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Councilmember Henderson's Newsletter

January 12, 2024

Neighbors,  

The holiday season flew by quickly, and now it’s time to grab a coat and catch the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk and Parade on Monday, January 15. In the spirit of change and new beginnings, I want to start off by letting you know my biggest New Year’s resolution—ensuring that our government is working efficiently.  

I am excited to say that the agency performance oversight season is about to start. The performance oversight schedule kicks off with hearings for the Committee on Health. To see the full schedule of performance oversight hearings, click here. To find Committee instructions on how to testify or submit testimony for the record, click here. I am eager to learn more in-depth about how residents have been experiencing the services provided by our agencies over the past year, and if our agencies were successful in meeting their goals.

I’d like to touch on some important topics that have reached my office since the start of the new year.

SNAP Developments

As you know, last month, my colleagues and I were engaged in a back-and-forth with the Mayor’s office regarding their decision to not implement the Give SNAP a Raise Amendment of 2022, as required under the Fiscal Year of 2024 Budget Support Act of 2023. Last week, the Chairman circulated a resolution authorizing the Council’s general counsel to engage in litigation to enforce the law. Shortly thereafter, the Director of the Department of Human Services notified the Council that the Executive would implement the Give SNAP a Raise provision. Over 140,000 DC residents will see their benefits increase beginning in late February. Beneficiaries should expect to receive notice of the increase on February 17. Guaranteeing food accessibility and security to the District remains a priority for me, and I am pleased that both the legislative and the executive branches of our government were able to come to a resolution.  

Strengthening the District’s 911 Call Center

To combat the staffing shortages affecting the Office of Unified Communication (OUC), the Committee of Executive Administration and Labor held a hearing on my Retired Firefighter and Police Officer Redeployment Amendment Act of 2023. The bill would grant firefighters retired from the Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department (FEMS) and police officers retired from the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) eligibility for rehire at the discretion of the Director of the OUC as a temporary full-time or temporary part-time 911 call taker or 911 dispatcher, without decreasing their retirement benefits. Retired firefighters and police officers are uniquely suited to work at the OUC as 911 call-takers and dispatchers due to their emergency response experience, medical expertise, and knowledge of the city’s geography and physical characteristics. Last month, the Council passed an identical emergency version of this bill, and we have already heard from retired firefighters and police officers regarding their interest in applying for vacant 911 call taker and dispatcher positions. The positions are posted now on the DC Human Resources website.  

The rest of the newsletter provides updates on my legislative work and community events. Please read on.

In service,

Christina Henderson

Councilmember, At-Large

ChristinaHendersonDC.com

                                                                                                                     Health Committee Updates

Public Oversight Roundtable  

On Thursday, January 4, the Committee on Health held a hearing on staffing challenges in school health suites. DC Health provides a grant to Children’s School Services to staff the health suites in public and public charter schools. In School Year 2023-2024, DC Health and Children’s rolled out a new staffing model that promised to address chronic problems of understaffed health suites. However, the Committee has learned that, as of November 28, 2023, only 56% of the health suites that participate in the School Health Services Program were staffed with 40 hours of staffing coverage.  

At this roundtable, the Committee sought answers on why the new model has not delivered on its staffing promises and identified solutions to increase high quality staffing of school health suites. During the hearing, Councilmember Henderson listened to testimony from parents, educators, experts from Children’s National Hospital, and government witnesses from the Department of Health.  

In her discussions with witnesses from Children’s National Hospital, Councilmember Henderson inquired about their plans to retain school nurses and health technicians. She also analyzed the salary differences between school nurses and health technicians in the District versus Prince George’s County and Anne Arundel County. In her conversation with government witnesses from DC Health, she inquired about the accuracy of the staffing allocation algorithm, specifically whether the algorithm accounts for new transfer students. Information and testimony from the hearing can be found on the Council’s new Hearing Management System here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.  

Public Roundtable on Health Board Nominees  

On Wednesday, January 10, the Committee on Health held a Public Hearing on the following nominees.

Information and testimony from the hearing can be found on the Council’s new Hearing Management System here.

                                                                                                                Upcoming Performance Oversight Hearings

The Council has a NEW centralized system for signing up for hearings. Check it out here: https://lims.dccouncil.gov/hearings/

 

                                                                                                                                                          Key Legislative Updates

Committee on Executive Administration and Labor  

On Thursday, January 11, the Committee on Executive Administration and Labor held a hearing on Councilmember Henderson’s Retired Firefighter and Police Officer Redeployment Amendment Act of 2023, as well as the Initiative Amendment Act of 2023. During the hearing, Councilmember Henderson listened to testimony from members of the public and witnesses from the DC Firefighters Association. In her conversation with the President of the DC Firefighter Association, Councilmember Henderson inquired about lines of communication between the DC Firefighter Association and the DC Police Union. Information about the hearing can be found on the Council’s Calendar here, and a recording of the hearing can be found here.

                                                                                                                              Christina in the Community

Reproductive Health Clinic Visits

On Thursday, January 4, Councilmember Henderson toured a reproductive health clinic alongside the clinic’s dedicated OB-GYNs and learned about the clinic’s extensive doula services and reproductive services. She followed that with a visit to Planned Parenthood of Metro DC on Monday, January 8. After the overturning of Roe v. Wade, lawmakers across the nation introduced a barrage of anti-abortion legislation, and both clinics reported an increase in pregnant people leaving their home states for abortion care in DC.

Council Briefing on Young Parent Wellbeing

On Thursday, January 11, Councilmember Henderson welcomed to the Wilson Building young parents involved in the DC NEXT! Project to discuss ground-breaking data from young parents about what helps them thrive. The Primary Care Association, as part of the DC NEXT! Project, surveyed more than 400 young parents in DC to learn the impacts of education, employment, housing, and more on their well-being. You can view their 2024 report here.

Girl Scout Troops  

On Thursday, January 11, Councilmember Henderson spoke with Girl Scouts at the Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Public Charter School – East End Campus. She described the District’s budget process, and the Scouts highlighted their priorities, including additional speed cameras, aid for immigrants, higher teacher pay, expanded parks, and increased funding for people experiencing homelessness. They also shared laws that they would like to introduce, such as free college, measures against carjacking, anti-smoking initiatives, and advancements in animal rights.

                                                                                                         In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News

 .                                                                                                                                                Constituent Services Corner

  • Know Your Rights When Making Purchases Through SNAP: SNAP Retailers Cannot: Charge a transaction fee to consumers paying with a SNAP card; Set a minimum transaction amount for qualified SNAP purchases; Require a minimum SNAP card balance in order to make a qualified purchase; Require SNAP users to make a SNAP card balance inquiry before making a purchase.
  • If you know of SNAP retailers in the District that are not following the law, please report it to the DC Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) Mediation Program by: Calling OAG’s Consumer Protection Hotline at (202) 442-9828; OR Emailing protection@dc.gov; OR Submitting a consumer complaint online here.
  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests: DC Public Libraries have at-home tests available for pickup! For a full list of library locations with test kits available, click here.
  • Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests Continue: The federal government will continue to distribute free COVID-19 tests directly to homes. This ensures that free COVID-19 tests are available to marginalized and uninsured communities. Order up to four COVID-19 at-home tests per household here.
  • Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Peace Walk & Parade: On Monday, January 15 from 10:45 am to 2 pm, the Peace Rally will begin at Shepherd Park at the corner of MLK Ave & Malcolm X Ave SE. The Parade will begin at the R.I.S.E. Center (2730 MLK Jr. Ave SE) at 11 am. For more information, click here.
  • DC Prevention Centers provide education on drugs and substance abuse, prevention strategy training for youth, families, schools and communities, prevention material distribution, and tobacco use prevention programs. For a map of prevention centers in each ward, click here.
  • Hillcrest Children and Family Center (915 Rhode Island Avenue NW) is a participant in the DC Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment Expansion Program (ASTEP). For neighbors in need of intensive out-patient group, individual and family services, assessments, and basic education activities to delay the onset of experimentation with drugs and alcohol, you can click here to make an appointment or call at 202-232-2300.
  • DPW Yard Waste Collection is now year-round. Residents must call 311 to make an appointment for yard waste collection. Residents can also visit 311.dc.gov to make an appointment or download and schedule an appointment using the 311 mobile app available at the Google Play and Apple App stores.  DPW only collects yard waste in paper bags. DPW will collect up to 20 paper bags of yard waste from residences that receive DPW’s trash and recycling collection services.   Residents are still able to leave their paper yard waste bags at the point of trash collection. Residents who wish to can drop off their yard waste at the Fort Totten Transfer Station during normal residential business hours.
  • Sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates: The 2023 Paving Plan is published on the  PaveDC website at the start of the construction season. The website also includes separate tabs for sidewalks scheduled for repair and the Alley Restoration Plan for Fiscal Year 2023. For more information about these projects, please visit DDOT's interactive tool, PaveDC. To sign up for DDOT’s weekly construction updates, visit the sign up page.
  • Medicaid Renewal, Don’t Wait to Update: All DC residents with health coverage through Medicaid, Alliance, or the Immigrant Children’s Program must renew their coverage. Please visit the District Direct website to update your address, phone number, and/or email so that the Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) knows where to send your Medicaid renewal letter. If you require assistance, please call the Public Benefits Center at 202-727-5355.
  • Have a constituent service need related to the Health Committee or any of the other agencies in DC Government? Want Councilmember Henderson to come to your community event or meeting? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our Constituent Services Director Ana Berrios-Vazquez during regular business hours (9:00am - 5:30pm) at 202-724-8105, or ABerriosVazquez@dccouncil.gov.