Here are five high-profile issues to keep an eye on in the 2017 legislative session.
Many women don't get insurance from their employers, and, with few exceptions, women in Texas can't apply for Medicaid coverage until they're pregnant. So they often miss the opportunity for preconception care, such as diabetes treatment or access to contraception, which would help them plan a healthy pregnancy.
We should be proud that juvenile crime continues at historic lows and that we're holding more youth accountable in a way that increasingly helps them stay safe and on a path to success. As policymakers and others seek to build on this success, one of the key issues to start working on is confinement of youth on county probation.
According to a DFPS report, in 2015 every foster care caseworker was responsible for the safety of 28 children each day, on average. What does that mean for a child in foster care?
Some education stakeholders have expressed concerns about his views on school choice and his work on a "home rule" proposal in Dallas. But on the subject of pre-K, his track record as a Dallas ISD Trustee suggests he is a strong believer in the power of quality pre-K to boost school readiness and academic achievement.
High school classes can be daunting. When students are also burdened by the fear of losing a mother with cancer, the trauma of past sexual assault, the accumulated toxic stress of a chaotic childhood, or the weight of other mental health difficulties, those classes can quickly go from challenging to nearly impossible -- if proper mental health support isn't available.
When it comes to making our state healthier, a new report shows that we really can make progress when we roll up our sleeves and get to work -- and that we still have more work to do here in Texas.
We commend Texas Speaker of the House Joe Straus for launching a new select committee to examine early identification and treatment of Texans' mental health needs. By setting the stage for action during the 2017 legislative session, the committee can ensure more Texans have the support they need to succeed in our communities, avoiding the hardship and taxpayer expenses that result from waiting until mental health challenges become an emergency.
Now that the state has improve the safety measures on the front end of foster care, we need to apply that same focus to improving support receive during and their placement in foster care. Fortunately, the Speaker and Lt. Governor directed legislative committees to address services in foster care in preparation for next session.
During the recent legislative session, state lawmakers gave our health and human services agencies the difficult task of consolidating several departments and services. While we expressed our concerns about the consolidation plan during the legislative session, it's now time for us all to work together to make it as successful as possible.