Hello Neighbor -
This week I have lottery registration for public Pre-K, resources for parents looking for formula, and how to get your next set of free COVID19 tests up top, followed by the Top 3 for this edition: improving health care treatments for people with cancer and children with autoimmune disorders, expanding mental health care access, and improving safety and outcomes for the children of military members in Rhode Island. I also want to thank everyone who donated and came out to make my first fundraiser such a success! Two years ago when I was running to represent District 36 in the Rhode Island Senate I said I was ready to get to work - and I have not stopped working for our community ever since. But it's the support from all of you that makes it possible, and I am so appreciative! Thanks for reading!
Community Programs & Assistance
Public Pre-K Lottery OPEN: If you have a child who will be 4 by September 1, 2022 and you live in one of the cities or towns listed (North Kingstown is included!), enter the lottery for public Pre-K here before July 6, 2022!
Formula Resources: The baby formula shortage is causing so much stress for local parents. Here is one resource that can help, a tool that will alert you when your baby's formula is in stock at major retailers: https://findmybabyformula.com/
On a national level, the Defense Production Act has been enacted to increase formula production, and the Biden Administration has flown in formula supplies to deploy to areas of the country most in need. The Rhode Island Department of Health has also been working on this issue, this article has some important local resources and information.
Free COVID19 Rapid Tests Available: Another round of free COVID19 at-home rapid tests are available to order through this link.Rhode Island is experiencing a high volume of COVID19 cases currently, and having home tests helps protect our more vulnerable community members. 1.
Better Treatment for People with Cancer and Children with Autoimmune Disorders
This week the Rhode Island Senate passed Whip Goodwin's bill to guarantee coverage for biomarker testing for Rhode Islanders with cancer. From this article:
"Sponsored by Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, D-Providence, 2022-S 2201 mandates that every policy offered by health insurers and other health organizations provide the coverage by the beginning of 2023.
'Biomarker testing can save lives. It can help doctors identify treatment that is faster, more effective and less painful, and can ultimately save treatment dollars,” Goodwin said. 'All insurers should embrace this technology. Biomarker testing allows doctors to make full use of the cancer research and treatment experience that is available.'" I have spoken with healthcare workers and caregivers for people with cancer from District 36 who were strongly in support of this bill, and I was happy to vote for it this week! We also passed a bill sponsored by Sen. Val Lawson to ensure coverage for children with pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections and pediatric acute onset neuropsychiatric syndrome, also known as PANDAS/PANS. From Sen. Lawson: “The stress and uncertainty that arises with PANDAS can be extremely challenging for children and their families. When compounded with treatment costs after a diagnosis is made, families who are affected by PANDAS are in need of serious help and support. This bill will make sure that children suffering from PANDAS get the medical help they need while also protecting the wallets and pocketbooks of their families." I have seen firsthand the difficulties children and families face getting proper diagnosis and treatment for this issue, and passage of this bill is crucial in helping to address that.
2. Expanded Telehealth Access for Psychologists and Patients
This week the Rhode Island Senate passed a bill I sponsored that would increase public access to professional psychological services by allowing for telepsychological practice across state lines as well as temporary in-person, face-to-face services in a state where the psychologist is not licensed to practice psychology.
The bill (S 2605) would authorize the governor to enter into the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact and would designate an office to administer it. The act would also create an interstate agreement that would allow limited telepsychological practice to be conducted across state lines among member states. This article explains more:
“'Through passage of this legislation, we would be joining 33 other states to allow for telehealth services across state lines in participating states with a universal credential through the compact that maintains high standards of patient protection and care,' said Senator DiMario. 'Without passage of this bill the temporary COVID waivers allowing this will expire at the end of June, which would leave many Rhode Islanders suddenly without access to their treatment and many providers having to end care for their out of state patients.'
Requirements for receiving and maintaining licensure vary significantly across states. The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact makes it easier for psychologists to practice telepsychology (providing services remotely) across the states within the compact, reducing burdens of maintaining multiple licenses across states." Expanded professional opportunities for Rhode Island psychologists and improved access and continuity of care for Rhode Islanders, win/win!
3. Improved Safety for Military Children
A bill I sponsored to improve communication between the Department of Children, Youth, & Families and the Military Family Advocacy Program to ensure the safety of military children who have been the victims of abuse has passed both the Senate and the House, where it was sponsored by Rep. Julie Casimiro. This article explains the importance of this measure:
“'We have more than 2,200 children of active duty military personnel in Rhode Island, and over 2,700 children of National Guard and Reserve members,' DiMario said. 'This bill would codify into law a process that has already begun happening through a memorandum of understanding between DCYF and the military community.'
In that process, DCYF investigators ascertain the military status of the caregiver of a suspected child victim, and then “loop in” the Family Advocacy Program, which was established by the Department of Defense to address domestic abuse, child abuse and neglect, and problematic sexual behavior in children and youth.
'The Family Advocacy Program can help to make sure if the family is experiencing a difficult time that appropriate modifications are made,' DiMario said, offering the example that if a person was under investigation for suspected abuse or neglect, 'you wouldn’t want that person deployed. It is important that that person be able to stay and be held accountable.'
The program is delivered through military services who work in coordination with civilian agencies to prevent abuse, encourage early identification and prompt reporting, promote victim safety and empowerment, and provide appropriate treatment for affected service members and their families." I was so glad to team up with Rep. Casimiro on this one to get it across the finish line this year!
Photo of the Week:
I recently had the chance to speak at an event about the Trauma Informed Schools Act, sponsored by Sen. Sandra Cano and Rep. Marcia Ranglin-Vassell. I used my speaking time to share some information about how trauma effects our bodies and brains, and why it's so crucial for children's development and learning that the adults around them know how to effectively recognize the effects of trauma and create safe and secure environments in which they can thrive.