In the wake of the police and vigilante killings of unarmed African Americans—Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Elijah McClain to name a few—a recent Pew poll showed that approximately 67% of Americans now support
Black Lives Matter, a movement that seeks to end state-sponsored police killings of African Americans and seeks to stamp out racism against Black people wherever it exists.
While named brand companies have only recently acknowledged the horrors of racism and have just now started supporting BLM, Special Needs Network has vigorously supported the movement and its anti-racism policies since its inception. The principles of the movement are foundational to Special Needs Network (SNN). Since our founding in 2005, we have provided a voice to marginalized disabled communities of color throughout the state of California. As a part of our mission, we provide vital medical and therapeutic services to autistic and disabled people in underserved communities throughout Southern California. We fight against socio-economic inequality and advocate for criminal justice reform, health equity, and the equitable distribution of private and public resources—issues of utmost importance to the African American community.
We have a long history of fighting for racial justice and equality through our robust programs. As an organization at the forefront of policy advocacy, our dynamic campaigns are the cornerstones of our work. In 2011, we co-sponsored and helped pass California’s first autism insurance mandate bill (SB 946), which requires private insurance companies and MediCal plans to cover mental health and behavior services.
In 2012, in conjunction with First 5 of California, we launched two major advocacy campaigns—Equality for Our Kids and Stepping Stones. Equality for Kids ensures equitable spending on state social services while Stepping Stones is an early childhood program that is designed to improve the professionalism of early childhood providers and provide them with additional training on developmental disabilities in order to eliminate the diagnosis gap in children of color.
In the spring of 2021, in collaboration with the County of Los Angeles and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center, we will open the first-ever full-service developmental disability center in Los Angeles. This center will provide a medical home for thousands of African American and Latino children and young adults with autism, learning disabilities, ADHD, emotional and behavioral disorders, and other related developmental disabilities.
SNN is also proud to a part of a coalition of Black-owned, Black-led, and Black-serving organizations that are working together to address the issues of systematic racism through a funded initiative. Through this initiative, we have successfully trained more than 60 grassroots organizations and tens of thousands of individuals in effective grassroots organizing. We have provided these organizations and parent advocates with the tools to effectively develop and implement antiracist policies in communities throughout California.
The United States has never fully addressed the original sin of 250 years of chattel slavery. The ideology that established and maintained this institution has left an indelible stain on the fabric of this nation and is embedded in virtually every facet of American culture. Uprooting the systems of racism that are prevalent throughout our society is not easy work, nor is it for the faint of heart. This work can’t be done on a temporary or seasonal basis.
This work takes an unrelenting commitment, a steadfast determination, sizeable resources, and a sophisticated strategy and approach that few organizations can muster. Special Needs Network is up for the challenge. Under the strong leadership of our African American founder and President, along with the contributions of our diverse board of directors and staff, we have a solid track record of accomplishments, and working with committed private and public partners, stakeholders, and funders
We are hopeful that we can help lead California into a brighter future, one which is free of racism and all the inequality associated with it.