Award ceremony held by Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – Earlier this Wednesday December 8, The Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families (RICCF) held their seventh annual meeting alongside a virtual award presentation.

“The pandemic revealed both the needs of and disproportionate barriers faced by the children, youth, and families that our membership serves,” notes Tanja Kubas-Meyer, Executive Director of RICCF. “We are honored to represent our members, who work every day in every Rhode Island community to help families access resources like housing and heating assistance, as well as providing services including special education, mental health and substance use treatment, healthcare, early intervention, childcare, family preservation, foster care, and adoption or support in transitioning to independence. ”

The Legislative Champion Awards went to legislators who addressed service issues for Rhode Island’s children, youth, families in foster care, in need of behavioral health services, and those with disabilities.

The first award went to Representative Julie A. Casimiro and Senator Louis P. DiPalma for the Foster Youth Academic Progress Act. The law requires superintendents to create annual reports on foster care children. If the child is struggling academically or frequently receives discipline from school, the superintendent is required to create a plan to solve the problems. 

“During the Pandemic and subsequent necessary lockdown, telemedicine was critical for maintaining the stability of hundreds of clients who were able to visit with their psychiatrists and other professionals who prescribe medication as well as receive ongoing therapy and case management services,” said Benedict F. Lessing, President/CEO of Community Care Alliance and Co-Chair of the RICCF Children’s Behavioral Health Committee during the award presentation. “Given the Coronavirus variants and community members who remain unvaccinated , telemedicine remains an essential behavioral health tool and means of reducing isolation for the people we serve.”

The second award went to Senator Josh Miller and Representative Stephen Casey for the Telemedicine Coverage Act. This legislation helps the delivery of health care services  with two-way communication, protected rates, and Medicaid eligibility for telemedicine. 

Finally, The Prevention of Families with Disabled Parents Act was recognized, with awards given to Representative Terri-Denise Cortvriend and Senator Louis DiPalma for not letting a disability of a parent serve the basis for denial or restriction in matters involving welfare, foster care, family law, guardianship, and adoption. 

In presenting the award, Tanja Kubas-Meyer noted, “This law protects children and the rights of the parents to parent.  After much work by the sponsors and advocates with the Rhode Island Family Court and Department of Children, Youth, and Families, we are so pleased this legislation has successfully become law and to have the opportunity to recognize the sponsors.” 

Awards were also presented to five other human service apprentices,  A founder award was given to Willam Lyttle, President and CEO of the Key program who helped develop the coalition and will be retiring in January. 

Categories: News, Politics, Providence, Regional News, Rhode Island