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February Newsletter #1: Demonstrating My Commitment to District Residents

February 9, 2024


In the last two weeks, the Council has had much of the city’s attention as my fellow Councilmembers and I carry out our legislative duties. As always, I am eager to demonstrate my commitment to District residents, and you can read more about how I’ve been doing this below.

Introducing Legislation to Support those Experiencing Mental Health Crisis

This week, I introduced the Enhancing Mental Health Crisis Support and Hospitalization Amendment Act of 2024. The bill would strengthen the District’s mental health processes regarding involuntary and voluntary commitment procedures.  

Involuntary hospitalization, also referred to as involuntary commitment or civil commitment, is the legal procedure through which an individual is compelled to enter a hospital or psychiatric facility without their consent, temporarily, for the purpose of mental health evaluation and treatment. According to the Office of the Attorney General, 2,493 Emergency Petitions for involuntary hospitalization, also known as FD-12 Petitions, were filed in 2022, and 2,930 in 2023.  

In the District we are seeing cases of what happens when individuals experiencing mental health crisis do not receive timely care. My aim in introducing this bill is to maintain an overall well-being in our community by keeping residents safe from themselves and each other.

Secure DC Receives First Vote

Secure DC was approved on first vote this Tuesday and an amendment that I offered was adopted.  The amendment removed “causing a person to fear for their personal safety” as culpable intent of a person wearing a mask or face covering, as it is quite subjective. Other amendments to the law that were approved: moved up the applicability date for record sealing provisions in the Second Chance Amendment Act to October 2024, made temporary the expanded pre-trial detention provisions, and eliminated all the of the DNA collection provisions from the bill. As of now, the Council will take the final vote on the legislation at the March 5 Legislative Meeting. After the mayoral review period, there is a 60-day Congressional review period before the bill becomes law.

The rest of this newsletter contains information on Performance Oversight Hearings, updates on legislation, the My School DC lottery application and more. Please read on…  


In Service,


Christina Henderson

Councilmember At-Large

Chairperson, Committee on Health

                                                                                                                                              Health Committee Updates

On January 25, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Hospital and Health Equity held a joint Performance Oversight Hearing on United Medical Center (UMC). Issues that came up at the hearing included ongoing workforce challenges; development of the hospital closure plan; evaluation of the Overdose Survivors Outreach Program; reviewing psychiatric services management including FD-12 admissions; and hospital security.  

The Committee on Health also held a Performance Oversight Hearing on the Department of Behavioral Health in two sessions. The first session was held on Monday, January 29 and featured public testimony from students, Department of Behavioral Health community-based providers, advocates, and health professionals.  

The second session was held on Wednesday, January 31 and included Department of Behavioral Health Director Dr. Barbara Bazron and her team. Throughout the hearings, a wide range of issues were discussed, including a thorough examination of DBH’s grants, with particular attention to concerns about underspending of the agency’s federal State Opioid Response grants. Moreover, discussions revolved around the impending behavioral health system transformation scheduled for April 1, 2024, which will integrate behavioral health services into the District’s Medicaid Managed Care Plans. Additional topics addressed encompassed the District’s opioid crisis, identified gaps in mental health and substance use disorder services, updates on the School-Based Behavioral Health program, and strategies for crisis response.

On Thursday, February 8, the Committee on Health held a Joint Performance Oversight Hearing with the Committee on Hospital and Health Equity on the DC Department of Healthcare Finance (DHCF) and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services (DMHHS) on Thursday, February 8, 2024. Both entities are led by Wayne Turnage. The hearing featured testimony from public and government witnesses. Issues brought up during DMHHS’s portion included the Office’s involvement in the District’s strategy to address to the opioid crisis, provision of housing support services to individuals relocated from encampments, and updates on Cedar Hill Regional Medical Center (slated to be located in Ward 8). The Committee was pleased to learn that the hospital is reportedly on schedule and on budget for an opening in 2025.

Issues brought up during DHCF’s portion included an update on the system responsible for processing Medicaid and other critical program applications. Additionally, there was an in-depth discussion on the upcoming integration of behavioral health services into the District’s Managed Care Plans and exploration of new funding models for behavioral health services implemented over the past year.

                                                                                                                                    Performance Oversight Roundtables

Councilmember Henderson has attended several oversight hearings held by other Committees over the past two weeks:

The Judiciary and Public Safety Committee held a hearing on the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) on Wednesday, January 31. Issues that came up during the hearing included vacancies at DFS, new policies and protocols in place at DFS to ensure that the agency maintains its accreditations for DNA and drug testing units, plans to revise external testing of samples now that the units are functional, plans to build up to 100% capacity in the reaccredited units, and internal processes with DC Health to ensure that federal sub-grants intended for the DFS public health lab are transferred from DC Health.

On Wednesday, February 7, the Judiciary Committee held a hearing on Fire and Emergency Medical Services (FEMS). Topics discussed included addressing pipeline issues with the Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) program at Eastern High School, the FEMS and DBH Opioid Response Team’s staffing challenges and outcomes, the progress of the new electronic Patient Care Report data-sharing partnership of FEMS, DBH, and DC Health, and an update on FEMS’ timeline for replacing the John Glenn fireboat.  

Later that day, the Judiciary Committee heard from government witness Director Faust from the Department of Corrections (DOC). Topics discussed during the hearing included DC Health inspection of facilities and addressing deficiencies, capital expenditures in FY23, a timeline for planning for the new jail facilities, addressing overdoses in the jail, and exploring treatment options for those people in DOC custody who have substance use disorders.

The Committee of the Whole heard from government witnesses the Chief Financial Officer, the City Administrator, and the Inspector General on Thursday, February 1, regarding the Fiscal Year 2023 Annual Comprehensive Financial Report. Issues discussed included administrative issues related to the agency underspending of federal grants, positives in the annual review such as increases in income tax revenue and sales tax revenue, trends in employee hiring and demographic characteristics, opportunities to pivot in the District’s handling of its sports betting program and contracts, the impacts of higher interest rates on commercial property tax and deed tax collections, and the impact of interest rates on the District’s housing market.  

The Committee on Recreation, Libraries, and Youth Affairs heard from the District of Columbia Public Library on Wednesday, February 7. Director Richard Reyes-Galivan was the government witness, issues discussed included library visits for FY 23, revenue raised by renting DCPL spaces for events, the effects of general improvements funding being reprogrammed for other uses, and the status of Rosedale Library project.

The Committee on Executive Administration and Labor heard from City Administrator, Kevin Donahue on Wednesday, February 7 , issued discussed included the status of outstanding reports, the Executive’s process for approving reports and the Executive’s authority in choosing whether or not to release reports commissioned by the Council.

Also on February 7, the Committee on Business and Economic Development heard from Executive Director Angie Gates, from Events DC and discussed sporting events, process of bidding for conventions and events at the convention center, availability of St. Elizabeths campus for events, making Downtown a family-friendly place through activation and programming, and Events DC’s relationships with schools in using Events DC spaces.

                                                                                                                     Upcoming Performance Oversight Hearings

The performance oversight hearing schedule is live and can be viewed here,


Key Legislative Updates

First Vote for Extended Students’ Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Amendment Act of 2023

The Extended Students Right to Home or Hospital Instruction Amendment Act,which Councilmember Henderson introduced, was approved during its first vote on February 6. The second vote for this bill will happen at the next legislative meeting.  The bill adds pre-birth complications, childbirth, and postpartum recovery to the list of health conditions which render a student eligible for home or hospital instruction, allowing students with pregnancy related health issues to keep up with their education.

Health Board Nominees Confirmed

On Tuesday, February 6th, the Council confirmed nominees to Health Boards during their legislative meeting:

  • PR25-0560: Board of Long-Term Care Administration Dr. Bretha Harris Confirmation Resolution of 2023;  
  • PR25-0561: Board of Long-Term Care Administration Judy Brinckerhoff Confirmation Resolution of 2023;  
  • PR25-0575: Board of Professional Counseling Victoria Sherk Confirmation Resolution of 2023;  
  • PR25-0574: Board of Professional Counseling Rhonda Brown Confirmation Resolution of 2023;  
  • and -PR25-0578: Board of Occupational Therapy Omololu Majekodunmi Confirmation Resolution of 2023.   

Restaurant Revitalization and DRAM Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023

The Restaurant Revitalization and DRAM Shop Clarification Amendment Act of 2023 passed first vote on February 6 during the Council’s legislative meeting. The bill includes portions of a liquor liability reform bill that Councilmember Henderson  introduced with Councilmember Brooke Pinto that defines the term “intoxicated,” clarifies that licensed businesses can only be held liable for injury or damages if they knowingly serve, sell, or deliver alcohol to a person under the age of 21 or a person that obviously shows signs of intoxication, limits civil action to third parties, and caps monetary damages in civil actions. This legislation was co-introduced to address the District’s exorbitantly high liability insurance costs that are the second highest in the nation. The second vote on this bill will happen at the next legislative meeting.


                                                                                                                                            Christina in the Community

                                                                                                                                                        National Wear Red Day

February is American Heart Month and the American Heart Association is working to raise awareness about heart disease, CPR, training, healthy eating, and more. Last Friday Councilmember Henderson and staff wore red for National Wear Red Day to promote heart health.


                                                                                                              In Case You Missed It: Councilmember Henderson in the News


                                                                                                                                                Constituent Service Corner

Save the date:

Councilmember Christina Henderson will be hosting Community Service Office Hours in March. Stay tuned for updates.  

March 6 10:30- 12:00 - Lillian J. Huff/Lamond-Riggs Library

March 13 10:30-12:00 - Cleveland Park Library

March 18 9:30- 11:00 –  Highlands Café and Grill  

  • Office of Unified Communications Junior Academy (OUC) is proud to announce its first Junior Academy. The academy is a free, five week program that aims to familiarize high school students with OUC career opportunities in hopes to onboard participants who have a passion for public safety and serving their community. Students will begin March 2024. Find more information, click here.
  • The My School DC common application and lottery is now open. DC residents can now apply to DC public and public charter schools for the 2024 – 2025 school year. The lottery application deadline for PK3 – Grade 8 is March 1st , 2024; the application can be accessed here.
  • Department of Parks and Recreation Summer Camp has officially opened its registration for this year’s summer camp. All camp offerings are posted on the DPR website to allow families an opportunity to look at options. The registration lottery will run February 12th – 26th. For reduced rates for qualifying families, click here. For all other details, click here.
  • Youth Health Summit presented by DC Health, the summit will include sex education discussions, free and confidential HIV/STI testing, fitness activities, free breakfast and lunch, and more. The Youth Health summit will be held on Friday, February 23rd, from 10AM to 3PM at Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library, 901 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20001.
  • The 2024 Mayor Marion S. Barry’s Summer Youth Employment Program application is now open and closes on March 6th, 2024. MBSYEP is a locally funded initiative that provides District youth ages 14 to 24 with an enriching summer employment experience through subsidized placements in the public and private sector. New applicants to the program can apply here. Returning participants can apply here.  

Information on Services

  • Get Free Tax Prep: Free tax preparation for seniors is now available at eight DC Public libraries until April 15th. Assistance is by appointment only. View the locations, here.  
  • 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;
  • Emailing; or
  • Submitting a consumer complaint online here.
  • 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.

Covid Tests

  • 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.

Prevention Services

  • 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.


  • 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  

Stay Connected

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