We’ve talked a lot over the last few months about what would happen if the Governor and the legislature were to follow through with the devastating cuts to adolescent reproductive health programs. We’ve sent letters, visited the Capitol and local legislative offices, and enlisted the help of numerous supporters. Despite all our efforts, the cuts were made: The one-year suspension of Cal-Learn, the defunding of the Community Challenge Grant (CCG) program. And still there are major threats to the programs and services that have helped so many California youth to be successful. The California School Age Families Education program (Cal-SAFE) is continually under fire as a result of being placed in Tier 3 flexibility. Schools are taking the money meant for Cal-SAFE and using it for other programs and services, and either underfunding or closing programs throughout the state. The Adolescent Family Life Program is constantly fighting cuts to its program, and we’re still suffering from the loss of the Male Involvement Program and TeenSmart Outreach, two wonderfully innovative and effective programs that were cut in 2008.
Despite the setbacks we’ve faced, now is NOT the time to give up. One of the things I’ve found so amazing about working in this field is the level of dedication and passion that my colleagues demonstrate every day. I know that even though things look pretty bleak right now, we can find a way to ensure that California doesn’t lose too much ground in the coming years. We need, as a field (and this includes all of you out there who, although you may have lost your jobs in the budget cuts or been transferred away from teen reproductive health, still care about this issue and want to stay involved) to stick together and continue to make our voices heard, to try to convince legislators and the Governor that these programs are too valuable to eliminate. We can advocate for the refunding of Cal-Learn and CCG in the future, we can work to find ways to ensure that sex education and youth/leadership development are still in the forefront.
One of the ways we hope to do this is through our monthly Internet radio show, TNCA Talks. In July, we’ll be talking about the budget cuts from a different perspective, and we want to make sure that everyone knows that the impacts we’re talking about are no longer predictions, but very harsh realities. We need you to call into the show to discuss the ways the cuts have impacted your communities; how many teens are no longer receiving service, how many communities have been dropped from the ranks of those that are offered programming, how many schools no longer have an adequately trained person to deliver their state- and federally-mandated prevention programming. We’re promoting the show to legislators, the media, the community at large and to anyone who cares about this issue in the hopes to garner more attention to what’s really happening on the ground as a result of funding cuts.
Please join us and make your voice heard. We need as many people as possible to call in and tell their stories.