Update on Texas Legislative Session
Our Role During the 2021 Legislative Session
The Texas legislative session provides an opportunity for us to advance the issues that matter most to the clients and families we serve. As an agency, there are certain priorities that we have been following for years. These areas include funding for early intervention and prevention services, home visitation programs, maternal health, mental health initiatives, and more.
Any Baby Can is actively involved in promoting child and family well-being initiatives in the Texas House of Representatives and Senate. Lawmakers and coalitions often turn to us for idea building, programmatic information and voice, and support through written and verbal testimony. Through our work, we’re able to articulate and amplify our clients’ voices on important issues.
“Nothing about us without us. We must have a seat at the table when decisions are being made that affect our client families,” says Veronda Durden, Any Baby Can’s President and CEO.
This year, one of the highest priorities we engaged in was the push for increased—or at least maintained-—funding for Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) services. Preliminary budgets had shown a lean toward proposed cuts or flat funding. Through our involvement with the ECI Coalition led by Katie Mitten at Texans Care for Children, we determined priorities, developed action plans, and showed support for the critical need of early intervention services. Members of Any Baby Can’s senior staff including Guillermo Lopez, ECI Senior Director, provided additional subject matter expertise; clarification on enrollment, insurance and budgeting data; as well as insight from Guillermo's role on the state-wide ECI Advisory Committee.
Additionally, a key area we supported this year was legislation related to Medicaid for moms and Medicaid eligibility for kids. These bills would extend insurance access for six months following a birth, and make it easier for children to obtain and maintain Medicaid status.
In 2021 we increased our involvement with the Texas Home Visiting Coalition led by Jennifer Lucy, the Managing Director of Policy at TexProtects.
We believe it’s critical to have a role and a voice in collaborative efforts that affect our programs and clients.
Inform and Connect
Since we work directly with families who often access state services and face many of the issues addressed, we're well-positioned to play a variety of roles during a legislative session. Our involvement helps legislators understand the nuances of why certain pieces of funding are important, so they may make more informed decisions on bills and budgets.
“The opportunity to provide feedback during the legislative process is key to ensuring that we have the funding for the programs and services that make Texas a better place for everyone,” adds Veronda Durden.
In all, the 2021 Texas legislative session held state-level funding for ECI, which is a small win. In addition, some restrictions on children’s Medicaid services were eased and Medicaid coverage for postpartum Moms was extended from 2 months to 6 months. We voiced support for many more bills and subject areas that relate to children and families. For a recap of the 2021 Texas legislative session, including many of the bills we followed, Texans Care for Children has put together a comprehensive report.
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The 2019 legislative session focused on education and in-home programs.