News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – August 26, 2016

Media memo

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Legislation: Child Sex Trafficking

Debate: Under CA bill, minors would be shielded from prostitution charges (recording available online) | KPCC Air Talk | August 22, 2016

SB 1322 would forbid law enforcement from arresting or charging people under 18 for prostitution… Frank Mecca leads the County Welfare Directors’ Association of California, a nonprofit representing human services directors in the state. He says there are existing ways to protect victims of sex trafficking without criminalizing them… “They’re child abuse victims. Police, under the law, have not just the authority, but the responsibility, to detain victims of abuse.”

New law to protect juveniles caught in prostitution - Long Beach police already knew the painful truth behind child exploitation | Signal Tribune | August 25, 2016

There had already been a turning point a few years ago when the Long Beach Police Department was told that officers could arrest pimps for human-trafficking crimes. However, Sgt. Eric Hooker, who serves in the police’s vice field-investigations section, described in a phone interview another critical moment for his department. They needed to ask an important question: Why were prostitutes selling themselves on the street in the first place? “And it sounds like such a basic premise,” Hooker said, “but before then, there was no need to talk to them about it, because all we were doing was arresting them.”.. SB 1322, a state bill submitted by Calif. Sen. Holly Mitchell, aims to decriminalize prostitution for kids under 18.

California lawmakers advance bill to decriminalize prostitution for minors | Los Angeles Times | August 18, 2016

A controversial bill that would decriminalize prostitution for minors squeezed out of the California Assembly on Thursday and is now headed back to the Senate for a final vote. SB 1322, authored by Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), would make the crimes of solicitation and loitering with intent to commit prostitution misdemeanors inapplicable to children younger than 18. 


Child Sex Trafficking

Human-trafficking sweep leads to 153 prostitution-related arrests and rescue of 10 sex-trafficking victims | Los Angeles Times | August 17, 2016

A multi-agency crackdown on human trafficking in Los Angeles led to 153 prostitution-related arrests and the rescue of 10 victims forced into the sex trade, police said Wednesday. Operation Summer Rescue, which began Aug. 10 and ended Saturday, focused on the rescue and recovery of children who were being sexually exploited throughout Los Angeles County. “Human trafficking continues to plague our society and victimize our youth,” the Los Angeles Police Department said in a statement. Eight of the sex-trafficking victims were minors between the ages of 15 and 17, and two were adults, police said.


Psychotropic Medications & Foster Youth

Two California bills to protect foster youth pass Assembly | Mercury News | August 18, 2016

Two pieces of legislation that would address solutions to California’s foster care system’s reliance on psychiatric medications easily passed the Assembly floor Thursday, while a third bill that would complete the package will be voted on next week. Senate Bill 253, by state Sen. Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would create a more rigorous process for the prescribing of psychotropic drugs to foster children. Senate Bill 1291, by state Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, would require better transparency and tracking of mental health services for foster kids in every California county. Both bills now return to the Senate, and if they succeed there, will head to Gov. Jerry Brown, who must either veto the bills or sign them into law.

California foster children overprescribed psychotropic drugs | Capital Public Radio | August 24, 2016

A state audit is highly critical of the way state and county departments monitor the prescribing of psychotropic medications to children in foster care. The California State Auditor reviewed statewide data and case files from Los Angeles, Madera, Riverside and Sonoma, and found some foster children were prescribed psychotropic medications in amounts and dosages that exceeded state guidelines.

Similar story: There’s not enough oversight of psychotropic prescriptions for foster kids, KPCC


Child Welfare

California court helps kids by healing parents’ addictions | Kaiser Health News | August 16, 2016

At 10 a.m. on a recent Wednesday morning, a line of parents pushing strollers filed into a conference room at the Sacramento County Courthouse in California. They sat at rows of narrow plastic tables, shushing their babies and looking up at a man in a black robe. Hearing Officer Jim Teal sounded his gavel. “This is the time and place set for Early Intervention Family Drug Court,” he began, gazing sternly at the parents who sat before him. “Graduation from this court is considered a critical factor in determination that the children of participants will be safe from any further exposure to the danger and destructive impact of parental substance abuse.” There has been a surge recently, across the U.S., in the number of children entering the foster care system after years of decline. Nationally, roughly 265,000 kids entered foster care in 2015 — the highest number since 2008, according to a recent government report. Substance abuse is a factor in up to 80 percent of cases where a child is removed from a home.


Housing & Homelessness

Affordable housing proposal ‘dead’ for year, Assembly leader says |Sacramento Bee | August 18, 2016

Attempts to craft an end-of-session affordable-housing package are “dead” for the year, Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon said Thursday, saying there continues to be intense opposition to Gov. Jerry Brown’s proposal to relax local land-use rules in return for $400 million for housing projects.


Homelessness & Youth

Transgender and homeless: How a 23-year-old is trying to get back on her feet | Los Angeles Times | August 17, 2016

Growing up in Fresno, Kaleef Starks always knew she was a girl. At school, she hung out with the girls. She wore a shirt on her head to symbolize long hair. She played with Barbie dolls. Her family didn’t see it that way, though. “I was told, ‘You’re a sissy, … you’re a transvestite,’” she said. “It all kept coming back to me and my gender, and that’s why my family has so much anger toward me.” Starks’ parents split when she was young. She and her brother went in and out of foster care, living with their father on the run-down west side of Fresno after he won custody of them. Starks said her father’s conservative roots prevented him from accepting her transgender identity. It was, she said, a constant source of emotional and physical conflict… Despite her hardships, Starks was one of the lucky ones. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, there are 3,447 homeless young people ages 18-24 in Los Angeles County.


Health Care

Fewer Californians were uninsured in 2016, but medical costs remain a concern for many | Los Angeles Times | August 18, 2016

Nearly three-quarters of Californians who didn’t have health coverage before the Affordable Care Act are now insured, yet many are still concerned about their medical expenses, according to a report released Thursday. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey tracking the state’s uninsured population found that 72% of those without insurance in 2013 had a health plan in 2016. That’s a small increase from the 68% who had coverage last year and 58% the year prior.

Concord ‘Obamacare’ call center to close at end of year | Mercury News | August 16, 2016

Contra Costa County’s call center to help people enroll in Affordable Care Act “Obamacare” health care coverage will close at the end of November — six months sooner than anticipated because of a 70 percent cut in state funding. On Tuesday, the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved speeding up a shutdown plan for the Concord call center, originally scheduled for June 30, 2017, as called for earlier by the California Health Benefit Exchange, known as Covered California.