Student leaders and The L.A. Trust advocate for school-based health

Mayra Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership, rallied more than 50 school-based health advocates at the CSHA’s first-ever virtual Advocacy Day. 

More than 50 school-based health advocates briefed 42 California lawmakers and their staffs August 5 during the California School-Based Health’s Alliance’s first-ever virtual Advocacy Day. 

Students from several of The L.A. Trust’s Student Advisory Boards joined staff members from The L.A. Trust, CSHA and other organizations at the legislative briefings, which focused on top policy priorities made more urgent by COVID-19. These priorities include healthcare and SBHC funding, student mental health, substance use prevention, and coordination by state departments (Education, Health Care Services and Public Health) to strengthen partnership with School-Based Health Centers. 

Mayra Alvarez, president of The Children’s Partnership, rallied the online advocates. Noting that California is a national leader in health insurance coverage with 97 to 98% of all kids covered, “you all know it’s not enough to be covered.” She saluted those working on the frontlines of student health and said, “we have shared goals and a shared partnership.” 

A time of reckoning 

Alvarez tied the issue of health equity to the larger issue of race. “This is a reckoning — a racial reckoning,” she said. “It is truly wiser when we listen to those marching in the streets. Going back is accepting the status quo — we can pave a better path forward for California and the nation.” 

Maryjane Puffer, executive director of The L.A. Trust, stressed the importance of school-based health and thanked all the attendees for speaking out. Puffer and six other staff members from The L.A. Trust participated in the legislative briefings. 

Lisa Eisenberg, policy director for CSHA, noted that one-third of all California legislators were reached — five lawmakers attended in person. 

“While we really wanted to host in-person advocacy visits earlier this year, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented those plans,” CSHA said. “As this pandemic has disproportionately impacted people served by school-based health centers, it’s more important than ever to share challenges and experiences with policymakers as schools grapple with a changing environment.”  

There are 277 school-based health centers in California, and 274,000 California students have access to high-quality healthcare through these clinics. There are 75 school-based health centers in Los Angeles County, including 16 LAUSD Wellness Centers supported by The L.A. Trust. 

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