(July 12, 2012) -- The Children's Movement of California is giving itself mixed reviews in its campaigns to protect children during the recent budget negotiations.
In a press release issued this week, it gave this assessment:
On the minus side, the final 2012-13 California state budget includes $180 million in cuts that negatively impact children’s early learning opportunities. On the plus side, the group says it could have been much worse because, initially, early learning programs and First 5 were slated to be cut by $450 million, which would have denied access to 80,000 children, including infants, toddlers and preschoolers.
The final budget did not end up shifting responsibility for early learning programs from the Department of Education to the Department of Social Services. Nor did the final budget include the original proposal to eliminate transitional kindergarten.
The Children’s Movement counts itself successful in helping to minimize budget cuts to early learning and block the effort to eliminate transitional kindergarten. The group plans to support restoration of funding for the cuts.
Again in the minus column, the children's activists lament the final budget did include the administration's proposal to eliminate the Healthy Families Program and move the nearly 900,000 children in that program into Medi-Cal. While this move may save the state $13 million this year, TCM says it also jeopardizes almost $200 million in revenue from an industry-supported assessment on managed care health plans. So it is likely to result in a net cost to the state.
On the up side, children covered by Healthy Families will continue to have health coverage, but they will eventually be transitioned into Medi-Cal. Kids will be allowed to stay with their current doctor even if that doctor is not a Medi-Cal provider, and the Department of Health Care Services must provide ongoing reports to the Legislature regarding provider network readiness and adequacy standards before any child changes programs.
The details of the transition plan will come before the Legislature in October.