Earlier this year, CAADPE was awarded a HEAR US grant as part of the Health Equity in Access to Behavioral Health Recovery Services. The grant involved convening focus groups to highlight priorities for underserved communities across the state, and to give recommendations to the Sierra Health Foundation Center and DHCS on expanding cultural diversity within the administration of SUD programs. The full set of findings and recommendations are included in the project’s final white paper, which is now posted on the Center’s website: recoveryservicesproject.org.
The group of lawmakers sworn into office on December 5th will be the most diverse in state history, with a record number of women and LGBTQ+ members. The policy impact, however, remains to be seen. With eight openly LGBTQ candidates winning, including four new lawmakers, plus four incumbent members, the Legislature is on track to have at least 10% LGBTQ representation for the first time ever, according to Equality California. If that happens, California would be the first state to achieve proportional LGBTQ+ representation in its Legislature. And the number of female lawmakers is headed toward at least 49, a record number of women who will be sworn into the state Assembly and Senate on Dec. 5.
The increase in diversity is partly due to new districts and open seats that created a window of opportunity for new candidates, making this an unusually high turnover year in the Capitol. As of right now, at least 24 new assemblymember and 10 new senators are preparing to take office on Monday, Dec. 5th. More women in the Legislature will help shape policy priorities, which could include reproductive health care, pay equity and family economic issues. More than half of the projected new class will be women of color. One newly-elected member said she plans to use her background as a social worker to try to increase the Medi-Cal reimbursement for mental health services and to address workplace burnout for mental health workers.
CAADPE is working on a legislative strategy and finalizing a policy platform for next year’s session, and has already begun contacting legislators’ offices regarding bill proposals to advance our policy priorities.