Friends, neighbors –
It’s been another packed week at the legislature! So many of you have called, emailed, and come all the way Olympia to talk about the issues most important to you, our families, and our communities. Together, we’re fighting for affordable college and the training needed for family-wage jobs, reproductive freedom, and health care access for each and every one of us.
Spotlight: Supporting student parents
We know that higher education is not equally accessible to families across the state. For some, the high cost of tuition stands in the way. For others, the application fees keep them from applying. Sometimes students don’t realize that college is even an option for them. And once students are enrolled, the challenges standing between them and graduation don’t go away.
This week, I introduced a bill to help remove one of those barriers for student parents. There are 46,000 students at our state’s community and technical colleges who have children. Right now, many of those student parents don’t have access to child care. My bill, SB 5341, will remove the requirement that community and technical college students work 20 hours per week in order to qualify for assistance with childcare.
I’ve talked to student parents from our district and around the state, and I’ve heard their stories about how hard it is to keep up with classes, assignments, bureaucracy, being a parent, AND on top of that, working 20 hours a week just so that they can qualify for child care subsidies.
We know that access to high-quality child care improves parents’ performance in school and provides long-lasting benefits for kids. We should allow these students to focus on their studies and their families, so that they can make progress toward rewarding careers.
Introducing our staff
Kali Chargualaf, our session aide, is often the first point of contact for those of you who call the office or come in. She grew up in Suquamish on the Port Madison Indian Reservation and just graduated from Western Washington University in December!
Kali enjoys the face-to-face contact of talking with constituents as well as mentoring and working with the young people who serve as pages. She likes passing on to the pages the insights she’s been gaining herself. “This being my first session at the legislature, everything is a learning experience,” Kali said. “All my colleagues have been so helpful.”
She particularly appreciates the input that constituents and agencies give on the bills before the legislature. “It’s great to see that people are taking steps to interact with their Senators about potential laws that are being considered.”
Some of the issues under discussion have hit home for Kali. “We met with a person who works in treatment services, and it was a really helpful conversation on both sides. I have family and friends who have been involved with treatment facilities. I learned a lot, and I was also able to share my knowledge about how best to interact with indigenous communities.”
One of the most valuable moments, Kali says, was when she attended the caucus meeting with Tribal leaders. She saw familiar faces, including Chairman Leonard Forsman of the Suquamish Tribe, to which she belongs, and Claudia Kauffman, who was the first Native American woman elected to the Washington State Senate. Kauffman was also Kali’s scholarship donor at WWU. “It was inspiring to see them and realize that one day I could have a seat at the table.”
This week in Olympia
I believe in transparency, and I want to keep you all informed about what I’m doing on behalf of the 26th District in Olympia. That’s why I’m making a practice of posting my calendar each week on Facebook. You can see last week’s calendar here.
Keep in touch
We are all eager to hear from you about your priorities. I hope you’ll follow me on Facebook so you can see what we’re up to. And please feel free to reach out anytime at 360-786-7560 or Emily.Randall@leg.wa.gov. The more we hear from you, the better our work in Olympia can reflect our shared values and goals.
All my best,