Shirley Weber receives March of Dimes 2015 Legislative Award
Sacramento, California | Friday, May 22, 2015
MARCH OF DIMES CALIFORNIA HONORS ASSEMBLY MEMBER DR. SHIRLEY WEBER FOR HER WORK IN LEADING FULL RESTORATION OF BLACK INFANT HEALTH FUNDING TO 2014-2015 STATE BUDGET
Legislative Champion Award to Be Presented During March of Dimes Annual Volunteer and Staff Day of Advocacy and Awareness at the Capitol
(Sacramento, May 13, 2015): Assembly Member Dr. Shirley Weber (D - San Diego) received the 2015 March of Dimes Legislative Champion Award on Wednesday, May 13. Dr. Weber received the award before nearly one hundred March of Dimes volunteers and staff at our annual day of advocacy and awareness. Volunteers were here to educate legislators about March of Dimes mission investments and key 2015 legislative initiatives. Dr. Weber is the 4th recipient to receive this prestigious recognition.
Assembly Member Shirley Weber accepts the 2015 March of Dimes California Chapter Legislative Champion Award from Gail Margolis, Chair of the March of Dimes California Advocacy and Government Affairs Committee and Vice President of Government, Business & Community Relations at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles; and by Karyn DeMartini, State Director of March of Dimes California Chapter.
Assembly Member Shirley Weber was recognized for her leadership in restoring funding to California’s Black Infant Health Program while she was chair of the Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health and Human Services during the 2014 legislative session. “The 2009-10 funding cut had a devastating effect on Black Infant Health local programs,” said Karyn DeMartini, State Director of March of Dimes, California Chapter. “Black infants are twice as likely to die in the first year of life as all other infants born in California,” said Karyn DeMartini. “African- American women have the highest preterm birth rates in California at 13.7%, significantly higher than the 2013 state preterm birth rate of 8.8%.”
The Black Infant Health Program is a successful evidence-based program. For example in Fresno County, the first nine years after the Black Infant Health Program was implemented, the County’s Black infant mortality rate decreased from 37.1 per 1,000 live births to 11.4.
The 2009-10 funding cut had a dramatic impact on Black Infant Health programs: 55 staff lost their jobs and 6,000 fewer women were served. Riverside and San Bernardino Counties were forced to close their Black Infant Health programs. In Fresno County, in 2011 the Black infant mortality rate rose to 27.3 deaths per 1,000 live births.
“Thanks to Assembly Member Weber’s leadership, she was able to support Black Infant Health funding through the final conference committee budget. Many public health restorations did not make it through the conference committee negotiations and we thank her for her commitment to this critical issue,” said Gail Margolis, Chair of March of Dimes California Advocacy & Government Affairs Volunteer Committee and Vice President of Government, Business & Community Relations, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The final budget passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor included 100% restoration of the $4 million in state general funds for Black Infant Health.
In the months since the funding was restored, both Riverside and San Bernardino Counties are moving forward with reopening their Black Infant Health programs and Black Infant Health programs around the state have been able to hire additional staff to help them serve more women. March of Dimes anticipates an improvement in African-American preterm birth rates once the Black Infant Health local programs return to full operation.
Past March of Dimes Legislative Champions Recipients in California
2014 – Senator Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) for leading efforts as Chair of the Senate Health Committee to expand access to and improve the quality of health care for women and children
2013 – Assembly Member (now Senator) Marty Block (D-San Diego) for authoring and getting signed into law AB 1731 in 2012 to require newborn screening for critical congenital heart disease (CCHD)
2012 – Assembly Member (now Senator) Richard Pan (D-Sacramento) for authoring and getting signed into law AB 395 in 2011 to require newborn screening for severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID)
About March of Dimes
Each year nearly 4,000,000 babies are born in the United States and March of Dimes touches each one of them through research, education, support, and advocacy. With chapters nationwide, March of Dimes works to improve the health of babies by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality. Premature birth and its complications are now the leading global cause of death for children under five years old. Premature birth costs the United States more than $26 billion annually, according to the Institute of Medicine. For the latest resources and information, visit marchofdimes.org or for resources in Spanish, nacersano.org. Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. A wealth of educational video resources is available on our YouTube channel.
About March of Dimes California
California is one of only five states to receive an ‘A’ grade on the Preterm Birth Report Card, hitting a 24-year low in the rate of premature birth. Still, there is more work to be done, as one in eleven babies are born too soon in California. In 2014 the March of Dimes funded $8 million to California research institutions and $4 million to the March of Dimes Prematurity Research Center at Stanford University. Our legislative advocacy efforts in 2014 resulted in 10 new bills being passed with a focus on helping all babies have a healthy start in life.
About March of Dimes
March of Dimes leads the fight for the health of all moms and babies. We support research, lead programs and provide education and advocacy so that every baby can have the best possible start. Building on a successful 80-year legacy of impact and innovation, we empower every mom and every family.