News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – January 6, 2017

Media memo

In this edition of the CWDA Media Memo: KPCC takes an in-depth look at the rise of homelessness among CalWORKs families and the effect on children; counties have an urgent need for resource families just like Dominique Soileau, a Sonoma County foster mom who shares what becoming a part of a child’s life has meant to her and her encouragement to those thinking about becoming a foster parent; California continues to analyze and understand what an ACA repeal would mean for people and the economy; and finally, learn about a unique program tackling loneliness among seniors.

Homelessness & Poverty

Broke: Why more California families are becoming homeless | KPCC | January 5, 2017

Daejanae Marshall remembers waking up in a panic before 5 a.m. Something was wrong. She was 22 and a new mom. And baby Zah’Nyah was her world. “I had promised myself there’s things I was going to do while I was pregnant,” she said. “And after meeting my baby, I was like: I have to get us a place. You have to have your own room.” Marshall was homeless. She had a job at a movie theater and cash assistance from the state, but that didn’t cover rent. They were living in a shelter in Boyle Heights, hoping one of Los Angeles’ scattered non-profits would find them a subsidized apartment. Despite the disruption, Zah’Nyah had been doing well. But that Tuesday morning, Marshall awoke suddenly to find Zah’Nyah wasn’t breathing. Marshall jumped to action… An autopsy would turn up no illness that could explain it. Zah’Nyah’s death was reported as Sudden Unexplained Infant Death and the medical examiner noted “co-sleeping” as a factor. The shelter didn’t have a crib… Frank Mecca, head of the County Welfare Directors Association of California said it’s been clear to him for years that family homelessness is rising as a direct result of the state legislature and the governor systematically de-funding cash welfare for families in California.

California’s housing affordability problems ‘as bad as they’ve ever been in the state’s history,’ housing director says | Los Angeles Times | January 3, 2017

California’s housing affordability challenges remain daunting and continue to increase, according to a draft report from the state’s Department of Housing and Community Development released Tuesday. The report found:

  • Housing production over the last decade fell more than 100,000 new homes short of demand and continues to lag, leading to surging prices at all income levels.
  • The state’s homeownership rates are at their lowest since the 1940s.
  • One-third of the state’s renters spend more than half their income on housing costs.
  • California has 12% of the nation’s population, but 22% of the country’s homeless population.

For Homeless Families, Finding a Home is a Give-and-Take | KQED | December 22, 2016

When classes let out for the day at Bessie Carmichael Elementary in San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood, Principal Tina Lagdamen high-fives each boy and girl and says the same thing, over and over again: “See you tomorrow.” This seemingly simple phrase is an important reassurance for many of these kids, Lagdamen explains. Roughly 80 families at this school are homeless, which translates to more than 100 children here who are living in shelters, couch-surfing with family and friends, or even sleeping in cars…There are nearly 2,000 homeless schoolchildren in San Francisco. Earlier this month, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee made a bold promise to get most of them — and their families — into permanent housing by 2020. To do it, he’s asking schools to refer homeless parents to Hamilton Families, a local nonprofit.

New Law: Repeal Of ’90s Welfare Rule Takes Effect | Capital Public Radio | January 2, 2017

As of Jan. 1, California no longer prevents additional welfare payments for families who have more children while receiving state aid, removing a rule that called discriminatory and invasive. The 1994 rule known as the “maximum family grant” was expressly promoted at the time as a way to discourage people on welfare from having more children. It included exemptions for mothers who tried sterilization or permanent intrauterine contraception, and they failed–or in cases of rape.

Child Sex Trafficking

No, California Democrats didn’t ‘legalize’ child prostitution | The Sacramento Bee  | January 2, 2017

A misleading column about a new state law by an Orange County lawmaker has sparked inaccurate online reports taking off on Facebook. Assemblyman Travis Allen, R-Huntington Beach, wrote a piece for the Washington Examiner under the headline “California Democrats legalize child prostitution,” which has been cut and pasted by a variety of partisan websites as the basis for their false claims… Allen is referring to Senate Bill 1322, by state Sen. Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, which decriminalizes prostitution for minors by barring officers from arresting people under 18 for soliciting sex or loitering with intent to commit prostitution. It generated significant legislative debate over whether the new approach is sound public policy, but it is false to say the law “legalizes” child prostitution in California… It’s also wildly misleading to equate decriminalizing minors with law enforcement not being allowed to interfere with minors engaging in commercial sex acts. Under the law, officers who encounter minors doing so must report the circumstances to the county child welfare agency as abuse or neglect.

Free workshops in Yolo County examine sex trafficking of children | The Davis Enterprise | January 4, 2017

It’s been called an “unholy alliance” — the alarming link between foster care and sex trafficking. California Against Slavery Research and Education reports that between 50 and 80 percent of children sold for sex in California are involved with the child welfare system. This statistic highlights the disturbing connection between foster children and the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the fastest growing and second most profitable crime worldwide, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services… he Foster and Kinship Care Program will explore the connection between foster care and commercial sexual exploitation of children at two upcoming programs on Wednesdays, Jan. 11 and Feb. 1.

Continuum of Care Reform

As foster care program revamps in Sonoma County, families urgently needed | Press Democrat | December 27, 2016

Dominique Soileau humbly admits she and her husband, Kevin McPherson, have big hearts ­­— but she insists they aren’t any bigger than most. Five years ago, when a doctor told them that birthing a child would require a medically invasive procedure, the young west county couple started thinking about adopting a foster child. Soileau and McPherson, who years ago took in and raised a goddaughter from birth, knew they could love a child that wasn’t “biologically our own.” But like many others, they had misconceptions about what the foster care system was looking for. Did they have enough money? Were they normal enough? Did they have the patience and empathy to care for child who would possibly require special attention and an extra amount of love? The answers to those questions came with time, after permanently taking in Kymber, who turns 5 years old next month, and Bella, 3 — both adopted as infants… The need for more couples like Soileau and McPherson has become even more urgent. Beginning in January, counties are expected to start phasing in statewide foster care reforms that recast group homes as short-term residential treatment programs, establish new levels of provider accountability and bolster supportive services for youths placed with relatives and foster families. 

Group homes for foster children on way out in California | Ventura County Star | December 30, 2016

Group homes will be phased out starting Jan. 1 in Ventura County and across the state under an initiative to overhaul foster care. Operators of about a dozen small county group homes serving foster youths generally have two choices: close or convert into short-term residential treatment facilities. Children may stay for up to 180 days in the residential programs before being discharged to a family setting with some exceptions. Some administrators of group homes in the county applaud the intent of the plan authorized by the Legislature but are struggling with how to implement it.

Health Care

Cutting Obamacare will hurt a lot of Trump voters in California | San Francisco Chronicle | January 4, 2017

As Republicans in Congress start dismantling Obamacare, they run the risk of hurting a particularly vulnerable population in California: a whole lot of people who voted for Donald Trump. In 49 of the state’s 58 counties, nearly 1 in 4 residents is enrolled in Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, which the Affordable Care Act helped to expand, according to a study by the nonpartisan California Budget and Policy Center. On election day, Trump won eight of the 15 counties with the highest percentage of Medi-Cal clients. Places like Kern and Tulare counties, which are far from the wealthy — and largely Democratic — coastal areas that have benefited from the tech-driven recovery.

Study predicts ACA repeal would result in 3,000 lost jobs in Stanislaus County | The Modesto Bee | December 27, 2016

A research center predicts that repeal of the Affordable Care Act would eliminate more than 200,000 jobs in California and impact the state and local economic picture. In a study released last week, the UC Berkeley Labor Center said that counties such as Stanislaus with large populations in the Medi-Cal program would be hardest hit. Stanislaus would lose a projected 3,000 jobs, while 4,000 job losses are predicted for San Joaquin County. The center concluded that 135,000 of the 209,000 jobs eliminated statewide would be in the health care sector, with hospitals, physician offices, labs, outpatient centers and dental offices shedding staff members as consumers lose insurance coverage or Medi-Cal eligibility.

California hopes $3 billion experiment will improve health of neediest | California Healthline | December 26, 2016

Riverside County plans to connect former inmates with health clinics and social services. Orange County hopes to get homeless residents into housing – and help them stay there. Placer County is opening a respite center where homeless patients can go after they leave the hospital. Those are just some of the pilot projects in a $3 billion experimental effort officials hope will improve the health of California’s most vulnerable populations. The effort is a recognition that improving people’s health will take more than just getting them insured… The projects are designed to blend physical care, mental health care and social services for the participants, who are among the neediest and costliest in the state.


Keeping Lonely Seniors Company Can Help Keep Them Healthy | Kaiser Health News | January 5, 2017

Emil Girardi moved to San Francisco on New Year’s Eve in 1960. He loved everything about the city: the energy, the people, the hills. And of course, the bars, where he mixed drinks for most of his adult life. About 10 years ago, the 83-year-old New York native had a stroke and collapsed on the sidewalk near his Nob Hill home. Everything changed. “I didn’t want to go out of the house,” Girardi said, adding he only felt comfortable “going from the bedroom to the dining room.” He started to fear the city’s streets — and growing older. An out-of-state friend worried about his isolation and called a San Francisco-based nonprofit called Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly. The organization works to relieve isolation and loneliness among the city’s seniors by pairing them with volunteers.


Trump presidency puts California Legislature in defense mode | Associated Press | January 2, 2017

As California lawmakers return to Sacramento on Wednesday, liberal dreams of expanding safety-net benefits and providing health coverage to immigrants are giving way to a new vision revolving around a feverish push to protect gains racked up in the past. After years of pushing forward a progressive agenda, legislative Democrats will be pushing back against conservative policies from President-elect Donald Trump and the Republican Congress. Instead of expanding Medi-Cal health coverage to adult immigrants who can’t prove they’re legally in the country, Democrats are now concentrating on how to retain health coverage for those who already have it. And anti-poverty groups are focused on preventing cuts to food stamp and welfare programs rather than trying to expand them as planned.

Number of Women in California Legislature Dips to Nearly 20-Year Low. Now What? | KQED | December 30, 2016

For a lot of women, this was supposed to be a big political year. The year a woman would be elected president and provide some long coattails for other women to grab onto. But, as we now know, Hillary Clinton came up short in her bid for the presidency. And state legislatures around the country saw the number of female representatives either drop or remain flat. So is it time to throw out the playbook on getting women to run for office and start over? Government professor Jennifer Lawless says: Not so fast.

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.