Friday, October 30, 2009

New OCA staffer

Welcome Moritz Plischke to the Office of the City Administrator.   He is the new analyst assigned to the Department of Housing and Community Development, Housing Production Trust Fund, and the Office of the Tenant Advocate.   Moritz can be reached via email at moritz [DOT] plischke [AT] dc [DOT] gov.

CM Thomas presser on DPR problems

CM Thomas will hold a press conference on October 30 at 10:00 am on the front steps of the JAWB to highlight alleged retaliation against some employees of Department of Parks and Recreation, actions which may violate DC's whistleblower protection law.   The CM will also discuss what he considers to be "continued mismanagement."   Mr. Thomas intends to hold a hearing on these issues; he will announce the date at the press conference.

Council Chair set tone for DCPS RIF hearing

City Council Chair Vincent C. Gray had a whole lot to say to government officials at the council's October 29 public hearing on the DCPS RIFs.   Mr. Gray's opening statement set the tone for much of the day.

Chairman Gray characterized the explanations from the executive branch about the budget gap as multiple, inconsistent and misleading.   Mr. Gray's frustration came through loud and clear:

Frankly, I would prefer to be here today engaging in an open, inclusive dialogue around how we as a city can come together to support our city’s children through increasing early childhood educational opportunities or providing teachers and local schools the support they need to succeed.
Instead, this committee has been forced to conduct oversight on a budget gap that remains a puzzle; investigate why teachers were escorted out of schools by security, why LSRTs (local school restructuring team) were shut out of their local school decision-making process, and why our students have had to witness resulting chaos.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Mayor Fenty on the Census, October 29

Mayor Fenty will make remarks at the October 29 DC Counts 2010 Census Campaign announcement.   Learn more at 11:30 am at the Congress Heights Senior Wellness Center (3500 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave SE).   For some basic information about the 2010 Census in DC, check out DC Counts Web page.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hats off to LLD

My hat is off to WCP's Loose Lips -- Loose Lips Daily just celebrated its one year anniversary.

What?   You did not just ask what Loose Lips Daily is, did you?   For the record, LLD is an awesome resource for those too busy (or lazy) to read the gazillion blogs, Web sites, and newspapers and watch/listen to the gazillion+ radio and television stations.   Subscribe today - you won't regret it!

Annual Feast of Sharing, November 25

Again this year, Salvation Army and Safeway are offering a free traditional Thanksgiving feast with all the trimmings.   The feast will take place at the Washington Convention Center on November 25 from 9:30 am – 2:30 pm.   In addition to the awesome spread, attendees will be able to get information from community and government service organizations and have a health screening or two.   To learn more about transportation to and from the feast and other event features, read the event flier.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mayor Fenty on Northwest One, 10/27

Mayor Fenty will give remarks on Tuesday, October 27 at 10:45 am related to the Northwest One development agreement announcement.   Check out the news at North Capitol and M Sts NE.

Northwest One was the District's first New Community project, a major investment in physical and human capital to rehabilitate Sursum Corda.   More information about Northwest One is online here.

Tune in to WPFW October 27 at 11 am for DC Politics with Jonetta

The October 27 DC Politics with Jonetta (11:00 am on WPFW 89.3FM) will feature a discussion of the battle between Mayor Adrian Fenty and first term CM Harry Thomas Jr. (Ward 5).   CM Thomas has gone toe-to-toe with the mayor on the management of the Department of Parks and Recreation and the termination of employees, led the reject Mayor Fenty nominee Ximena Hartsock onslaught, and is now -- with two City Council colleagues -- taking the city to task for issuing millions of dollars in construction contracts illegally.   Tune in for this and more, including the views and questions of resident political analyst Eugene Dewitt Kinlow.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Eat pizza+ and support CFSA

When you order pizza -- or for that matter anything else -- from the Connecticut Ave NW California Pizza Kitchen on November 10 and show this flier (yes, you must show the flier), 20% of the check will be donated to the Child and Family Services Agency.   So use CPK's catering service for your meeting on November 10.   Or just stop by for lunch or dinner to support a terrific cause -- abused and neglected children and youth in DC.   And to make things even easier, you can order online!   So make a date at the Connecticut Ave NW California Pizza Kitchen and support foster kids.

DCPS interested in engaging parents, community in local schools

DC Public Schools is asking parents (and community members, etc.) to take a short survey on their knowledge of and participation in official school advisory boards such as LSRTs.   It is important to note that while the survey asks for name and email, this information is not required.   The responses will help DCPS develop ways that ensure community and parent involvement and engagement.

Chancellor's Community Forum on the indisputable importance of early learning

90% of Brain Development Occurs by the Age of Five is the title of the latest Chancellor's Community Forum that will be held on October 28 in the evening.   (More information here)

This forum will present information about the DCPS Early Childhood Education Program and provides an opportunity for attendees to ask questions.   Brain development is the key to the future for individuals, families, and communities as was stated in a 2004 report:

Universal school readiness is the foundation for high educational achievement and civic engagement in the District of Columbia.   A comprehensive system to deliver school readiness is an investment in the quality of life for young children in our city, today and their role as civic leaders in the future.   (Road Map to Universal School Readiness in the District of Columbia)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Gang shootings are driving violence numbers

One theme of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier’s discussion with Bruce DePuyt on the October 22 edition of NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt was that gang violence is continuing while other kinds of crime and violence is decreasing.   If the city could get a handle on this bad activity, we could get below 100 homicides a year.   Chief Lanier attributed virtually all of the shootings and other violence of late to gangs.   We know from those who work on the streets that beefs that may have once simmered are now erupting with shootings and retaliations.

The chief's solution to the problem of gang violence is for witnesses to call and report what they know, confidentially of course.   Asked about community organization involvement with gangs (gang intervention), the chief replied that numerous organizations are working on the crew and gang issue and that all others have to do is just get involved. (minutes 7:45-9:30)

Susie's comments:   Getting involved is not easy as the chief may have suggested, though I don’t blame the chief for not knowing this.   The fact is that successful and effective gang intervention requires training, skill and resources.   It also requires strong connections to others – both government and community resources.   Finally, effective gang interventions are grounded in research and theory.   Researchers, for example, have found that some interventions actually strengthen gang bonds.   This is important to know.

We also know from experience that wanting to help is not enough.   So all due respect to Chief Lanier, not everyone interested is equipped to do the work.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

CFSA initiatives recognized by Mayor

On October 20, Mayor Fenty, Attorney General Peter Nickles and CFSA director Roque Gerald announced significant improvements in CFSA practices for children and youth.

Areas highlighted in the press event were:

  • Maintaining safety reforms – CFSA is routinely achieving timely investigation goals; timeliness happens more than 90 percent of the time.
  • Ensuring permanent homes – One innovative strategy to achieve permanency for kids is the "high impact team" comprised of CFSA and Adoptions Together staff.   The team focuses on speeding up adoption.
  • Improving child and youth well being – CFSA has a number of new initiatives including an in-house medical clinic and education assessments using a new process and tools.

CFSA is still not out of the woods with the LaShawn case.   Time will tell how these and other innovations and improved practices will result in better outcomes for children and youth and how these outcomes in turn can help get CFSA out from under court oversight.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CYITC seeks Research and Evaluation Manager

DC Children and Youth Investment Trust Corp. is looking to fill the position of Research and Evaluation Manager.   This manager will be responsible for conducting and overseeing all research and evaluation activities with the Trust, leading the organization’s efforts in developing a performance based evaluation model and reporting outcome-based findings with various stakeholders.

Comments on APRA still being accepted

Even though the Committee on Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) cancelled (due to a scheduling conflict) the October 15 public roundtable on APRA, the committee is accepting written statements through Wednesday, October 21 at 5:30 pm.   Send to Jen Barry, Committee on Health, 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Suite 115, WDC 20004.   Or email to jbarry [AT] dccouncil [DOT] us.

This is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week

The week of October 18-23 is Adult Education and Family Literacy Week thanks to a recent resolution of the U.S. House of Representatives.

What this means for the District of Columbia is that the Adult Literacy Resource Center at DC Public Library’s main library (Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St NW) and DC LEARNs are collaborating to recognize the many achievements of adult learners and the connections between adult literacy and other issues, such as public health, housing, and safety.

But wait, there’s more:   DC’s activities feature a book giveaway contest featuring books by and about adult learners such as Life is Not a Fairytale by Fantasia Barrino and The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read by John Corcoran.   The new DC LEARNs DC adult literacy blog will operate the contest.   The giveaways start October 20th.   To find out which book will be given away when, fan DC adult literacy to be updated.

Book to be given away on October 20:   Fantasia's Life is Not a Fairytale.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Does Kojo's show "Teenage Crime and Pop Culture" miss the mark?

No offense to Kojo Nnamdi, but the last thing we need injected into this very real discussion about youth and gang/crew behavior, crime and violence is a program on the intersection of pop culture and crime.   Kojo's guests DYRS director Vinny Schiraldi and author George Pelicanos are slated to address the "constant stream of newspaper stories about youth violence and movies about street gangs" and the question "Are young people today more violent than they were 30 years ago?"   (Tune in to WAMU 88.5FM on October 19 at 12:06 pm.)

There is plenty of research on gangs and crews, how certain approaches solidify the bonds while others can weaken them.   Irving Spergel, Cheryl L. Maxon, and Malcom W. Klein have literally written the book (actually many books and articiles) on gangs and crews going back years.   One of the take-aways from their work is that there are significant differences between youth delinquency and crime and gang/crew violence and crime.

Is there misinformation out there about juvenile's bad and illegal behavior?   Yes, of course there is.   And Vinny Schiraldi can talk about that.   But if we are seriously interested in stopping the terror wrought by gangs and crews, let's sit down with what we know about their behavior (here in DC and the researched behavior of the above-mentioned experts) and hammer out an intentional, well resourced and sustained approach to shutting them down.

Residents want nothing less than an appropriate response.   An example is this comment from a Ward 1 resident to the recent post on this blog, Any solutions to gang/crew violence out there?:

I thought your comments on the slipshod approach to Gang Warfare that Fenty (and every other administration for thirty years) has taken really hit the mark.   I live near the Columbia Village morass, so the reality of beefs entering my home turf is never far away.   And Halloween is the time I try to stay inside or come back the next day.

So this resident, who has the resources to leave his home during what is supposed to be a fun holiday, has to leave his home because of the expected gang/crew activity.   What about those who don't have resources?   And why do law abiding residents have to leave their home at all?   So while I am glad that Kojo is doing a show on youth violence, I have to ask if there is not a better, more appropriate discussion to have?   And beyond this WAMU program, who else is going to lead on solving this problem?

Memorial service for Desi Deschaine

Ward 2 CM Jack Evans has announced that the memorial service for Desi Deschaine will be held on November 21 at 1:00 pm at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, 619 10th St NW.   You may remember that Desi died tragically this summer.   More information is available from Jeff Coudriet at jcoudriet [AT] dccouncil [DOT] us or Lee Brian Reba at lbreba [AT] dccouncil [DOT] us.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

October 20 COW meeting

The next Committee of the Whole meeting is October 20 at 10:00 am in the Council Chamber.   The draft agenda for the meeting is here.   Remember if you can't attend the meeting, you can watch it on Channel 13 or on the computer from the OCT or DC Council Web sites.

More hearings by the City Council

Recently announced are these hearings:
  • Public oversight roundtable on "Managing the H1N1 Virus in the District of Columbia", October 28:   The Committee in Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) is holding this roundtable at 2:00 pm in the Council Chamber.   The purpose of this roundtable is to hear a presentation by the Department of Health about its plan for managing the H1N1 virus in the District of Columbia.   This roundtable will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements. Details about submitting statements for the record are in the hearing notice.
  • Public hearing on Bill 18-324, Advisory Neighborhood Commission Vacancy Amendment Act of 2009":   The Committee on Aging and Community Affairs (CM Alexander, Ward 7, chair) will hold this hearing on November 5 at 6:00 pm in Room 412 of the JAWB.   The purpose of the bill to simplify the process of replacing advisory neighborhood commissioners when there is only one person qualified to fill a vacancy and to clarify who receives a Commissioner's letter of resignation.   Details about testifying are in the hearing notice.

New events posted to the calendar

More events have been added to the Advocacy Calendar at the bottom of the blog.   Be sure to check it out.   And if you have trainings or other events you would like included, just send me an email, secambria [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Kid-safe Halloween events galore

Again this year, each Metropolitan Police Department district is hosting at least one event for children and/or youth:

Other events include:

Most important of all are these safety tips for children.

Any solutions to gang/crew violence out there?

The first two minutes of NBC4's October 15 Connecting with the Mayor segment concerned neighborhood violence, in particular the Clay Terrace shootings.   Barbara Harrison posed these questions to the mayor, "These are teenagers, can’t something be done about it?" and "What are you going to do about it?"   This last question mirrored a Clay Terrace resident who asked, "What is the city gonna do about it?"

Mayor Fenty responded by saying that these are complex, deep-rooted issues that the police and social service agencies will have to deal with.   And while the long-view is absolutely necessary as Mayor Fenty pointed out when he said the city was working to improve education, the fact is that too few DC government agencies and nonprofits 1) know what to do to intervene in these beefs and 2) have demonstrated experience doing the hard work of gang/crew intervention.   Let's not forget the Chief Lanier and other high ranking officials in MPD have said that they cannot arrest their way out of gang and crew activity and violence.

And in this economic environment, there is little funding dedicated to intervention.   Perhaps the government can cobble together funding but this approach is not possible in the private sector.   Worse, some would argue that having to cobble together funding just goes to show how little we value these individuals and communities.   We don't, for example, do tax credits on a hit or miss basis, implemented now but not later, cut when revenues dry up.   So what is it about this issue that makes this approach acceptable?

Finally, what role do we expect individuals and families to play with violence, drug dealing, criminal behavior, and the like?   And why is the government on the hook for solving this?

If you are interested in following up on this issue with the mayor next week, send an email to Fenty [AT] nbcwashington [DOT] com.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

BSA fiscal impact statement now online

The Office of the Chief Financial Officer has posted the fiscal impact statement for B18-443, "Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Support Second Emergency Act of 2009".   The FIS includes background information and details about the impact of important child- and youth-related actions such as making the grandparent subsidy permanent and renaming the ICSIC and amending its mission.   (And a big shout out to T.J. Sutcliffe for pointing out that the FIS was posted.)

Interim report on children and disasters published

The National Committee on Children and Disasters has issued the much anticipated Interim Report.   The report identifies shortcomings in disaster preparedness and response and recovery.   It also makes recommendations to prioritize children.   While prepared by a national committee, the report can inform DC's approach to addressing the special needs of children before and after crises occur.

For a local spin on children and disasters, read this October 13 post.

Recent reports from the DC Auditor

Some recent reports from the DC Auditor include:

You can sign up to receive email notices of report publications by going to the DC Auditor's Press Room.

"The Great Harvest" party for DCFoodForAll.org

DC Food For All presents "The Great Harvest", a launch party for DCFoodForAll.org on October 24 from 5:00 - 9:00 pm.   The party is being held at Big Bear Cafe (1st and R Sts NW).   There is a suggested donation of $15; the proceeds will go to support the DC Food Finder (www.dcfoodfinder.org), an interactive map of food resources in DC.   The event features lots of food, drink and music and a few speakers.   RSVP to dcfoodforall [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

October 26 forum on DC managed care

The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF) is hosting a forum on managed care on October 26 from 3:00 - 5:00 pm.   The purpose of the forum is for Medicaid and Alliance clients to get questions answered; for beneficiaries, providers, and advocates to share challenges, concerns and recommendations; and for DHCF to discuss developments in managed care.   More information including location online.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mayor Fenty's sked, October 15

On the mayor's October 15 schedule as of right now: 6:45 am - Connecting with the Mayor, News 4; 7:10 am - Fenty on Fox; 10:30 am - Remarks at National Assessment of Educational Progress Announcement (M.C. Terrell Elementary School, 3301 Wheeler Rd SE).   Since the schedule is subject to change, confirm online.

More "must reads"

Two regular readers (who shall remain nameless because I didn't get their permission to name them) responded to my inquiry about "must reads" in addition to those already shared here:

Ward 5 crime meeting 10/15

ANC 5C has called a meeting to discuss the recent increase in violence in Ward 5.   This Community Crime Initiative meeting will be held October 15 at 6:30 pm at Mount Sinai Baptist Church (3rd and Q Sts NW).   The focus of the meeting is a discussion with law enforcement agencies plans for managing the recent rise in shootings and other crimes in the community.   More information is online at www.anc5c.org .

Home visiting, child maltreatment prevention and Brookings

If you missed the October 1 Brookings/Princeton event on the value of home visitation programs as one way to prevent child maltreatment, all is not lost.   Brookings has posted the audio and transcript from the event.   So go online to learn more about what the Obama administration plans for home visiting; you will hear from Representative McDermott and former Representative Nancy Johnson.

DC's new chief technology officer

Mayor Fenty recently announced the appointment of Bryan Sivak as Chief Technology Officer for the District of Columbia.   Presumably his email is bryan [DOT] sivak [AT] dc [DOT] gov.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Disaster preparedness for children

The District of Columbia requires that child care programs have written plans to be implemented in an emergency or less dire situations.   This is a good first step.   But it is in no way sufficient.

I have long believed that we should rely on people with expertise to help those without it.   In this case, that means that the District's emergency management agency should proscribe a framework for disaster plans to be developed by early learning facilities.   These plans should be linked to the District Response Plan.

Why this concern now?   The National Commission on Children and Disasters is about to release their interim report to President Obama this week.   The purpose of the commission is to focus attention on children precisely because "Children comprise about 25 percent of our population and have unique needs during a disaster that require specific recognition and coordination on the part of federal, state, Tribal and local governments and their non-governmental disaster-relief partners."   More simply put by Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator, "children are not small adults" and thus emergency disaster planning must consider the needs of children at all stages of planning, not as an add-on issue.

In anticipation of the report release, I encourage policy makers, providers and advocates to watch the hour-long National Press Club Luncheon with Mark Shriver and Craig Fugate.   Folks should also take a look at the Save the Children document THE DISASTER DECADE:   Lessons Unlearned for the United States which points out that DC has only one of the four necessary child protection during disaster components and that is an evacuation plan.   DC does not have plans for reunification efforts, plans for children with special needs in child care (although this presumably is covered under the child care regs mentioned above), and K-12 written procedure for disaster planning.

Council hearing on SLED

The City Council's Committee of the Whole (Council Chair Gray, At-large, chair) is having a public oversight roundtable on "The Statewide Longitudinal Education Data Warehouse System" on October 23 at 2:00 pm in the Council Chamber, JAWB.   The hearing will focus on problems associated with the development of the data system.   Details are in the hearing notice.

Emergency/proposed rules re: child care

The Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) has issued emergency and proposed rules in the October 9 edition of the DCR on parent fees for child care.   These rules, effective October 1, 2009, amend one section of DCMR Title 29, "Schedule of Parent Fees for the District of Columbia Government Subsidized Child Care Services in Child Development Facilities, Child Development Homes, and by Relatives and In-Home Caregivers."   This change updates the child care subsidy program sliding fee schedule for parent co-payments.   The sliding fee schedule is based on the "2009 Federal Poverty Guidelines for the 48 Contiguous States and the District of Columbia."   According to the notice, "There is an immediate need to preserve the public welfare by updating these fees and increasing the rate of payment to eligible recipients."   The Superintendent will take final rulemaking action to adopt these rules not less than thirty (30) days from the date of publication of the notice.

The emergency and proposed rules are online.

Details about comment procedures are found in the rules.

Even more from Jacks-Fogle hearing

Three more items from the October 8 Jacks-Fogle legislation public hearing:
  • Summary of the hearing from the Committee on Health:   On Thursday, the Committee on Health held its joint committee meeting with Councilmember Tommy Wells’s Committee on Human Services on B18-356, the Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009.   The Committees heard from a variety of community advocates that expressed support for better coordination among District agencies but are also concerned about privacy issues that may emerge as a result of this coordination.   Witnesses also included representatives from national organizations and other states that have begun implementation of similar legislation, as well as Clarence Carter, Director of the Department of Human Services.   As stated during the hearing, Councilmember Catania is committed to the intent behind the bill but recognizes that there are significant issues that must still be addressed before moving the legislation through the Committee process.   The Committee on Health looks forward to working collaboratively with the Executive and members of the community to determine how best to develop a coordinated response to individuals and families in crisis.
  • Witness list
  • Testimony from the American Public Human Services Association (Part I and Part II)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Findings of Youth Sexual Health Project 10/21

The Committee on Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) has just announced a public oversight roundtable on Presentation of Findings of the Youth Sexual Health Project.   The roundtable is being held on October 21 at 11:00 am in the Council Chamber of the JAWB.

The purpose of this roundtable is to hear a presentation about the Youth Sexual Health Project and its resulting report, A Youth-Inspired Sexual Health Framework.   (Check out the preliminary findings.)   The Youth Sexual Health Project is a result of a partnership between Chairman Vincent C. Gray and Committee Chair David A. Catania to produce a framework for youth sexual health education and promotion in the District of Columbia based on guidance from the District youth themselves.   This hearing will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements.

Public hearing on lead poisoning prevention legislation

The Committee on Government Operations and the Environment (CM Cheh, Ward 3, chair) is holding a public hearing on B18-64, "Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Amendment Act of 2009", on October 21 at 10:00 am in Room 412 of the JAWB.   Details about testifying are in the hearing notice.

The purpose of the bill is to "amend the Lead Hazard Prevention and Elimination Act of 2008 to create new definitions; to expand protections to pregnant women and children under 6 years of age; to correct technical errors; and to create a private right of action."   The bill was introduced in January 2009 by CMs Cheh and Wells (Ward 6) and co-sponsored by CMs M Brown (At-large), Barry (Ward 8), Alexander (Ward 7), and Gray (At-large).

Roundtable on APRA October 15

The Committee on Health (CM Catania, At-large, chair) is holding a public oversight roundtable on the Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration (APRA) in the Department of Health on October 15 at 10:00 am in the JAWB's Council Chamber.

The purpose of this roundtable is to hear an update on services administered by APRA.   This roundtable will be open to the public; however, only invited witnesses will be permitted to provide oral statements.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Updated: City Council hearings on schools' RIFs

DC City Council chair Vince Gray is holding a series of hearings on the latest on schools and RIFs.   The October 10 youth-only hearing will focus on schools.   The hearing open for all to comment will be held October 16 at 10:00 am; at this time, witnesses may comment on the RIFs and the larger issue of the school equalization process through which funding and resources are aligned with actual student enrollment.   An October 29, 10:00 am hearing has been called to hear from DCPS Chancellor Rhee and Mayor Fenty.   Details as they become available.

More on Jacks/Fogle legislation

On October 8, the Committee on Health (Catania, chair) and Committee on Human Services (Wells, chair) held a hearing on B18-356, “Jacks-Fogle Family Preservation Case Coordination Authorization Act of 2009".   If you missed the hearing, you can read the testimony of DHS director Clarence Carter.   Also take a look at depictions of the current situation and the proposed scenario.   Finally, watch the hearing on demand on Channel 13.

At-large CM Michael Brown had this to say in his opening remarks:

Thank you Chairman Catania and Chairman Wells.   The concerns raised by the Jacks-Fogle tragedy highlight the need to strengthen and tighten our safety net to ensure that innocent children don’t slip through the holes.   However, it is also important to remember that the majority of factors that led to this tragedy were based on the fact that agency staff were not doing their jobs correctly and already established protocols were not followed.   Therefore, while I will always support efforts to increase and improve interagency communication and coordination, I think we also must not forget that improving the basics such as training, supervision, and accountability would have prevented the Jacks-Fogle tragedy.

That being said, there are many parts of the bill before us today that I support, but there are also many parts where the lack of specifics concern me.   Furthermore, finding the balance between effective and appropriate information sharing, and the right to privacy is a question that we must further explore before coming to a final decision.

The issues presented by this case and this bill are complex and I look forward to a robust discussion and an inclusive legislative process that will produce the most informed and responsible policy.   I want to thank everyone for coming out and ask that we all address this legislation and this issue with an open mind and work together to protect our city’s families that are in crisis.

The Committee on Health, the lead on the hearing, is accepting public comment through October 22.   Details about submitting statements are in the hearing notice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Another tool for advocates and activists

Thanks go out to SOME's Joni Podschun for sharing the Activist Events Web site, a site which has links to numerous calendars including SALSA, DC Learns, and DC Indymedia.

Ooh, it's getting chilly out there!

Just in the nick of time is CFSA's winter coat drive for children and youth in foster care.   Coats for Kids 2009! is collecting coats between October 15 and 30.   So clean your kids' gently used coats or go buy new.   These kids are our kids so let's keep them warm.

Will school uniforms be required?

B18-459, "Public Schools Uniform Act of 2009", was introduced on September 22 by CMs Barry (Ward 8), Alexander (Ward 7), K Brown (At-large), Bowser (Ward 4), M Brown (At-large), and Thomas (Ward 5) and was referred to the Committee of the Whole (Gray, chair).   The purpose of this bill is to mandate the wearing of school uniform in all public and public charter schools in DC.   This legislation changes the recently finalized school uniform/dress code rules promulgated by the Chancellor of DC Public Schools (See page 6370).   As introduced, the legislation would require uniforms for the school year starting in 2010.   The hearing has not yet been scheduled.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two open government events

CM Mary Cheh, Ward 3 representative and chair of the Committee on Government Operations and the Environment, has scheduled a public oversight roundtable on "Improving Transparency:   Open Government in the District", for October 14 at 10:00 am.   The roundtable will be held in the Council Chamber in the JAWB.   The committee is interested in hearing from the public ideas and suggestions on how to make government information more accessible to the public.   Specific topics for testimony are included in the notice.

The DC Open Government Coalition is having its first public event, a panel discussion and public forum, Transparency in the District of Columbia - Accessing Government Information and Meetings in D.C.:   What's at Stake, and Where Do We Go From Here?   The free forum is the evening of October 21.

Any new "must reads"?

So it's been a while since I asked what blogs/lists/Web sites you read every day that you think are must reads for any effective advocate, activist, or policy wonk.   Must reads previously identified here are themail, Greater Greater Washington, Loose Lips Daily, DCist, D.C. Wire, DC City Desk Online, ProRev (Progressive Review).

Are there any more sources you rely on everyday?   Let me know and I will post so others can also be in the know!

Look at this data!

I think I am pretty good at finding data and better than good at getting other kinds of information.   But I completely missed these Childcare Profiles 2009 by Ward and the DC Public Charter School Board's Data Center where you can find enrollment and demographics, school finance and facilities, and school performance.

Do you have data sources to share?   Email me and I will post them.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Rally for Change, rally for kids

Join others interested in putting and end to child abuse and neglect deaths in this country on October 21 for the Rally for Change.   The rally starts at 11:00 am on Capitol Hill.   Every Child Matters and co-sponsors including the National Children’s Alliance, American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, and National Association of Social Workers will release a report showing that federal resources are completely inadequate to protect children.   Speakers will include Representative Patrick Kennedy, Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, and cast members of Law and Order SVU.   Check out the event flier for more info and read the Examiner column on the soon-to-be-released report and rally.

See you at the rally.

Support Street Sense at "Bidding for Change"

Join the celebration of Street Sense on October 8 at their Fourth Annual Silent Auction to support awareness and poverty in DC.   Bidding for Change will feature more than 50 items donated by members of the local business community and individuals.   All proceeds benefit Street Sense and, by extension, its network of homeless writers and vendors.   Click here for event details including what is being auctioned!

Awesome additions to Advocacy Calendar

Scroll down and check out the advocacy and learning opportunities recently added to the calendar.

FY 2010 performance plans

The Office of the City Administrator has posted FY 2010 performance plans for all DC government agencies.   Check them out and you will learn:
  • Department of Disability Services:   Build partnerships to increase the number of youth with disabilities in summer and year round employment
  • DC Public Library:   Increase library resources for children and their parents, teachers, and caregivers to support literacy. Provide staff, books and library materials that focus on pre-school and elementary school age children.
  • Department of Health:   By September 2010 complete implementation of the DOH components of the Child Health Action Plan which targets the reduction of infant mortality and morbidity in the District of Columbia.

This information is quite useful.   You can ask how the goals will be met if certain public policies/laws are changed, use them during the oversight hearings in February and March next year, and assess agency practice against the goals.

Fab new tool for searching DCMR and DCR!!

Hold on lawyers, advocates, and policy wonks:   the DCMR has been recodified, digitized, and all promulgated rules incorporated since each title's most recent publication date.   Half of the 31 titles had not been updated within the last 10 years, but all are now current.   And, you can search the DC Register and browse prior editions easily too.

Seriously folks, the Web site and changes rock!   Features of the new site, http://www.dcregs.org/ include:   email notifications of updates, a list of ways to participate in the rulemaking process, a search capability, and a tally of recent rulemaking activity by type.   More information is available online.

The Office of Documents and Administrative Issuances (ODAI) is responsible for this terrific new tool.

Mayor Fenty on the move October 6

Mayor Fenty has two important people-focused stops on his schedule for October 6:
  • Remarks at the Disability Awareness Conference, 9:30 am (Kennedy Recreation Center, 1401 Seventh St NW)
  • Remarks, Pre-Kindergarten Accomplishments Announcement, 10:30 am (Beers Elementary School, 3600 Alabama Ave SE)

Ward 5 Health Care Consortium

Ward 5 CM Harry Thomas, Jr. is launching the Ward 5 Health Care Consortium on October 7 from 10 am - Noon at the 5D police station (1805 Bladensburg Rd NE).   The CM hopes that the consortium can inform, prevent, and cure what ails Ward 5 residents.   Questions and RSVPs to Ayawna Chase, (202)724-8028.

Another rockin' space at CFSA

The larger CFSA youth Comfort Center is now renovated!   The room is open for youth October 6.   The room is colorful, cheerful, warm, and an inviting…safe place for children.   A Vista Events, an event design and production company in Beltsville, MD, donated their time, creative vision and all of the materials for the room.   The fabulous artwork was done by brilliant artist Terri Boyd.

Stay tuned here.   CFSA is planning an open house and special appreciation reception in the next few weeks.


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Monday, October 5, 2009

Fed $$$ to enroll DC kids in Medicaid

The federal Department of Health and Human Services has announced the award of $984,144 to the National Alliance for Hispanic Health to find and enroll DC children and youth who are uninsured but eligible for either Medicaid or CHIP.   The feds awarded $40 million to the states and DC as part of a national effort to improve health outcomes for young Americans.

This funding follows a few years' breather of non-local funding to increase Medicaid and CHIP enrollment.   The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Covering Kids (CK) and Covering Kids & Families (CKF) were national programs to help states increase the number of eligible children and later families in public health insurance programs following the creation of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).   The core components of Covering Kids and CKF were outreach, simplification and coordination.   DC Action for Children was the DC grantee.

CK and CKF had many successes including working with IMA to shorten the Medicaid application, train front-line workers of all kinds to help residents fill out their application, integrate health insurance questions into the intake process of nonprofits across the city, raise awareness of the importance of health insurance, and most important of all, enroll thousands of children and their family members in a health insurance program.

If this new project is only half as successful as CK/CKF, children will truly be the winners.

Council hearing on DCPS RIFs and school budget

City Council Chair Vince Gray has announced that the Committee of the Whole will hold a public oversight hearing in October on the District of Columbia Public Schools Annual Equalization Process and the reduction-in-force (RIF) that is underway.   Equalization aligns resources and funding with actual student enrollment.   (More on the equalization process here on the DCPS Web site.   Also check out the DCPS Budget Fact Sheet prepared by the City Council.)

An October 2 DCPS press release, "Schools Across the District Finalize Budget Adjustments", presented a brief summary of the budget shortfall and school-level budget adjustments.   Additional information was attached to the release:

  • October 2, 2009:   Letter to Staff from Chancellor Michelle Rhee
  • October 2, 2009:   Letter to Parents from Chancellor Michelle Rhee
  • Frequently Asked Questions and Additional Information for Separated Employees


You would have to be living under a rock to not know that there is significant disagreement between the legislative and executive branches on the equalization process and the DCPS FY 2010 budget.   Council Chair Vince Gray appeared on the Kojo Nnamdi show on October 2.   If you missed the show, you can watch the "Vincent Gray (D) on School Reform and Teacher Firings- Part 2" segment on YouTube or listen to it here.   Kojo and Mike DeBonis, sitting in Tom Sherwood's chair (only Mike was sitting in the chair, not Mike and Kojo), framed the conversation with Mr. Gray this way:   "Is the D.C. Council micromanaging the school reform process?   D.C. Council Chair Vincent Gray (D) discusses the Councils relationship with Mayor Adrian Fenty (D) and D.C. Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee."

Expect the debate to heat up on Monday, October 5 when Randi Weingarten, American Federation of Teachers president, joins Kojo Nnamdi at Noon.   You can listen to the program via the WAMU Web site, or The Kojo Nnamdi Show Web site or on the radio, 88.5 FM.

Healthy Affordable Food For All Forum

This free forum -- sponsored by SHARE Food Network, Capital Area Food Bank, DC Hunger Solutions, and HAFA -- is being held October 8, 9:30 am - Noon at Catholic Charities (801 East Shelter, 2700 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE).   Attendees will learn 1) how changes in the District's SNAP (food stamp) program can benefit DC residents, your program's clients and participants; 2) how to use D.C. Food Finder, interactive online map of food resources in the District; and 3) about Healthy Affordable Food for All Coalition (HAFA) and discuss initiatives to improve access to healthy food in low-income communities.   Light refreshments provided.   More information from Chris Byrd, (301) 864-3115 ext. 19 or chris [DOT] byrd [AT] catholiccharitiesdc [DOT] org.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Doing Good: A Vista Revamped CFSA’s Children’s Visitation Room

What talent will get you!   Check out this small waiting room for kids at CFSA that has been artfully redecorated by A Vista Events, an event design and production company in Beltsville, MD.

This summer, A Vista Events transformed one small, dark narrow and mis­matched room into a fun and relaxing ‘beach house’ lounge for youth of all ages.   The team painted the walls, replaced the carpet and installed a wallpaper mural to expand the visual space.   A Vista also refurbished some unused furniture stored in its warehouse to complete the decoration and provide a comfortable place for parents to visit with their children.

This month, A Vista Events will tackle CFSA's large "comfort lounge" primarily used by older children.   For this space, A Vista is painting original art canvases featuring inspirational messages, and then engaging clients to sponsor the artwork with donations of $100.   A Vista has sold ten canvases so far, in addition to raising other donations.   These artful benefactors have also contacted IKEA, Target and Sherwin Williams with requests to donate furniture, paint, toys, and a plasma TV.

But CFSA tells me that more is needed for both rooms.   The smaller room in particular needs books for younger children and Target gift cards will help the decorators and CFSA fully stock both rooms.   If you are interested in helping CFSA with these comfort rooms, contact Beatrice Williar, Program Manager of Partners for Kids in Care, (202) 727-7101, beatrice [DOT] williar [AT] dc [DOT] gov.

Children who are waiting placement in foster care need us.

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Council Chair's pre-leg meeting briefing 10/5

The City Council under the leadership of Chair Vincent C. Gray will hold a press briefing at 9:30 am on October 5 to preview the agenda for the October 6 Legislative Meeting.   Members will also make other announcements relevant to the Council and its work.   Please note earlier start time.   The briefing will be held in Room 412 in the JAWB.   More information from dmccoy [AT] dccouncil [DOT] us.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Be an angel to a child in foster care

Summer has ended and the fall is here and the holidays are right around the corner.   Exciting and fun for most of us but not a sure thing for children and youth who are in foster care.   You can make a huge difference to these kids by becoming a holiday angel.   Last year, community donations for children and families in the child welfare system helped provide:
  • Over 1,200 children with at least three gifts each;
  • More than 3,800 gifts; and
  • More than 300 Thanksgiving turkey baskets.

With your help, Child and Family Services Agency can make the 2009 Holiday Donation Drive even more successful than the 2008 drive.   There are a number of donation opportunities to suit you.

There are other opportunities so check them out here.