonstrate and medically beneficial service upon referral from a medical provider.