N ational Council of L a Raza California NCLR Affiliate Network 2004 Advocacy Day
There are over 12 million Latinos residing in California. One in every three Californians is of Hispanic origin and more than half of all babies born in the state are Latino. As a significant and growing presence in school systems, the workforce, the electorate, and the broader fabric of American economic and social life, the Latino community’s prospects are inextricably linked to those of the state as a whole. The National Council of La Raza (NCLR) and the California NCLR Affiliate Network (CNAN) believe that taking action on the following items is an important step that can help ensure that Latinos and all Californians are safe, treated fairly, receive a high quality education, have access to health care, and create and sustain strong communities. Preschool for All Improving the academic outcomes of Latino children is a critical issue for California given that they are the fastestgrowing population in the state and represent our future workers, the underpinning of our economic progress. Currently, Latino children lag behind their peers in educational access, achievement, and attainment, and the very services that would help improve this outlook continue to underserve Latinos. In California, 48% of all children 05 years old are Latino, yet less than 25% of these children attend preschool. In addition, early education initiatives often fail to address adequately the quality of early education services for Latino and English language learner (ELL) children, who require linguistically and culturally responsive services to meet school readiness goals and fully and successfully integrate into the educational system. •
NCLR urges policymakers to move forward on Preschool for All (PFA) proposals that address important access barriers and quality issues for Latino children. Any effort to implement universal preschool must be coupled with meaningful outreach efforts to alert immigrant and English language learner (ELL) parents about the eligibility of their children to participate in these programs and to facilitate enrollment. Second, real access by definition must include culturally and linguistically appropriate services. The Department of Education must be flexible and creative in working with Proposition 227 mandates to ensure that universal preschool will have positive academic outcomes for ELL students. Finally, given that Latinos make up a significant proportion of the preschool population, legislation should include efforts to recruit early childhood education instructors with language and cultural competence, and provide professional development in these areas for existing personnel.
Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships The Administration proposes to eliminate funding to K12 Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships, or “outreach” programs, within the University of California (UC) and California State University (CSU) systems – initiatives that are vital to closing the achievement gap that currently exists in California. These outreach programs focus their services on educationally disadvantaged students who do not have equal access to college preparatory resources, serve students who reflect the diversity of the state’s population, and are particularly critical for Latino students who remain underrepresented in California public postsecondary institutions. Despite representing 42.4% of all 18 to 24yearolds (the traditional collegebound age group) in California, Latinos constituted only 24.3% of all students enrolled in California’s public colleges in the fall of 2000. •
NCLR urges legislators to preserve K12 Academic Preparation and Educational Partnerships within the UC and CSU systems. At a time when the state is becoming increasingly diverse, eliminating outreach programs, which have already been cut by over 50%, would only serve to perpetuate the severe economic and educational disparities that currently exist within our state. The percentage of new students enrolling in UC/CSU who have received outreach services is substantial, proving the
effectiveness of these programs in maintaining diversity within the postsecondary system in the post Proposition 209 regulatory environment. Single Block Grant The Administration proposes to consolidate statefunded programs that serve legal immigrants in a single block grant. The block grant would provide fixed sums of money to counties to provide basic safetynet services in a discretionary manner. Counties will have the discretion to decide what programs should continue to be provided to current beneficiaries. These programs include CalWORKs, California Food Assistance Program (CFAP), Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), and Healthy Families for legal immigrant children. •
NCLR urges you to maintain the administrative and funding reliability of CFAP and CAPI. These are programs that allow families to stay in the workforce and reduce the state’s need for more costly interventions. CFAP provides nutritional assistance for immigrants who are working and contributing to the state’s economy. Studies show that the prevalence of hunger among legal immigrants is seven to ten times greater than for families who have not lost their Food Stamp benefits. CAPI assists elderly and disabled legal immigrants who may otherwise be pushed into indigence without these supplements. For many disabled legal immigrants, CAPI supplements are the only way to make ends meet, whether by providing access to food and housing or by helping defray the costs of necessary medical services.
Cap Enrollments The Administration proposes to cap MediCal enrollment of legal immigrant children for nonemergency Medi Cal services at 910,000, denying services to 78,000 individuals to save a total of $17.2 million. Once the limit is reached, those immigrants eligible for MediCal will be placed on a waiting list. Healthy Families is also looking to cap the enrollment of eligible children and families at 732,000. This program provides lowcost, comprehensive health insurance to lowincome children and their families. This reduction is expected to create a waiting list of 110,000 children, predominately Latino. •
NCLR urges you to maintain the administrative and funding integrity of the MediCal and Healthy Families programs to avoid exacerbating uninsurance rates among Latinos. When compared to all ethnic groups, Latinos depend on MediCal and the Healthy Families program significantly more than any other group. Twentysix percent of the Latino community, or 2.3 million individuals, rely on Medi Cal and the Healthy Families program for health coverage.
Driver’s Licenses Senator Gil Cedillo (DLos Angeles) has introduced SB 1160, which would allow immigrants to apply for a driver’s license and includes provisions to address security concerns. Currently, California requires a Social Security Number and proof of legal status from driver’s license applicants, effectively barring many individuals in different stages of the immigration process from obtaining a driver’s license and auto insurance, and preventing the state from testing their driving knowledge and skills. The provisions to address security concerns are still being negotiated by Senator Cedillo and Governor Schwarzenegger. •
NCLR believes that driver’s licenses should serve as proof of an individual’s authorization to operate a motor vehicle and proof of identity. However, NCLR does not support legislation that ties obtaining a driver’s license to immigration status or a process that requires Departments of Motor Vehicles to be responsible for making immigrant eligibility determinations. NCLR urges you to work with advocates to advance public safety, national security, and uphold civil and immigrant rights to make sure that all California residents be eligible to obtain a driver’s license only if they pass the driving and written tests, submit proof of identity, and comply with all other licensing requirements.
California Advocacy Day Issues 2004