Seneca is committed to informing and improving the local, state, and federal systems that serve children and families. Seneca’s broad geographic range and continuum of mental health, permanency, education, and juvenile justice services position the agency as a leader in shaping public policy. This work can take many forms: local county-level advocacy; state legislation; participation in state-level advisory councils or workgroups; developing partnerships or coalitions to advance innovative systems-change ideas, and more.
Seneca’s long history and proven commitment to the children and families in our programs, paired with our large geographic reach, gives us a “seat at the table” in many policy advocacy conversations about reforming family-serving care systems. However, we are, first and foremost, a direct care agency committed to supporting families through the most difficult times in their lives. Our policy advocacy work seeks to achieve reforms that will best support the children and families we serve and our program staff who are doing the critical work of providing unconditional care.
Seneca’s efforts to inform public policy should always be substantively informed by the voice, experience and need of the dedicated program staff working across Seneca sites, and the youth and families in our programs. If you are a Seneca staff person or a current or past program participant, and would like to connect about our policy work, please contact Hope Kamer, Policy Analyst, at Hope_Kamer@senecacenter.org. We hope to hear from you!
Advocating in Partnership
Seneca leverages our policy impact by working in coalition with other nonprofit care providers. In California, Seneca is a member of two advocacy organizations: California Alliance for Child and Family Services and California Council of Community Behavioral Health Agencies. On the national level, Seneca advocates as a part of the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities.
If you are an employee of Seneca, you are also a member of these three advocacy organizations. Check out their websites for updated information on state and federal reform work related to Seneca programs!
Our advocacy efforts this Spring will be primarily focused on continued engagement with the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal initiative (CalAIM). CalAIM is a multi-year effort led by the California Department of Health Care Services to substantively include the voices of stakeholders and consumers in reforming the Medi-Cal system. You can read more about CalAIM here: DHCS CalAIM Overview.
Additionally, Seneca’s Founder and CEO, Ken Berrick, serves as a Governor’s Appointee on the Child Welfare Council, a California statewide advisory body committed to improving the systems of care for children and families involved with the child welfare system. Ken co-chairs the Child Welfare Council’s Behavioral Health Committee, a group of stakeholders that provides best practice recommendations to the California Health and Human Services Agency on meeting the behavioral health needs of youth and families involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the child welfare system. The committee published a set of Policy Recommendations in January of 2021. The recommendations urge reforms related to the diagnosis requirement for youth in need of EPSDT Specialty Mental Health Services, furnishing an accessible continuum of behavioral health services for youth in every county, and strengthening the data and evaluation infrastructure of the service delivery systems charged with providing behavioral health care to children and families. More information on the Child Welfare Council can be found here: California Child Welfare Council.
Seneca is proud to be cosponsoring two bills this legislative session: