SPRINGFIELD – To prevent poor dental health among children and teens that can cause lifelong health consequences, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) has passed a measure to allow preventative dental services within schools.

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“Routine dental care isn’t just about appearance – it’s about overall health and well-being that can affect every part of a child’s life,” Morrison said. “It’s time we treat dental care like other preventative health care.”

Under the measure, the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services could put in place a school-based dental program that would allow out-of-office preventative services – like teeth cleanings.

About 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 11, and about 13% of those between 12 and 19, have at least one untreated cavity, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Children who have poor oral health also often miss more school and receive lower grades than children who don’t.

“The best way to keep teeth healthy is through preventative dental care – but not every person has the means to go the dentist routinely,” Morrison said.

Senate Bill 346 passed the Senate Wednesday and now heads to the House for further consideration.

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HIGHWOOD – To bring more attention to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ new online reporting system and what signs to look for to protect children, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is hosting a webinar next week with DCFS and the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center.

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“The new online reporting system provides an easier and more efficient way to report child abuse and neglect,” Morrison said. “However, not enough people know how user-friendly the system is or when it should be used. My hope is this informational webinar will teach people about the signs of abuse and neglect, and when to make a report.”

Morrison is hosting a free virtual Lunch and Learn webinar to discuss the DCFS hotline and its new reporting platform. A representative from the Lake County Children’s Advocacy Center will also be in attendance to discuss what the organization does and how each person can help make a difference in the lives of the state’s at-risk children.

It will take place Friday, April 16 from 1 to 2 p.m. via Zoom. The event is the second installment of Morrison’s new Lunch and Learn series – a monthly virtual event to teach Illinoisans more about the work state agencies do and show off the great local attractions Illinois has to offer.

“If the pandemic has done one positive thing, it has showed us how easy it is to connect with each other virtually from the comfort of our homes,” Morrison said. “It has been a pleasure connecting with people from across the state through these events, and I can’t wait to continue to meet and inform more people as the year goes on – even after the pandemic subsides.”

The webinar is free, but registration is required. To sign up, visit https://bit.ly/3sImYy0.

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SPRINGFIELD – The price of EpiPens has greatly increased over the years, causing people with certain allergies to forgo purchasing the life-saving medication. State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) wants to offset the burdensome cost by requiring insurers to cover medically necessary epinephrine injectors.

“With increases in food allergies and other serious allergic conditions, people are relying on EpiPens more than ever,” Morrison said. “Nobody with a serious allergy should go without an epinephrine injector simply because they cannot afford one.”

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In 2019, Morrison passed legislation to require insurers to cover medically necessary epinephrine injectors – also known by the brand name of EpiPens – for minors. However, she wants to take the law one step further by removing the age limitation. Morrison introduced the EpiPen for all legislation last year, but it was stalled due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Epinephrine injectors deliver the drug epinephrine to individuals experiencing a severe allergic reaction. Epinephrine works by narrowing blood vessels and opening lung airways, reversing the symptoms of an allergic reaction that, if left untreated, could cause death.

“People are dying because they can’t afford EpiPens,” Morrison said. “That’s wrong.”

Senate Bill 1917 was filed last week. Morrison hopes to present it in committee soon.

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SPRINGFIELD – Following up on her promise to hold local health departments and other COVID-19 vaccine stakeholders accountable, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) led a Senate hearing Monday to receive updates on the statewide distribution plan.

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“Doses and distribution of the vaccine are ramping up, but we still have eligible people who have struggled to get an appointment,” Morrison said. “However, the number of people vaccinated and the promise from the federal government to increase supply have given me hope for the future.”

Last month, Morrison hosted a Senate hearing to get to the bottom of the confusing vaccination distribution process and call for a more comprehensive and timely plan. During the Feb. 11 meeting, she and other members of the Senate Health Committee raised concerns about the number of available vaccines and the competitive crowd.

Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike reassured the group people will receive their vaccines as quickly as possible. During Monday’s update, Ezike said more than four million vaccines have been administered in Illinois – an exciting milestone that has led to over 25% of adults getting their dose.

However, she also acknowledged in certain areas of the state – including suburban Cook County and rural areas – supply is lacking. She said she expects the number of doses to ramp up in the weeks to come. Additionally, she announced a rural vaccination program which will send mobile sites to certain communities this week.

While Morrison said she is pleased so many eligible Illinoisans have been vaccinated, she hopes to see the number grow exponentially in the weeks to come.

“The demand for the vaccine is higher than ever, but the number of doses available is continuing to grow,” Morrison said. “Thanks to the work of health department officials and the patience of Illinoisans anxious to receive their dose, we are the right track toward normalcy.”

Last week, the Lake County Public Health Department reported more than 50% of people over the age of 65 were vaccinated, and Cook County reported more than 65%.  

Any person who has questions about the vaccine or who is struggling to find an appointment is encouraged to call IDPH’s vaccine hotline at 833-621-1284.

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SPRINGFIELD – A continuous champion of human services legislation and measures to make the Department of Children and Family Services a better, more transparent agency, State Senator Julie Morrison (D-Lake Forest) is sponsoring a number of bills this legislative session to help the state’s most vulnerable population.

“As a senator, my number one priority is – and always will be – protecting our at-risk youth and providing them with opportunities to help their future’s soar,” Morrison said. “This year is no different. During this time of increased need, I hope to make DCFS a more transparent and successful organization.”

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To address numerous high-profile failures at DCFS over the last several, Morrison is spearheading Senate Bill 176. It would require DCFS to rollout Error Reduction Training in collaboration with the Child Protection Training Academy simulation model.

The Error Reduction Training will include classroom and web-based training. Initial training will include strengthening critical thinking, decision-making, interviewing, analytical, and problem-solving skills, as well as practice reviews and recertification. 

Under the measure, students can receive up to $10,000 a year for two academic years to pursue a social work degree. It encourages college students to stay in Illinois for work, increasing employment numbers and hopefully employment retention.

“DCFS desperately needs more highly trained workers who have the determination and emotional stability to take on one of the toughest jobs,” Morrison said. “By helping those who have a desire to assist, we are helping our children.”

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