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Advocacy for Low-Income Children with Disabilities in California 2019


Speaker(s): Amy G. Chen, Angie Schwartz, Jessie Conradi Slafter, Jill Rowland, Priscilla Huang, Sam Paneno
Recorded on: Apr. 17, 2019
PLI Program #: 252578

Amy Chen is a senior staff attorney in NHeLP’s Los Angeles office, where she conducts research, advocacy, and education on reproductive health access and services at the state and national levels. Her California specific work includes insurance coverage for contraception and pregnancy, expanding access to family planning and abortion services, and opposing religious restrictions on reproductive health care. Her national work includes leading NHeLP’s efforts to address systemic barriers to comprehensive pregnancy care. She is currently working on a project exploring state and federal options for Medicaid coverage of doula care. Before joining NHeLP, Amy worked at Bay Area Legal Aid in Oakland, California for eight years, where she provided direct legal services to individuals and families across the San Francisco Bay Area, and advocated on a wide range of issues including health care reform, Medi-Cal, Covered California, and private health insurance.


Angie Schwartz is Policy Director at the Alliance for Children’s Rights, where she works to improve the well-being of children living in poverty and those placed in foster care or at-risk of dependency. Angie has been instrumental in shaping California’s child welfare system, spearheading key reforms including the extension of foster care to age 21; revamping foster care to be fully inclusive of kinship families; overhauling the state's foster care rate system to be based on a child's needs; and improving access to disability benefits for young people in foster care. She is a trusted advisor to state and local agencies on state and federal funding strategies, a leader on thoughtful implementation of Continuum of Care reform laws, and a leading voice in advocating for relative caregivers in state and federal child welfare reform. Angie has served as lead and co-counsel in impact cases aimed at securing appropriate benefits and supports for vulnerable children and families. She is the author of many articles exploring the intersection of child welfare, poverty, and safety net programs. Angie graduated Magna Cum Laude from American University, and earned a J.D. with distinction from Stanford Law School.


Jessie Conradi Slafter, M.S.W., J.D., is a Mental Health Attorney and Social Worker with East Bay Children’s Law Offices and a partner on the statewide organization Parents & Caregivers for Wellness. Jessie provides specialty representation to foster youth who have profound mental health needs, are at risk of sexual exploitation, or who also have open delinquency cases. She brings a social work background, having practiced family therapy with delinquency youth for several years prior to attending law school. Jessie has worked with adolescents in various settings for over a decade and utilizes a trauma-informed approach to her representation, training, and relationships.


Jill is the Director of the Education Program at the Alliance for Children's Rights, a nonprofit legal services organization dedicated to ensuring that children have the safe, stable homes, healthcare, and education they need to thrive. In her role, Jill provides direct representation of foster youth in special and general education matters, as well as improving outcomes for system-involved youth through local and statewide policy creation and implementation. Jill is an expert in every area of education impacting foster youth, including early intervention, special education, general education, school discipline, and interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline. Jill’s vision has grown the Alliance’s Education Program in response to the needs of our clients: from pioneering legal representation for early intervention services to addressing the unique trauma-related education needs of foster and probation youth. Her collaborative approach led to the creation of the Foster Youth Education Toolkit and its Court Companion, the training of thousands of school district and foster/probation system personnel (including social workers, probation officers, attorneys, and judges), and improved foster youth policies now put into practice in multiple school districts. Jill is passionate about providing foster and probation youth with an equitable education, so they can succeed in college, work, and life. She earned her JD at UCLA School of Law, specializing in Critical Race Studies. She majored in Communication and Sociology at UC Santa Barbara. She has practiced special education law since 2004, initially at a private firm before joining the Alliance in 2006.


Priscilla Huang is a Senior Attorney in the National Health Law Program’s Los Angeles office. She focuses on reproductive health and justice issues in Medicaid and the private insurance market.

Priscilla has a background in reproductive justice, racial and ethnic health disparities, and immigrant health care access. Prior to joining the National Health Law Program, Priscilla was a consultant and senior advisor with the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, where she spearheaded various federal interagency efforts on improving language services and data collection and reporting. Before that, Priscilla was the senior director of impact strategies at the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, where she served as the organization’s primary policy strategist and oversaw its Affordable Care Act implementation advocacy efforts. Priscilla was also the Policy and Programs Director at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, where she led their federal advocacy efforts on reproductive justice, immigrant rights, and anti-human trafficking.

Priscilla has served on several boards and advisory committees and has been recognized for her leadership by the National Immigration Law Center, Families USA, the Congressional Black Caucus Health Braintrust, and others. Priscilla received her JD from American University, Washington College of Law, where she was one of ten Public Interest/Public Service Scholars. She received a BA in English and Philosophy from Boston College.


Sam received his JD from UC Davis, where he also obtained a BS in Psychology. Sam suffered a college football injury that almost took his life and left him permanently physically disabled. His positive outlook during this time surprisingly garnered the attention of national media and organizations, leading to several distinguished awards. Ultimately, Sam’s injury served as the catalyst for joining his passion for social justice with the desire to assist disabled children. Prior to joining the Alliance, Sam ran a private special education practice and spent a year as a school district attorney.