SEARAC in California
The SEARAC California Office opened its doors in July of 2005. Numerous reasons brought this about, including the fact that over a third of the Southeast Asian American population resides in California. But the main impetus for SEARAC's expansion to a California office was the result of a series of focus group discussions with local community based organizations and leaders from underserved populations, such as elders and people living with disabilities. During these discussions, it became clear that SEARAC could do more to leverage the collective power of Southeast Asian American communities locally to be an even stronger voice. SEARAC's role would not be to duplicate the great work that local organizations were already doing, but to take it one step further by connecting advocacy with community organizing. Today, the SEARAC California office focuses its work on these two areas.
California Advocacy Program
The California Advocacy Program consists of analyzing, advocating for and educating community members about various public policy issues that impact Southeast Asia Americans living within California and beyond. The California Advocacy program has centered on several key policy issues within the last year, including:
- The California state budget;
- The passage and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act; and
- Social Security and other supplemental benefits for elders.
In addition, the California Advocacy Program is involved in coordinated efforts alongside colleagues in the Washington, DC office to focus on issues involving comprehensive immigration reform, deportation, Supplemental Security Income, and the Older Americans Act. SEARAC has also recently been active in California on foreclosure issues, conducting focus groups and interviews with community based organizations and individuals to assess the impact of the foreclosure crisis on Southeast Asian Americans in the Central Valley.
Building Resources, Insuring Growth for a Healthy Tomorrow (BRIGHT)
SEARAC’s community organizing work in California further develops the capacity of local community based organizations to engage in systemic and long term advocacy efforts. To this end, SEARAC partners with the Hmong Health Collaborative and several other community partners to ensure the successful participation and inclusion of the Southeast Asian American community in healthcare reform implementation. The three goals of this program are:
- To educate and train community stakeholders to participate in the state implementation process of healthcare reform;
- To educate communities about healthcare system changes from the new policies; and
- To enroll community members into healthcare programs.
The BRIGHT Program is supported by The California Endowment.
Healthy Aging Program
SEARAC's Healthy Aging Program provides California-based Southeast Asian American community organizations with training and technical assistance in order to improve their work with elderly community members. The program also advocates on healthy aging policy priorities and fosters civic engagement between SEA elders and elected officials. This program is supported by The California Wellness Foundation.