‘Tis the season for gratitude and thanks. While as a city we continue to deal with some tough challenges, I am encouraged by the ways we look out for our neighbors and those who need our support. I witness examples of caring every day as I meet with constituents and advocates and visit schools, parks, and businesses around the District. As a Councilmember, I am thankful for the ways that residents challenge and engage with me to explore how to solve some of the city’s most pressing issues, such as creating a pilot for free bus access, giving SNAP a raise, and ensuring access to comprehensive reproductive services.
The general election is over, and I would like to thank the Board of Elections for ensuring District residents were informed, updated, and ready to vote. Thousands of mail-in ballots were printed, mailed, collected, and counted. Vote Centers were equipped with knowledgeable and kind staff & volunteers who answered questions, assisted residents with disabilities, and provided logistical support. While we often focus on the candidates, those who work behind the scenes to make Election Days successful do not always get the appreciation they deserve. To all the workers and volunteers who played a role in the primary and general elections this year, thank you for supporting our democracy and our residents.The end of a Council Period is always a very busy time. It's hard to believe that we have nearly 30 days left in 2022. I plan to make the most of it!
Safeway's Feast of Sharing
Team Henderson gave back at the Safeway’s Feast of Sharing. The event also had a Community Services and Health Expo, a clothing distribution and a demonstration from Senior Sit and Be Fit. One of the greatest parts of being an elected official is the opportunities I have to be out in the community, with neighbors from all 8 Wards.
Committee of the Whole
November 1: The Committee marked up B24-455: The Omnibus Athlete Agent and College Athlete Name, Image, or Likeness Amendment Act of 2022. This bill included provisions from my bill B24-445: College Student Athlete Compensation Amendment Act of 2021, which requires universities to provide financial literacy education to student athletes and establishes a list of categories that DC student athletes are prohibited from endorsing in exchange for compensation.
November 2: The Committee held a hearing for my bill B24-989: Educator Background Check Streamlining Amendment Act of 2022. This bill proposes improvements to the screening process for teachers and volunteers in DC Public Schools. While the typical background check process should take around 3 weeks, it is now taking upwards of 3 months. This legislation proposes revisions to the suitability screening process in DCPS by screening the states an applicant has lived or worked. The past 3 employers or past 7 years of direct supervision of children will be examined. Several witnesses from community-based organizations that work with youth and their families spoke of the difficulty of getting their staff into the schools to provide much-needed academic and mental health supports.
Committee on Human Services
November 17: The Committee marked up my bill B24-600: Give SNAP a Raise Amendment Act of 2022. This legislation would offset the gap created by the rapidly rising costs of food and lagging SNAP benefits. The Committee Print will allow more households to get through the month on SNAP benefits alone and make it worthwhile for people deciding whether to apply for benefits to do so. For example, it may not be seen as worthwhile to apply for $30 (the current minimum) a month in benefits, but the new functional minimum for a household of five—$130—makes that choice much easier. The bill now awaits a vote from the full Council. I’m thankful that my colleagues supported this bill, as it would provide much needed assistance to District families.
Committee on Health
November 21: The Committee marked up my bill B24-648: School Psychologist Licensing Clarification Amendment Act of 2022. This bill will clarify that the general licensing obligations of the Board of Psychiatry exempt school-based psychologists working at both DC Public and Charter Schools.
Current DC law states that school psychologists who work “in accordance with the regulations of the District of Columbia Board of Education” are exempt from Board of Psychology licensing obligations. However, in a recent decision, the Board of Psychology has interpreted this exemption to apply to only school psychologists who are employed by DCPS, excluding DCPCS – even though OSSE issues certifications to school psychologists in both sectors. This has led to school psychologists at public charters, who are similarly situated as their DCPS counterparts, facing sanctions for unlicensed practice. This is harmful to our students that are served by DCPCS that also need access to quality mental health services.
This bill also includes language that makes changes to the Perinatal Mental Health Task Force Amendment Act of 2022, which was included as a subtitle in the FY 23 Budget Support Act of 2022. We passed emergency and temporary measures in September to remove the requirement that Council approve each nominee to the Task Force and to push back the due date for the Task Force’s report by one month. By incorporating these changes into the School Psychologist Licensing Clarification Amendment Act of 2022, the Committee on Health will give the Task Force an additional 75 days to complete their report.
Committee on Labor and Workforce Development
November 21: The Committee expanded the District Government Family Bereavement Leave Amendment Act of 2022 and will now provide an additional 10 days of leave for the death of a family member, third-trimester miscarriage, or a stillbirth, in addition to the 3 days regularly available for bereavement for the death of any immediate relative. This is wonderful news for DC government employees and highlights the importance of ensuring the mental health needs of our city employees are prioritized as they grieve their loved ones.
Urban Libraries Council-Annual Forum
On November 17, I spoke on a panel at the Urban Libraries Council’s Annual Forum with the Director of DC Public Library, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, Karl Dean, the former mayor of Nashville, and Brooks Rainwater, the CEO of ULC. Librarians and advocates from across the country gathered at Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library. We had a spirited and motivating discussion on the implication of banned books, the role of libraries in creating an informed and equitable society, and how libraries are tackling the numerous attacks on democracy. Rich and I were also able to make a shameless plug encouraging attendees to advocate for DC Statehood! Many in the audience were surprised to learn we have no voting member in Congress.
Constituent Service Corner and Event Updates
The Department of Public Works (DPW) will provide leaf collection service from November 7, 2022, through January 28, 2023 for residents who receive trash and recycling services. Please review your ward map as the boundary may have changed since last year.
District households serviced by DPW are asked to rake leaves into the tree box (or at the curb in front of their home where there is no tree box) on the Sunday of the week of their scheduled collection. Visit DPW’s Leaf Collection page for more information.
EdFest is back and it’s virtual. Students and families will be able to explore the city’s public and public charter school options (PK3 – Grade 12), chat directly with school representatives and learn about the public-school lottery – all from their device. With the launch of the public-school lottery application on Dec. 12, 2022, for the 2023-24 school year, EdFEST is a timely event to help families make informed choices. Click here to learn more.
DC Early Education Expo-Childcare Resource Fair
Early childhood education programs and District families are still in recovery from the pandemic. Families are looking for high-quality childcare, and early childhood education centers and homes are seeking educators for employment opportunities. In response to these challenges, The District of Columbia Association for the Education of Youth Children (DCAEYC) and several local advocacy organizations are hosting a Child Care Resource Fair. It will and will take place on Saturday, December 10, 2022, from 10am to 3pm at the DC Armory. For more information, visit DCAEYC’s website.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference
On November 18, I spoke at the NAEYC Conference about Early Childhood Educator compensation. We discussed how educators can connect and form relationships to build coalitions, the implications on the workforce when childcare isn’t accessible or affordable, and how we can all support Early Childhood Educators by dignifying the important work they do.
Transportation Planning Board’s Community Advisory Committee
The Transportation Planning Board is now accepting applications for the 2023-2024 Community Advisory Committee (CAC). The CAC is a group of people from throughout the Washington metropolitan region who represent diverse viewpoints on long-term transportation policy. The mission of the CAC is:
The application deadline is December 5, 2022. You can apply here.
DCPS School Lunch Tour
On November 9, I took a tour of three DCPS school lunch programs at Ron Brown Preparatory High School in Deanwood (Ward 7), John Burroughs Elementary School (Ward 5), and Cardozo Education Campus (Ward 1). I got a chance to see how each school has not only reimagined how they prepare student meals, but also how the students are taking control of their lunch experience. Students vote for menu items, participate in meal preparation competitions, and sample new vegetables prepared in a variety of familiar and unfamiliar ways. The students at Burroughs said the Tilapia was the best thing on the menu!
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations
The Princeton Prize in Race Relations recognizes and rewards high school students who have had a significant positive effect on race relations in their schools or communities through their volunteer efforts.
Prize recipients receive a cash prize of $1,000 and an all-expenses-paid weekend to a Symposium on Race at Princeton University where they will meet and engage with other Prize recipients from across the country. Prize recipients are recognized at ceremonies in their local regions by Princeton alumni.
Do you know a high school student who is doing outstanding volunteer work in the area of race relations? Please fill out this form so that we can encourage them to apply for the Princeton Prize in Race Relations. Students can apply directly by using this link.
All About Health
Monkeypox is a rare, but potentially serious, viral illness that can be transmitted from person to person through direct contact with body fluid or monkeypox lesions. There is a vaccine available, albeit in limited amounts. DC Health’s site for registering for Monkeypox vaccinations and receiving more information can be accessed here.
Annual Flu Shot
DC residents can now get their free flu shots, booster shots, KN95 masks, take-home COVID tests, as well as a new self-administered PCR test all in one place. DC has 8 Covid Centers around the city-one in each Ward. Head to your most convenient location to access what you need.
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