Sunday, May 31, 2009

Board of Elections and Ethics news

The Board of Elections and Ethics has a new director:   Rokey W. Suleman II.   According to the Examiner's story, Suleman steps in as the first permanent director in almost a year.   Additional details about Suleman are on the DC BOEE Web site.

Equally exciting (at least to me) is the fab Web site which -- hold on -- includes an email subscription service for news, election results, events, and news releases.   Seriously, this is cool, so sign up today!

We CAN fix the ER closing problem

Lori Aratani's May 31 WaPo article District, Md. Hospitals Often Divert Ambulances points out one reason why District hospital ERs close:   "The reasons for the crowding often vary by hospital. Some, especially in the District, are overwhelmed by poor patients for whom the ER has become their family doctor's office."

Use of the emergency room may seen incongruous to the recently released data* that 96.5% of District's children were insured in 2007, higher than the national average of 90.9%.   ER use also seems inconsistent with data related to preventive health care visits (97.6% in the past year) and preventive dental care in the past year (81.7%).   The WaPo piece seems to make somewhat more sense considering that in 2007 less than half of young people, 49.7%, had a medical home compared with 57.5% nationally.   This, of course, in the context of the multi-million dollar investment in medical homes, an effort led by the DC Primary Care Association (DCPCA).

All of this data, even together, makes sense if you understand the history of SCHIP in the District.   Certainly, I'm no expert, but I was on the periphery of the SCHIP expansion in DC under the leadership of DC Action for Children with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF).   The District's Income Maintenance Administration (IMA) in the Department of Human Services focused on getting young people and the adults in the household enrolled in DC Healthy Families, the city's SCHIP program.   Major policy and practice wins were achieved including a shortened application, intensive outreach to enroll and recertify, and customized engagement of "new" populations not usually considered when talking about public benefits.

One of the most vexing and challenging aspects of health care expansion and reform is behavior change.   This should come as no surprise if you have ever tried to change your behavior.   It should also come as no surprise given that a good proportion of adult Medicaid recipients are hourly workers or workers with inflexible work schedules.   What, in my view, we have to do now is to 1) prioritize behavior change and 2) address workforce challenges.

It is not too late to fix this problem.

*Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. 2007 National Survey of Children's Health, Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health website. Retrieved [05/31/09] from www.nschdata.org)


Saturday, May 30, 2009

Engrossed BSA is here!!!!

Yes, the engrossed version is finally publicly available!   Be sure to read all 278 pages (!) before second vote on June 2!

Interested in poverty issues?

If you have not already, you must start following Kathyrn Baer's blog Poverty & Policy.   Kathryn tackles a bunch of issues in an "an effort to use my skills on behalf of policies that will improve the lives of poor people and eliminate the root causes of poverty."   Subscribe via RSS or email and you will read about affordable housing, food and nutrition, the DC budget, homelessness, and much more.

More on nonprofits and political campaigns

Fellow advocate and blogger Kathryn Baer (of Poverty & Policy fame) adds some other great ideas to my earlier post Election 2010 underway:
  • Ask questions.   Raising questions about what candidates think and what they would do can put issues on their radar screens and let them know that there are constituents (or potential constituents) who are interested.   It can also help get beyond the fog of the general statements local candidates tend to issue.   "I'll improve our public schools, etc."
  • Pull together the answers and/or positions the candidates have taken.   An issue-by-issue crosswalk is useful and something that can be shared.
  • Encourage active grassroots involvement.   While nonprofits can't engage in partisan campaigns, their supporters and clients certainly can.   And, as many readers know, active involvement in campaigns opens doors later.
  • Encourage everyone—supporters, clients and staff—to vote.   A government relations team I've worked for has mantra that's applicable here:   More legislative battles are won on election day than during an entire legislative session.

Got any more ideas to share?   Email them to me and I'll add them to the running list.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Web conference on child well being data, June 2

This FREE June 2 Web conference on the "New Findings from the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH)" is a must attend event.   The presentation will be held from 2:00 - 3:00 pm ET; complete details are here.

Why you should participate:

[the survey] examines the physical and emotional health of children from birth through 17 years of age.   Emphasis is placed on factors that may be related to the well-being of children, including medical homes, family interactions, parental health, school experiences, and neighborhood safety.
This Web conference will provide an overview of the survey methodology, discuss potential applications of the survey as well as selected findings, and provide information about accessing National- and State-level survey data online and highlight key State-level survey results. (Taken directly from email announcing the presentation.)

If you are not familiar with the survey or the 2007 results for DC, check out a recent blog post.

Safe haven testimony of CFSA

Here is the testimony from CFSA Acting Director Dr. Roque Gerald from the safe haven hearing on May 28.

Rules/regs in May 29 DCR

Out-of-boundary final rules:   The Chancellor of DCPS has issued a notice of final rulemaking and adoption of rules amending Title 5, Chapter 21 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).   The final rules make changes in out-of-boundary transfers and students generally. The rules also change the Chancellor’s discretionary authority to approve out-of-boundary transfers.

Proposed change to Medicaid:   The Department of Health Care Finance (DCHF) issued proposed rules to establish a "Maximum Allowable Cost (MAC) program for prescription drugs covered by the Medicaid program."   According to the proposal,

The MAC rate will be the maximum amount the District will reimburse a pharmacy for affected multi-source drugs. Implementation of the MAC standardizes the rate of reimbursement to pharmacies, thus encouraging pharmacies to obtain the lower priced multi-source drug for dispensing purposes.   Medicaid state agencies are adopting MAC programs as a best practice initiative to contain the increasing cost of prescription drugs needed by Medicaid recipients.   The MAC program will work together with the Preferred Drug List to help DHCF to obtain the lowest price for prescription drugs, consistent with quality of care standards.   DHCF estimates savings of more than $4 million dollars from the new MAC.

DCHF plans to take final rulemaking action in no fewer than 30 days from the date of publication.   The public is encouraged to comment and those details are in the proposed rules.   (See page 4186)

State Superintendent of Education proposes rules on due process:   These rules describe the procedures for resolution meetings and due process hearings.   OSSE plans to take final rulemaking action in no fewer than 30 days from the date of publication.   The public is encouraged to comment and those details are in the proposed rules.   (See page 4208)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

New calendar updates - check 'em out!

Be sure to check out the calendar for events that have just been added.   New listings re: community meetings, public hearings, etc.

Safe haven bill supporters prevail

Today the Committee on Human Services held a hearing on B18-0180, "Newborn Safe Haven Act of 2009", a bill that would create a legislative framework for giving up very young children without penalty to the parent under specific conditions.   CMs Tommy Wells (chair of the committee and Ward 6 representative) and David Catania (At-large member) attended and actively participated in the hearing.   The bill is a collaborative one between CMs Wells and Catania; to say that the latter is passionate about this issue is a tremendous understatement.

Four public witnesses testified today:

  • Robert Malson, Chief Executive Officer of the DC Hospital Association (DCHA)
  • Marley Greiner, brought in to testify by child welfare advocates opposing the bill
  • Joyce A. Fourth Clemons, Communications Director of the DC Campaign To Prevent Teen Pregnancy
  • Susan Ogden, Domestic Infant Program Director at Adoptions Together

Dr. Roque Gerald and Loren Ganoe, both from CFSA, represented the executive.

No matter the objections from two of the witnesses, seems that this bill will go forward with some modifications.   DCHA's Bob Malson and CFSA are expected to pitch in with additional information and some TA.   Final passage will make CM Catania very happy indeed.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

And on the subject of the elections. . .

The Ward 7 Democrats' May 30 meeting will feature a discussion on "Election Day: Addressing Same Day Voter Registration and Other Election Day Ideas and Procedures." The panelists are:
  • Vialetta Brown, DC Board of Elections
  • Arlin Budoo, DC Board of Elections
  • Adam Fogel, FairVote
  • Phillip Pannell, DC Democratic State Committee and Ward 8 Committeeman

Come out and learn about current and proposed voter registration and Election Day procedures and ideas from a uniquely qualified panel.   The meeting will be held at 12:30 pm at Ward Memorial AME Church, 241 42nd St, NE.

Dr. Gerald confirmation imminent

CM Tommy Wells (Ward 6), chair of the Committee on Human Services, has recommended committee approval of the confirmation resolution of Roque Gerald to direct the Child and Family Services Agency according to the May 27 committee report.

The report summarizes the testimony of the 13 public witnesses; the majority of them supported the appointment.   Also summarized is the testimony of the appointee; his testimony is here.   Questions from committee members concerned meeting the LaShawn benchmarks; Council input into outcome goals for CFSA; placement stability and disruptions; prevention; performance-based contracting; and the vision for the agency, particularly about how it will be functioning in three years.   CM Wells concluded his questions by reminding Dr. Gerald that the committee will hold an oversight hearing in January 2010 on the FY 2010 BSA provisions.

Fixed Draft Clark Ray link

So the earlier post on the 2010 election cycle had an bad link for the draft Ray site.   It is fixed and is also here.   Apologies for any inconvenience!

Election 2010 underway + using campaign lit to your benefit

The 2010 campaign has gained steam in the past 24 hours with mainstream media coverage.

Yesterday came the announcement of the Draft Clark Ray for DC Council-at-Large Committee.   Outlets like the Examiner highlight committee supporters such as Cora Masters Barry (no more details needed!) and Laurie Collins (resident advocate in Mount Pleasant and campaigner in the Fenty mayoral campaign).   But note that those long involved in community work, much in the nonprofit sector, including Kim L.E. Bell and Pat Fisher, as well as society page residents like Simone Green, are also members of the committee boosting Clark.   Media reports -- from the Washington Blade to the WCP City Desk blog to the aforementioned Washington Examiner have more on the whys and wherefores of the campaign, whether Clark will be taking on fellow Dem Phil Mendelson or Independent David Catania.   Details about the candidate, campaign, etc. are on the draft Ray site.

Also out yesterday was the Brookland Heartbeat, an all-volunteer community newspaper that began in June 2005 to provide local news of interest to residents and businesses in greater Brookland, which included a piece on CM Michael Brown.   Councilmember Michael Brown Eyes 2010 Mayoral Race is all about how the CM believes that "Mayor Adrian Fenty for leading the District in the wrong direction."   (If you have not already signed up to receive notices of the latest edition of the BH, do so today -- details are on the Web site.)

Other candidates' names are being bandied about by Loose Lips and in DC Watch's themail.

Susie's commentary on the democratic practice of fair and open elections and not the candidates themselves:   During my 11 years at DC Action for Children and since that time, I have encouraged nonprofits to pay close attention to local political campaigns and to use them as an advocacy tool.   In my view, "paying attention" is more than voter guides and candidate fora.   To me, "paying attention" means reading the paper (and now blogs, etc.) everyday for quotes and position statements from candidates.   It means collecting this information (quotes, position papers from campaign Web sites) in a methodical way and then using the information when necessary.   What does "using" mean?   Things like:

  • Asking for clarification on statements made/positions taken
  • Following the election, in a letter of introduction/congratulations/call it what you like, reminding them of the promises made
  • Using the statements/positions throughout the elected officials' tenure as a reminder of promises made, as leverage to ensure commitments are kept, etc.
  • In the event rallies or protests are your thing, putting quotes on signs and banners
  • Using the information in reports, analyses, testimony, op-eds, letters to the editor
  • Using campaign literature, etc. to inform your advocacy approach if the person is elected

If your staff is too busy to do this collection work -- which I have to say I don't accept if the work is important enough to you -- it is a terrific gig for volunteers.

Have you used campaign literature, candidate quotes in other ways?   Please share with me and I will post here.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DYRS study on recidivism

The Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) released Public Safety Outcomes among DYRS Youth, a recidivism report, in late 2008.   Two reasons it is important:
  • First, juvenile crime is a favorite topic of conversation especially in warming and warm weather.   This is particularly the case on the many community electronic discussion lists.
  • Second, the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary is considering the omnibus crime bill.   While the legislation does not specifically contemplate recidivism, the challenges of recidivism and the adoption of a common definition of it should be part of the dialogue.

The report analyzes re-conviction rates and other data for juveniles committed to DYRS as a way to assess the public safety impact of the many DYRS reform efforts.

Susie's commentary:   This is a useful tool, one that I wish I had known about when I was working on another project.   It contains information that is often absent from the public discourse on youth involvement in crime and delinquency, one that in fact refutes much of the current thinking about the revolving door of youth detention and re-involvement in crime.

One of DC's finest recognized for work with and on behalf of youth

Belated congratulations to Commander Lillian Overton of the Metropolitan Police Department, one winner of the Council for Court Excellence (CCE) 13th Annual Justice Potter Stewart Award.   The other winner was Earl Silbert of DLA Piper.   The awardees have been described as "shining examples of service in our justice community."   The majority of Cmdr. Overton's 25-year career has been dedicated to children as victims and perpetrators of crime and to working with others in the public and private sectors to provide the services and supports (and a nudge in the right direction) children and youth need to make good choices for themselves and others.   Pictures of the event are here on the Bisnow site.

New approach to JJ at New Beginnings

After years of advocacy and planning, the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS) is opening its new youth detention/rehabilitation center, New Beginnings Youth Development Center, on May 29.   The grand opening will take place from 10:00 – 11:00 am at 8400 River Road in Laurel, MD.    Those who want to attend must RSVP to Sherry Deane at sherry[DOT]deane[AT]dc[DOT]gov.

DYRS director Vincent Schiraldi provided details about New Beginnings in his testimony on the mayor’s proposed FY 2010 budget.   Highlights are:

  • The new facility has a 60 bed capacity
  • locked treatment program for the city’s deepest end youth
  • Move DYRS toward compliance with Jerry M. class action lawsuit

The construction, costing $44,460,340, was on time, and on budget, according to the Committee on Human Services.   The committee also expressed some skepticism about DYRS’s plans in their draft FY 2010 mark-up report:

There is some concern that 60 beds may not be enough, given the increase in the number of new commitments in recent years. Of 740 committed youth during FY 2010, there will only be room for 60 at the new Oak Hill facility.   The remaining 680 youth will be placed in Residential Treatment Centers, Group Homes, with relatives (including back in their own homes) and in Independent Living settings.   The majority of the youth committed to DYRS for committing crimes in the District will be placed by the Agency in community–based settings, where the community itself will bear much of the responsibility for keeping these youth out of trouble, and getting them back on the right track.


Saturday, May 23, 2009

Community development using ARRA funds proposed; public comments due ASAP

The Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) issued a notice of review and public comment in the May 22 edition of the DCR related to the proposed use of federal stimulus funds associated with the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).   (See page 4133)   The city is receiving $4.9 million in ARRA funds. The 10-page proposal provides limited details on four items:
  • Commercial Corridor/Small Business Development ($400,000 in CDBG-R)
  • Storefront Fa├žade Improvement ($700,000 in CDBG-R)
  • Barbara Chambers Children’s Center ($0)
  • Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) (just under $3 million in CDBG-R)
Each project includes a brief description, other funding, immediate impact, job creation and economic benefit, job creation and retention, and energy conservation.

The public is encouraged to comment on the proposal; the deadline is COB May 29.   The actual proposal and details about commenting are on page 10.

Emergency regs prohibit swimming in certain waterways

The Department of the Environment issued emergency rules, effective May 22, 2009, related to being in contact with the Potomac and Anacostia Rivers and Rock Creek.   The emergency rules prohibit swimming or being in these waters. The exceptions are on June 21 and September 13 when special events will be held featuring swimming in the Potomac River.   The rules are designed to maintain good public health.   (See page 4124)

CMs: Please attend July 1 CFRC hearing

We can expect that CM Phil Mendelson, chair of the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, will be the major questioner of witnesses at the July 1 CFRC hearing.   But remember that there are four other members of the committee:   Ward 2's Jack Evans, Ward 3's Mary M. Cheh, Ward 4's Muriel Bowser, and Ward 7's Yvette M. Alexander.

Also remember that the issue and child fatality recommendations also involve health (under the purview of the Committee on Health, Catania, chair), education (under the purview of the Committee of the Whole, Gray, chair), and juvenile justice (under the purview of the Committee on Human Services, Wells, chair). All in all, then, all members of the City Council have some responsibility for oversight of this issue and implementation of the recommendations.

My point?   That residents of Wards 2, 3, 4, and 7 should urge their representatives to attend and actively participate in the hearing.   As we would expect, Ward 8 had the highest number of youth deaths investigated by the committee.   Of the 160 deaths analyzed in the report, 36 were from Ward 8.   But other wards felt the pain as is illustrated in the report (page 5, page 11 of 54).   Those analysts, advocates and providers working with the health and human services committee as well as the Committee of the Whole should also encourage committee staff and chairs to pay close attention to this issue.

There is no single fix to this problem.   Many things have to change to keep kids alive and safe.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Final rules published in the May 22 DCR

Final rules:
  • The Director of the Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) has issued final rules entitled "Medicaid Reimbursement For Mental Health Rehabilitative Services (MHRS)."   The purpose of these final rules is to (1) set forth the appropriate billing code for the MHRS services and increases in reimbursement rates for certain MHRS services: medication/somatic treatment, counseling, community-based intervention (CBI) and assertive community treatment (ACT); (2) establish a new billing code for assessing eligibility of consumers for behavioral health services; and (3) establish a rate differential and new billing code for CBI Level I (multi-systemic) services.   (See page 4098)
  • The Board of Commissioners of the District of Columbia Housing Authority (DCHA) has issued final amendments to selected provisions of Title 14 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations.   The final rule changes relate to Chapter 95, Rent Subsidy Programs, specifically the Local Rent Supplement Program.   The commissioners’ May 13 vote approving the amendments are effective upon publication in the Register.   (See page 4101)
  • The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) issued final rules entitled "State-wide Academic Assessments."   OSSE requires District-wide testing annually for the assessment and evaluation of student achievement in public and public charter schools, including students receiving educational services funded by the District of Columbia in other states.   In this regard the final regulation clarifies that Section A2301.4 does not apply to children who are wards of the District of Columbia living outside the District, and participate in a statewide assessment administered by schools they attend in another jurisdiction.   The District of Columbia’s annual academic assessment is currently administered through the District of Columbia Comprehensive Assessment System (DC-CAS).   (See page 4105)
  • OSSE has issued final rules, adopting a new Chapter A54 to subchapter A of Title 5 of the District of Columbia Municipal Regulations (DCMR).   The rules establish procedures for an eligible applicant to appeal to OSSE a decision by a District of Columbia Eligible Chartering Authority denying a petition to establish a public charter school in the District of Columbia.   Proposed rules were published for comment on March 20, 2009 (56 DC Register 2276) and are being adopted in final as proposed.   (See page 4108)

Get ready for the CFRC hearing

Here are some documents that might help the public prepare for the July 1 public hearing on the most recent annual report from the Child Fatality Review Committee (CFRC):
  • District of Columbia Child Fatality Review Committee 2007 Annual Report, presented to Mayor Fenty in December 2008.   What is particularly interesting about this report is that it is not on the DC government Web site but rather on that of the National Center for Child Death Review Policy and Practice/National MCH Center for Child Death Review.

    In fact, the following appears on the Web site of the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner:   "CFRC Annual Reports: CFRC annual reports are available in hard copies."   (Contact information is provided so the public may request a copy.)   Yet you can only get to this page by conducting an Internet search; I tried many ways to find this page from the main OCME site but no luck.   Why is this important? Well, one of the criticisms of the government is their failure to use the recommendations to improve practice.   It’s really hard to make improvements if you don’t know what the recommendations are. . . .

  • District of Columbia Child Fatality Review Committee 2006 Annual Report and the District of Columbia Child Fatality Review Committee 2006 Recommendations and Agency Responses.   These documents are important because they were part of 2007 and 2008 efforts by the city’s leadership (the mayor, senior aide and now AG Peter Nickles, and CM Tommy Wells) to ensure that the recommendations made were implemented.   The July 1, 2009 hearing will hopefully bring to light the government’s current commitment to adopting the recommended changes.
  • Fenty freezes hiring, cuts budget of committee to prevent child deaths by the Examiner’s Bill Myers in August 2008.   I hope that CM Mendelson makes a point to determine how the mayor planned to implement the 2006 recommendations in this context:
    Mayor Adrian Fenty has instituted a hiring freeze and is slashing the budget of the city agency charged with making recommendations to prevent children’s deaths in D.C., The Examiner has learned.
    The Child Fatality Review Committee looks over every child’s death in D.C. and compiles an annual report designed to help city leaders shape policies to protect kids. In February. Fenty froze its staff, leaving the committee with several unfilled positions, including a key coordinator.
  • In 2001, three Washington Post reporters published a series of investigative pieces shining light on cases of a "pattern of official neglect".   Sari Horwitz, Scott Higham and Sarah Cohen won a 2002 Pulitzer for their investigative reporting.   About the committee’s recommendations, the journalists wrote this:
    In eight years of confidential reports, fatality committee members issued more than 300 warnings about these and other problems in reviews of the 180 deaths, the analysis showed.   They proposed specific solutions to the mayor, the D.C. Council, the police chief, the director of the Child and Family Services Agency and the chief judge of D.C. Superior Court.   But over the years, even as some officials left and new ones took over, the great majority of the proposed solutions went unheeded.
    "No one paid any attention to us," said Elizabeth Siegel, a lawyer and fatality committee member.
    Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), who was elected in 1998, is working to revamp the entire system.

Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary hearings announced in 5/22 DCR

The following City Council hearing notices were published in the May 22 edition of the DC Register.   They are all convened by the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary (CM Mendelson, chair).

Grant reviewers needed for CYITC proposals

The DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corporation (Trust, CYITC) is looking for people interested in and knowledgeable about youth development and/or out-of-school time (OST) to be grant reviewers for the FY 2010 grant competition.   In addition to reading and rating proposals, reviewers will have the opportunity to network with colleagues, hone their grant review skills, and learn what makes a strong proposal.

Susie's commentary:   Having been a reviewer for the Trust on a few occasions, I think this is a terrific opportunity to learn about some truly wonderful, successful, high quality programs working with young people in the District.   It is well worth the time.   And for you bosses out there, this is a terrific professional development opportunity for your staff.   So if you are interested, be sure to get your resume in by COB May 29.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New health and community data

The results of the 2007 National Survey of Children's Health was just released.   The survey results show for the states and DC more than 100 child health indicators on topics such as insurance, oral health, mental health, and risk for developmental delays.   On this site you will find comparison's of DC and nationwide data as well as detailed results by subgroups (such as age and household income).   Also incredibly useful is the tool that allows users to perform a customized data search.

Highlights from the report are:

  • DC is better than nationwide when it comes to kids having health insurance (96.5% in DC to 90.9% nationwide)
  • In the area of risk of developmental or behavior problems, 30.1% of parents in DC have concerns compared to 26.4% nationwide
  • Only 67.6% of children in DC live in supportive neighborhoods versus 83.2% nationwide

Susie on SYEP

If you have not read the piece I wrote and was so generously posted on GGW, you should check it out: Children should not be the breadwinners.   I've been reading the comments with interest and to those who believe that I am suggesting families should starve, you miss the point.   There are plenty of public policies that can help move families out of poverty (BTW, I think it should be way out of poverty, not just $1 above the FPL).   Using SYEP for that is not a good way.

DC gov spending info now online

Citywide and agency YTD spending is now available online!   What had been previously available to agency directors, chiefs of staff and OCA staffers is now available to the public.   This information helps those responsible for operating programs and delivering services stay on top of PS and NPS spending, vacancies, and Local funds spending.

Susie's commentary:   Now, how are providers and advocates going to use this information?   For example, if there are agency vacancies, what are they?   Are they essential to programs, services or populations you care about?   Are you going to look into this issue? Or this example:   We are in August and there is a bunch of money left in the budget, are you going to check into why this is the case?   Because remember, what is left in the budget at the end of the fiscal year falls to the bottom line (with some exceptions).

Again the point:   We have information previously unavailable to the general public -- what are we going to do with it?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Mayor will make a splash May 21

Pool season isn't official until the District's mayor has a press conference.   Mayor Fenty will do the honors on May 21 at a southeast Washington rec facility at 10:30 am.   Details on the mayor's Web site.

Volunteers needed to provide free child care

The DC Childcare Collective is an all-volunteer group which provides free child care to progressive groups working for social justice.   The Collective's incredibly valuable service -- free childcare at social justice meetings and events -- allows parents to organize and advocate for social and political change.   The Collective is focused on serving groups that are primarily led by low-income women of color; groups supported in solidarity Empower DC, Women Empowered Against Violence, UNITE HERE union, The Women’s Collective, The Latino Economic Development Corporation, as well as events coordinated by The DC Rape Crisis Center.

The Collective is holding a Volunteer Orientation on Sunday, June 7 from 1:00 - 5:00 pm.   Volunteers are asked to make a commitment to provide childcare at least six times over the course of 6 months and attend additional trainings that we provide.   The volunteer application and more information is on their site.   The application deadline is June 1.

Ward 7 State of the Ward Address, May 27

The Honorable Yvette M. Alexander (Ward 7) is hosting the
State of the Ward 2009 Address on May 27.   This event, which will feature a comprehensive look at the current state of Ward 7, is being held at 6:30 pm.

Young people rock as advocates!

Watch out adult advocates:   The Foster Care Campaign (FCC) is here and they are a force to be reckoned with!   The youth-led FCC is but one program operated by the Young Women's Project.   The most public Foster Care Campaign work of late relates to the creation of a youth transition center.   The young people involved are calling on the mayor and council to create and fund a center where young people who will age out of foster care can receive the services and supports they need.   Youth aging out too often enter adulthood without regular and consistent adults in their lives.

The Black College Review covered one presentation of the Foster Care Campaign at the City Council's March youth-only hearing.   The FCC youth were back in front of Council Chair Vincent C. Gray earlier this month to reiterate the need for the center.   You can watch both hearings by going to the Office of Cable Television Web site and watching them on demand.

Missed a news report?

Looking for something to watch?   What about news reports on and interviews with the mayor and/or council?   Check out Truveo.

Really, is your Web site generating the donations it should?

A Nielsen Norman Group Report has found that too many nonprofits have Web sites that are not as useful to donors as they could be.   Donation Usability:   Design Guidelines for Improving the Donation Process and the Usability of Essential Information on Charity and Non-Profit Websites identifies problems many organizations have with their public face.   The good news is that the report offers more than 50 recommendations to improving your organization's Web site design.   True, you have to pay to play; the full report costs almost $200.   But TechSoup, which reports on the Nielson Norman Group Report also shares a no-cost recommendation site, Smashing Magazine.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

DCPS/OST community breakfast meeting, 6/12

The DC Alliance of Youth Advocates (DCAYA) is sponsoring another "Breakfast with DCPS" at 10:00 am at Mary's Center.   The event is an opportunity to network and share ideas related to developing an OST system.   You don't have to be a DCAYA member to attend.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Economic downturn increases need for legal services

The DC Access to Justice Commission just released its 2008-2009 annual report.   This four year old organization has done good things since they were created by the Court of Appeals.   As the report points out, accessible legal assistance is more important now than ever before.   The nearly unprecedented 10% unemployment rate has created an
increased need for legal counsel to assist with the consequences of a loss in income, including unemployment benefits, potential loss of housing, other government benefits, and child support.
Other legal issues arising directly out of the economic slowdown are also on the rise.   Tenants are fighting evictions because of foreclosures against landlords; landlords are delaying repairs due to reduced access to credit; and, creditors are increasing collection efforts on consumer debt.   Furthermore, as economic stress increases, domestic violence also increases.

Free training conference June 26

Save the date for the 8th Annual Training Conference "Taking Our Work to the Next Level" on June 26 sponsored by the Columbia Heights/Shaw Family Support Collaborative.   The event is free.   If past experience is any indication, this is a training not to be missed!   And I am a hard one to please when it comes to these things.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Newborn safe haven act hearing - who is testifying?

So who is testifying on B18-180, "Newborn Safe Haven Act of 2009"?   The hearing is being convened by the Committee on Human Services (Wells, chair) on May 28 at 2:00 pm in the JAWB in Room 412.   The bill, co-introduced by CMs Wells and Catania, was co-sponsored by CMs MBrown, Alexander, Mendelson, Bowser, Barry, KBrown, Cheh, Thomas, Evans, and Gray.

You may recall that the emergency version of this bill was introduced by Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells and At-large CM David Catania.   It was passed unanimously in April 7, 2009.

If you are testifying, I would be happy to share your testimony here.

What is summer without the youth curfew discussion?

A recent post on the 3D Substation Yahoo Group has called for a youth curfew. . . What is summer without this debate?!

As many of you know, the District has a curfew law.   As I pointed out in my response to the 3D Substation posting, details about the DC juvenile curfew are on the MPD Web site.   September to June, young people, with exceptions, have to be home by 11:00; the time changes to midnight during the summer months.   The more important part of my response on the 3D Substation list is this:

The curfew hours were changed (restricted) in the summer of 2006 by Mayor Williams when Chief Ramsey declared a crime emergency.   Both sides of the debate came out fighting at that time.   MPD reports that the number of curfew violators increased during the crime emergency; see Impact of the 2006 Crime Emergency in the District of Columbia.   As a long-time observer of MPD, and as someone who has worked with MPD in various capacities in a collegial public-private way, my take on the data differs from that of MPD.   I agree that the number of violators picked up increased during 2006.   But I would argue that the numbers were higher precisely because MPD made curfew violations a priority for officers and not necessarily because there were more violators.
The curfew is only one tool that the community can use to “deal” with young people. I would argue now, as I did for years in my role as a child advocate at a citywide DC child advocacy organization, that it is not the most effective tool to guide people in the right direction.   THAT happens when we (the city, families, nonprofits, etc.) put actions in place directed to changing the trajectory of youth behavior.
Other pertinent information on the curfew is here:

New events added Advocacy in DC - Calendar of Opportunities

Be sure to check out the calendar for events that have just been added.   New listings include Ward 6 community meeting on public safety (May 18), Ward 7 Dems meeting (May 23), and the Ward 7 Nonprofit Expo (June 6).

Friday, May 15, 2009

Youth-only hearing, June 13

The next youth-only hearing convened by the council's Committee of the Whole (COW) will be held on Saturday, June 13, at 10:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber (5th floor).   More information about the hearing from Charmaine Gloude, 724-8080 or cgloude[AT]dccouncil[DOT]us.

A lesson from the DC Campaign. . .

In their most recent edition of "Spreading the Word", the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy thanks the Department of Parks and Recreation for opening rec centers on Sunday.
DC Campaign has long advocated that recreation centers stay open longer hours and be open on the weekends.

Why? Because one of the protective factors that helps prevent teen pregnancy is providing safe places for teens to spend time with their friends with structured and engaging activities and adult supervision.

DC Campaign is delighted that recreation centers are now open on Sundays for teens and the community and look forward to working with the Department of Parks and Recreation to make teen pregnancy a thing of the past!

The public "thank you" is appropriate and strategic.   Rather than always asking for something, the Campaign acknowledges DPR has done something good for young people.

Susie's commentary:   When was the last time you thanked an elected or appointed official for something?

Use of stimulus funds for child care conference call

CLASP and the National Women's Law Center (NWLC) are sponsoring a conference call on May 21:   Economic Recovery Update: How States Can Use Economic Recovery Funds to Help Child Care.   Callers will strategize about how to best utilize the economic recovery funds.   The call will take place at 2:00 pm and registration, while free, is required.   Details about the call are on the CLASP Web site.

VOTE NOW in Apps for Democracy contest

The time has arrived for you to VOTE for an important resource and tool to benefit District residents:   Guide to Public and Private Social Services in DC.   Voting this idea -- in the current Apps for Democracy contest -- into the top 10 will ensure that an application is created by developers at minimal cost to the city.   This is particularly good given the economy.   It is also good given the outdated nature of the once stellar Answers, Please! social service referral system.

Learn more about how to vote in this flier.   And then VOTE!!   And encourage your colleagues to vote!   VOTE NOW -- the deadline is at the end of May.

Roque Gerald confirmation testimony

On May 13, Roque Gerald made his case to the Committee on Human Services (Ward 6 CM Tommy Wells, chair) for his appointment by Mayor Fenty to lead the DC Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA).

As pointed out in the recent oversight and budget hearings, and in advocacy materials by DC Action for Children, for example, CFSA faces a number of challenges today and into the future.   Read Dr. Gerald's testimony and other docs available on this blog to learn more about both what Roque plans to do and what improvements need to be made.

Will Singer to leave DC government

So the news of the day for budget advocates is that Will Singer is leaving the Fenty Administration for law school.   I just spoke with Will and he is looking forward to this new chapter in his life.   Having known Will since he joined the Committee on Human Services under then CM-Fenty, I have watched him learn and grow.   Both personally and professionally, I am incredibly happy for him!   Watch the DC Wire for more on this transition.

Rules published in DCR

Regulations published in the May 15 edition of the DC Register include:

Impact of foreclosures on renters subject of Council roundtable

Joint public oversight roundtable on the “Impact of Foreclosures on Home Ownership and Affordable Housing in the District of Columbia”, May 28, 10:30 am, JAWB, Council Chamber.   This roundtable is convened by the Committee on Public Services and Consumer Affairs (Ward 4 CM Muriel Bowser, chair) and the Committee on Housing and Workforce Development (Ward 8 CM Marion Barry, chair).   Central to this roundtable will be a review of a recent report by Peter Tatian at Urban, commissioned by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, on the impact of foreclosures on renters in DC.   Government officials will outline their response to the current environment.   The public is encouraged to testify; to register and for more information, contact Davida Crockett at 741-0898, dcrockett[AT]dccouncil[DOT]us.

From the 5/15/09 DCR.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

COW public roundtable on new OSSE director

The Committee of the Whole (Gray, chair) is holding a public roundtable on PR 18-203, “State Superintendent of Education Kerri L. Briggs Confirmation Resolution of 2009”, on May 28 at 10:00 am in the JAWB, Room 412.   To testify or for more information, contact Aretha Latta, 724-8196 or alatta[AT]dccouncil[DOT]us.

Major budget request act actions

On May 12, Council Chair Vincent C. Gray began the FY 2010 budget votes with this presentation.   The document features major budget request act actions taken by the various committees of the Council.   Missing from this, unfortunately, is the big ol' picture of Council budget director Eric Goulet.   Too bad, too:   The budget analysis now done by the budget office has improved by leaps and bounds under Eric's leadership.

Events added to calendar!

Events have been added to the Calendar of Opportunities at the bottom of the blog, so check 'em out!

DC leaders testify before House subcommittee on DC budget

Mayor Adrian Fenty, CFO Natwar Gandhi and DCPS Chancellor Michelle Rhee testified before the House Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government Committee on Appropriations today on the District's FY 2010 budget and financial plan.

Chancellor's Community Forum: Special Education, 5/27

The May 27 Chancellor's Community Forum on Special Education is the opportunity to learn about the work DCPS is doing to reform Special Education in DCPS.   The event is being held from 6:30 - 8:00 pm at Eliot-Hine Middle School, 1830 Constitution Ave NE.   More information in the invitation.

Fenty wants anti-crime bill moved as emergency

Today Mayor Fenty announced he is seeking emergency passage of the omnibus anti-crime bill on an emergency basis.   The permanent is B18-0138, "Omnibus Anti-Crime Amendment Act of 2009."   The omnibus contains new provisions that would expand individual prohibitions about carrying a firearm, deter youth gang involvement and make illegal the possession of a gun while in a vehicle.   The mayor believes that these changes are essential to maintain public safety.

The Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary, chaired by At-large CM Phil Mendelson, held a public hearing on the bill on March 18; watch the hearing here on the OCT Web site (the hearing actually starts at minute 6:20).   There were more than 45 witnesses who registered to testify.   CMs Mendelson, Evans and Graham delivered opening remarks (minutes 6:20, 10:30 and 15:10, respectively).

According to CMs Evans and Mendelson, Council Chair Vincent Gray and CMs Mary Cheh, Jack Evans, and Phil Mendelson agreed that the committee would mark-up the bill in June so that there could be two votes by the time the council went out for summer recess in mid-July.   The legislation would become effective some time in the fall, depending on the Congressional calendar.

The committee will hold another hearing on the bill on May 18 at 10:30 in the Council Chamber (Room 500).   This hearing is by invitation only and is designed to delve more deeply into a limited number of issues raised in previous hearings and constituent communications.

Susie's commentary:   Mayor Fenty apparently wants this legislation implemented immediately, presumably in time for summer.

DOH kicks off healthy mom campaign - AF to remark, 5/15

Mayor Fenty remarks on the kickoff of the DOH Healthy DC Mom Public Awareness Campaign, May 15 at 4:00 pm at Chartered Health located at 3924 Minnesota Ave NE.

Food bounty effort starting up - volunteers needed

A group of Glover Park residents is interested in turning food waste (the day's leftovers in restaurants, etc.) to food bounty for those in need.   The initial thinking is to start a neighborhood volunteer corps.   While there is often red tape involved with food donation, these good souls believe it can work particularly in light of the federal Good Samaritan Food Donation Act and similar efforts across the region and country as highlighted by Feeding America (formerly America's Second Harvest).   Those interested in joining in should email Deborah at debsrab[AT]gmail[DOT]com.

Getting More from Tax Incentives, May 19

While this Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center May 19 event focuses on the federal level, there will surely be some good takeaways for DC budget wonks!   This full-day event (9:00 am - 4:30 pm) kicks off with an introductory session on principles that should guide the use of tax incentives for social policy followed by expert views on whether tax incentives should be used to promote social goals in healthcare, retirement saving, and owner-occupied housing.   Jeffrey Liebman, Executive Associate Director, Office of Management and Budget will deliver the luncheon address.   You can participate in person or via computer.   Review the full program agenda here; this site also tells you how to register.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Final CHS budget mark-up report

For those who missed yesterdays vote on the FY 2010 budget request act and the first vote on the FY 2010 budget support act and are interested in human services, here is the final Committee on Human Services report.   It is not yet on the Council's Web site.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Upcoming Council hearings

Now that budget season is all but over, the City Council is getting back to business, holding hearings, performing oversight, and the like.   Some of what we can expect in the future, from the May 8 DCR is:
  • Public hearing on B18-0076, "Public Land Surplus Standards Amendment Act of 2009", May 29, 11:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber.   The hearing is convened by Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh).
  • Public hearing on B18-69, "Anti-Graffiti Act of 2009", May 29, Noon, JAWB Room 412.   The Committee on Public Safety & the Judiciary (At-large CM Phil Mendelson, chair) seeks testimony on the bill reported out of the Committee on Public Works and Transportation (Ward 1 CM Jim Graham, chair).
  • Public oversight roundtable on the Boys and Girls Clubs of Greater Washington and the Omnibus Childcare Background Regulations, May 27, 10:00 am in the JAWB Council Chamber.   The roundtable is sponsored by Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, chair of the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation.

Check out the details about the hearings in the DCR.

Media Competition: Teens to Teens on Nonviolence

Lights! Camera! Action!   Media Competition: Teens to Teens on Nonviolence -- Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) and WPGC are pleased to announce the Teen Public Service Announcement (PSA) Competition:   Teens to Teens on Nonviolence.

Young people ages 14-20 are invited to show off their audio/video skills to encourage other teens to have a safe, non-violent summer, using the “No Time for Crime” theme.   Verse must include at least one of the following messages:   anti-violence; anti-auto theft; crime prevention; teen safety; and/or anti-gang violence.The deadline is Sunday, May 17, 2009.   Details are on the MPD Web site.

Final CC reports online this weekend

If you are a policy wonk or just interested in the DC budget, then your reading this weekend will have to be the final reports of the City Council committees on the mayor's budget.   Right now, the following committees have their finals posted: COW, ec dev, public safety, health, gov ops, public works, public services.

Friday, May 8, 2009

What is $22,570,600?

This is the amount of money the executive and legislative branches are directing to local organizations in one-time grants in FY 2010.   Of this amount, $5.4 million is allocated by Mayor Fenty.   The remaining $17.2 million are City Council earmarks.

Bowser access to space bill

Here is the CM Bowser introduction Board of Enhanced Access to Public Space and Buildings Establishment Act of 2009.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reason being brought to using public space!

CM Muriel Bowser (Ward 4) this week introduced legislation that would require that reason and consistency be brought to bear on fees and the like related to public use of government space.   According to the CM's newsletter, the "Board of Enhanced Access to Public Spaces and Buildings Establishment Act of 2009"
is intended to enhance the communities use of public spaces and buildings, including schools, parks, recreation centers, and libraries, while also standardizing the process for accessing these spaces for games, meetings, and events.   This measure would establish a Board to carry out a best-practices study of surrounding jurisdictions and other municipalities and report to the Council of the District of Columbia its findings.   This report would include recommendations on how the District can improve the use of public spaces for sporting activities by creating a more consistent and transparent system to utilize public space.   The report must be provided to the Council within eighteen months of the creation of the Board.   The Board will expire six months after the report has been submitted to the Council.

The bill was referred to the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (Ward 3 CM Mary Cheh, chair).   CM Harry Thomas Jr. (Ward 5) co-introduced this measure; co-sponsors are CMs Mary Cheh, Kwame Brown, Michael Brown, and Jim Graham.

Susie's commentary:   As many folks know, there is a wide range of fees, applications and application processes being used for public use of, um, public space.   I'm not sure the solution is an 18-month effort, but I am glad someone is paying attention to challenges District residents, providers, businesses, and nonprofits face every day.

Shootings, HIV and perverts

DC Campaign held a Teen Town Hall meeting for a group of girls who’d gotten in trouble with the law. DC Campaign believes that teens are the experts on their own lives, so during every teen town hall meeting, we asked the girls to make a list of their major concerns. The girls were 13, 14, years old, and do you know what they told us were the biggest problems they had? Shooting and killing, HIV, teen pregnancy, perverts, abuse and getting health care.
Can you imagine? All the money we spend in this city and little girls are worried about problems most of us never even heard about until we were fully grown. There’s something wrong with that picture…..and we need to change it.

This is from the DC Campaign's testimony on the FY 2010 budget support act before the Committee of the Whole on April 23, 2009.   Brenda Rhodes Miller, ED of this local nonprofit, implored the Council to fund best practices and evidence-based practices and to ask hard questions of those at the Council looking for money for their program.   She also said this:

If we really care about the young people in this town, we have to hold programs to the highest possible standard. Ask yourselves: Is it is good enough for your children or grandchildren? If it isn’t good enough for your children and it isn’t good enough for my children, then it isn’t good enough for any of the District’s children.

Read this testimony and more from the DC Campaign.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Sign up for DC Auditor emails!

Are you signed up for email notices from the DC Auditor?   If not, you should be.   Past reports have considered topics such as contract compliance, performance of ANCs, and agency accountability.   For those new to DC or this work, the DC Auditor in part assists the "Council of the District of Columbia in performing its oversight responsibilities."   Just go to their Web site to sign up.

Updated report on summer youth employment

DC Auditor amends earlier report on summer youth employment in this May 4 report titled Letter Report: Responses to Specific Questions Regarding the Department of Employment Service's 2008 Summer Youth Employment Program.

Events added to calendar!

Events have been added to the Calendar of Opportunities at the bottom of the blog, so check 'em out!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Foster Care Campaign announcement, May 5

Join Mayor Adrian Fenty and representatives from CFSA at the Child and Family Services Agency Foster Care Campaign Announcement, Tuesday, May 5 at 10:30 am.   The event is being held at the Post Permanency Family Center in the Washington Jesuit Academy Building, 900 Varnum St NE.   More about the Campaign.

4D residents on Twitter

Residents concerned that the Fourth Police District (4D) is not posting crime alerts in a timely manner have responded with Twitter with 4dCrimeAlerts.   Residents and businesses are being encouraged to follow this group and tweet about crime issues.

What's legal and what's not advocacy/lobbying workshop, 5/28

The Nonprofit Advocacy Network to the rescue again!   If you are new to advocacy or just need a refresher, check out this Web workshop on May 28, "Lobbying Rules for Nonprofits."   The session will cover things like the federal tax laws governing 501(c)(3) lobbying and definitions of direct and grassroots lobbying.   More information on the workshop, including how to register, is on the Alliance for Justice Web site.

DC budget reconciliation

At today's council press briefing in advance of the 8th legislative session, Council Chair Vincent Gray told Dorothy Brizill (and others at the briefing) that the council will take the next week to finalize the budget (the first and only vote on the budget request act is May 12; the BSA requires two votes, the first of which will be on May 12) and that as of this morning, a meeting with the mayor to reconcile the budget has not been scheduled.   Mr. Gray does expect the executive branch to weigh in, though.

"Why is this important?" you might ask.   Well for one, the human services committee's decision to unfund the build-out of the Youth Transition Center for CFSA will negatively affect the whole project.   Certain component costs of the Center were to be shared by the initial three government agencies in the Center, DOES, DYRS and CFSA.   We can expect some changes in the project's plans as a result.

Who's got testimony they want to share?

I'm hoping to get some takers on this offer to share your message for free -- I will put a link to your budget testimony here so that more folks are able to read it; if you don't have it posted on your Web site, I will post for you on mine.   So just email me the link along with details (Council committee, government agency, date) or email the details and the document (PDF is best but I will convert it for you if you want).  

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Special ed panel meetings

The State Advisory Panel on Special Education will meet on May 21 and June 18.   More information on the panel here.

BSA requires two votes

Contrary to public opinion, the budget support act does, in fact, require two votes.   The first vote will be on May 12.   The second can be no sooner than May 26.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Highlights from the May 1 DCR

The Special Committee on Statehood and Self-Determination (Michael A. Brown, chair) is holding a public hearing on May 13 at 1:00 pm in Room 412 of the JAWB.   The subject of the hearing is “The History of the District of Columbia and its impact on the Attainment of Voting Rights and Statehood.”   Two hearing will feature short documentaries, DC historians and area public school students.   The witness list is closed but residents are encouraged to submit written statements.   Details here.

The Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation (Harry Thomas, chair) is holding a public oversight roundtable on “2009 Summer Readiness for the Department of Parks and Recreation.”   The roundtable is being held on May 11 at 10:00 am the Council Chamber in the JAWB.   The public is encouraged to testify; those not able to comment publicly may submit a written statement.   Details here.

The City Council is considering a reprogramming request (Reprogramming 18-15) of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) of $6.5 million.   The reprogramming will align PS budget authority and fully fund contracts associated with special education.   Unless a CM files a notice of disapproval, the reprogramming will become effective on the 15th day after the receipt by the council.   The 14 day review began April 23.

The Office of Contracting and Procurement (OCP) has issued final rules in the May 1, 2009 edition of the DC Register about the requirement for local and federal criminal background checks and local a traffic check for private agencies contracting with the DC government which work with children and youth.   The rules are now in effect.   The rules are required by DC Law 15-353, “Child and Youth Safety and Health Omnibus Amendment Act of 2004.”

Friday, May 1, 2009

Follow me on Twitter!

In just a few months I have started blogging and twittering!   If you are here, you obviously know about the blog.   But follow me on Twitter for immediate updates throughout the day!

AJE has three position openings

Hot off the press is this list of three job descriptions for openings at Advocates for Justice and Education.   So check 'em out here.

Committee on Libraries, Parks and Rec mark-up report finished

Check the council Web site a little later this morning for the Committee on Libraries, Parks and Recreation draft mark-up report.   It is finished, just not posted at this time.