News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – April 3, 2017

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: two California lawmakers are pushing for universal health care and starting to pull details together but many questions remain unanswered. California human service agencies and partners have seen the trend for months, and now national organizations are reporting it too: immigrants who are legally eligible for public assistance are turning away the help out of fears of deportation. In our section on stories about homelessness, read about two different women – one in Southern California, the other in the Bay Area - unexpectedly homeless late in life after getting swept up in financial crisis, even after years of trying to provide for themselves. Plus, read how CWDA and other child welfare organizations are working to make child care more accessible to resource families eager to open up their homes to children in foster care under AB 1164. 

Health Care

California lawmakers release details on universal health care bill | Mercury News | March 30, 2017

An ambitious proposal to create a single statewide insurance plan for every Californian — including undocumented residents, seniors on Medicare and people who now get their health coverage through work — began to take shape on Thursday when two legislators released details about what services would be covered and who would run the giant program. Still missing, however, are the details that have bedeviled universal health care advocates for decades: how much it would cost taxpayers. And the plan will be difficult, if not impossible, to execute without permission from Washington to steer billions of federal Medicare and Medicaid dollars into a trust fund that covers everyone.

Ryan says House to revisit health care, offers no details | Associated Press | March 28, 2017

Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday he’s going to give battered House Republicans another crack at a health care overhaul. But he offered no timeline, and leaders haven’t resolved how to overcome the deep GOP divisions that crumpled their legislation last week in a humiliating retreat for themselves and President Donald Trump.


Deportation Fears Prompt Immigrants To Cancel Food Stamps | NPR | March 28, 2017

Groups that help low-income families get food assistance are alarmed by a recent drop in the number of immigrants seeking help. Some families are even canceling their food stamps and other government benefits, for fear that receiving them will affect their immigration status or lead to deportation. Many of the concerns appear to be unfounded but have been fueled by the Trump administration’s tough stance on immigration.

Trump’s Anti-Immigrant Policies Are Scaring Eligible Families Away From the Safety Net | The Atlantic | March 24, 2017

As the evening rush hour peaked, Blanca Palomeque stationed herself by the carts selling roasted corn, tamales, and ice cream at the exit to the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue subway stop in Queens. She spotted a woman pushing a baby in a pink stroller and tugging along two school-aged girls with pigtails. “Excuse me, good afternoon, how are you?” Palomeque said in Spanish. “Do you have food stamps for your children? Here is some information.” She pushed a flyer into the mother’s hand before rushing over to a pregnant woman to speak with her as well. Palomeque repeated this process over and over again until the trains became less crowded, urging mothers and fathers and grandparents to look into their eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Medicaid, for themselves, for their children, for a friend, for a neighbor. Palomeque works for Make the Road New York, a nonprofit that provides legal aid, community organizing, and language classes to working-class New Yorkers, many of them immigrants. With Donald Trump in the White House, she told me, the tenor of her outreach has changed. 


Once middle class, she hung on as long as she could. Now she and her two dogs live in a car in Carlsbad​ | Los Angeles Times | April 1, 2017

“Three straight nights I slept in the front seat,” said Edythe Russell, who is creeping up on 80. “My knees hurt so bad, I couldn’t do a fourth.” That’s when Russell scrunched an air mattress into the cargo area of her scuffed-up PT Cruiser and began sleeping there, with one dog on either side of her for companionship and warmth. She avoids liquids in the afternoon to limit the number of times she has to crawl out in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom… The battery of her Chrysler conked out in the parking lot of the Carlsbad Senior Center, where Russell dropped anchor almost three weeks ago. The gas tank is flat empty. One tire is low and the air mattress leaks. Russell falls asleep hoping she’ll be safe through the night, and trying to figure out how to get back to the life she had…  Eleven years ago I wrote about a woman named Lee who was living in her car with her dog, spending her days at the El Segundo library. She got some help and has been living in a motel for years now. When I heard about Russell, I drove down to Carlsbad to meet her, and found out she’s not the only homeless senior citizen in the relatively affluent San Diego County beach town. “Right now I’ve got about a dozen women who come in regularly,” said Jack Risley, nutrition supervisor of the Senior Center.

Elderly woman tries to make sense of eviction from longtime home | San Francisco Chronicle | March 31, 2017

Three weeks ago, Dorothy DeBose was given 10 minutes to vacate the house she’s lived in for most of her life. The 76-year-old retired phone company employee was slow gathering what she needed because she kept thinking about the cat she feeds in the backyard. She called her nephew, Omar Taylor, who lives in the unit attached to the house. Taylor was confused. He called the eviction specialist the family had hired to delay DeBose losing her home until the eviction could be challenged in court… Oakland’s housing crisis is more than skyrocketing rental prices. DeBose, who was trapped by a risky pay-option mortgage, fell behind in payments and had her house snatched so quickly that she didn’t learn the house had been foreclosed and sold until the eviction process began.

Homeless families turned away for lack of space in South LA shelters | KPCC | March 27, 2017

Homeless families can’t get into overflowing shelters in South Los Angeles and that’s spurring local officials to look into some unconventional options for getting families off the streets. Since November, when the L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) started keeping track, 170 families have been turned away when seeking crisis housing in L.A. County for lack of space. County officials have taken some steps to alleviate the problem. They put an extra $90,000 into motel vouchers available to families through the 211 help line. They’re adding a handful more shelter spots through nonprofits in South and Southeast L.A. And the L.A. County Board of Supervisors passed a measure, authored by Supervisor Janice Hahn, that freed up some funds held for permanent housing for families to be used for crisis housing as well. Those strategies have been effective in most of the county, said Josh Hall, LAHSA’s family system integration manager. But not in South L.A. 

Child Welfare

Bill aims to make being a foster parent easier | KPCC | March 29, 2017

A statewide effort to get California’s foster kids out of group homes and into placements with families has hit a speed bump: a shortage of foster parents. A bill up for debate by the Assembly budget committee Tuesday seeks to address that gap. The bill, AB 1164, would provide foster parents with immediate childcare for the young kids they take in. In Los Angeles and around the state, lack of child care is one issue that’s created a shortage of slots for babies and toddlers removed from their homes.  Some foster children are eligible for publicly subsidized childcare, but waitlists to get in can be long, and foster parents, in the meantime, have few options. “They have to pay out of pocket,” said Cathy Senderling-McDonald, deputy director of the County Welfare Directors Association of California. “Or they would potentially have to quit work and stay home in order to care for a child.”

Temporary Los Angeles County Jobs Offer Former Foster Youth Pathway to Employment | Chronicle of Social Change | March 31, 2017

Employment outcomes for youth transitioning out of foster care are less than hopeful, but the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is looking to a new pilot program to change that. A California study found former foster youth to be 56 percent less likely than their low-income counterparts to be employed at age 24. For this population, finding employment is crucial… Half of youth in foster care who age out of the system end up homeless or incarcerated. Nichols-Julien said that to support these young people they need, “employers specifically seeking to hire, train and retain former foster youth.”

Child Sex Trafficking

Victims, advocates help pull human trafficking out of the darkness in Stanislaus County | Modesto Bee | April 2, 2017

When she was 12, Brianna Williams was a driven, young entrepreneur who wrote a 30-page business plan for her future party-planning endeavor. But by the time she was 15, she was being trafficked by a man more than twice her age and had forgotten all the dreams she once had of owning her own business. “I know people have this stigma that human-trafficking victims come from a bad background, but I came from a pretty good background,” Williams said. She never imagined she would be sold for sex or that human trafficking was even something that existed in the United States. “I knew nothing about it until it was too late,” she said.

To submit stories for inclusion in CWDA’s weekly Media Memo, email Sarah Jimenez. County staff and others not currently receiving the Media Memo directly can sign up on the CWDA website at the bottom of the home page.