Both locally in California and at the National level, Black Women for Wellness has been repping Black social justice at the political level.
In 2015 we hosted two major conferences in Los Angeles, passed history making legislation, launched a national initiative all while cutting down our water use in Los Angeles blazing drought weather.
Black Women for Wellness 2015 Policy Highlights:
Reproductive FACT ACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency)
Black Women for Wellness along with NARAL Pro-choice California and The California Attorney General’s Office sponsored, AB 775 or the Reproductive FACT (Freedom, Accountability, Comprehensive Care, and Transparency) Act. The Reproductive FACT Act, authored by Assemblymembers David Chiu (D-17) and Autumn Burke (D-62), ensures that California women get basic information about their reproductive options. In short AB 775, requires that licensed clinics provide clients with full information about California’s “comprehensive family planning services, prenatal care, adoption and abortion” services and notify patients about available financial assistance and contact information for those services so they can promptly enroll if needed.
The Reproductive FACT Act also requires unlicensed facilities that provide pregnancy-related care to inform clients that they are not a licensed medical facility and do not have a licensed provider on staff. This ensures that women seeking medical care related to a pregnancy receive information about all their options. This law directly addresses the proliferation of Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that use tactics to trick and deceive women about their medical options.
Unfortunately, the day after our bill was signed, the anti-choice community sued California’s state legislature over the bill. However we are confident that their argument, which is please let us legally deceive women, will not have a leg to stand on, and this law will go into effect on Jan 1, 2016.
Black Women for Wellness is working with California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez’s office to make sure that low income families have financial help when trying to buy diapers. According to a recent study in Pediatrics, an academic journal specific to children’s health, 30% of low income families lack an adequate supply of diapers. Currently it is estimated that 6.57 billion diapers are needed to keep children living in poverty clean and dry. This number is well over what most diaper banks can handle, with less than 100 diaper banks nationwide.
Over 6% of a low income families income are parents struggling to make ends meet with the high cost of diapers. As a result, children are left in diapers for long periods, diapers are reused or families must choose between diapers and food.
Not only is there the obvious health consequences of prolonged dirty diaper exposure such as UTIs, rashes and the potential complications from both health issues. As well as the added mental stress on the parents who are trying to make ends meet, there is a financial hardship as well. Many childcare facilities, including government funded ones, require parents to provide a full set of diapers in order to drop their child(ren) off. Parents who cannot provide the diapers then have to make other arrangements for childcare, including missing work, missing Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) classes that are mandatory for assistance or in some cases bringing their child with them to work or class.
In order to address how this impacts the over 1 in 5 California families living in poverty, Gonzalez introduce two diaper bills, AB 492 - which would provide a voucher subsidy for families receiving Cal-Works and AB 717 - which would remove the sales tax on diaper for infants. BWW is hopeful that 2016 will be the year that we address issues impacting low income families in California, and that these bills will be part of the package.
Once again, Black Women for Wellness is hoping that California finally repeals the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule with the passing of SB 23, authored by Sen. Mitchell’s office. This is a state law that prevents parents receiving assistance through the CalWORKs program from receiving a grant for any child born to the household while any member of the household is receiving aid. This is known as the Maximum Family Grant (MFG) rule. Without the MFG rule, the amount most households would receive in additional benefits for the newborn child is $128/month, hardly enough to pay for the child’s basic needs. Without it, these children face increased risk of homelessness and other hardship associated with extreme poverty. SB 23 is final hurdle is getting signed by California’s Gov. Brown. We are working with allied organizations to think of creative ways to raise up the needs of low income families in California.
For years California has had an outdated sexual education initiative in our schools. Some school were receiving HIV only education, while other school districts had a more comprehensive sexual education program, but still not quite reflective of today’s time. We are excited to say that starting in Jan of 2016, California will have an updated sexual education curriculum that is reflective of people of color as well as queer and transgender students. Black Women for Wellness was able to talk to our legislatures both locally and in Sacramento on the importance of passing this policy, as well as engage students at the high school level to advocate this policy.