News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – September 2, 2016

Media memo

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.

Legislation: Child Sex Trafficking

Governor has Opportunity to Make it Clear: There’s #NoSuchThing as a Child Prostitute | CWDA Blog - Our Take | September 2, 2016

A 14-year-old girl is raped. Repeatedly. Law enforcement arrives on the scene. Officers determine there is reasonable cause the crime of rape occurred. This child has been raped and sexually abused by multiple people in just 24 hours. They then arrest … the child. Wait.  What?  Confused? This child is a victim of sex trafficking. She’s been found with a purchaser who paid a trafficker money to have sex with her. She’s been under the control of the trafficker for months. The shocking situation described here is real, and it happens because law enforcement in many California jurisdictions falsely believe they must arrest the child victim for prostitution. Instead of immediately being referred to child welfare services and community agencies who specialize in services for child abuse victims, child sex trafficking victims like this girl frequently are arrested and taken to jail for prostitution.


Family First Act

Congress Should Not Kill Lifesaving Options for Foster Youth | The Chronicle of Social Change | August 31, 2016

Jamal* is a teenager in foster care whom I met through an organization pairing Washington D.C. foster youth with volunteer mentors. He is a spirited young man who bounced through five foster homes in less than a year due to his defiant behavior. When I met him, Jamal had ended up at a Boys Town family-style group home and was finally happy, stable and doing well. If the supporters of the Family First Prevention Services Act have their way, the option of a supportive group home will no longer be available to most young people in foster care who cannot thrive in a family setting…The bill’s sponsors and supporters often cite a belief that most children do best in family settings. Yet, this is not always the case. Jamal is not the only young person who needed a group home to find the support and nurturing he needed.


Child Welfare

Sacramento County foster care agencies band together to help LGBT youths find homes | Sacramento Bee | August 28, 2016

Scott Dukes, a gay single man from Sacramento looking to adopt, got a call one day from his foster care agency. They had one question for him: If your teenage son came down the stairs of a mall in 6-inch stiletto heels, what would you do? The answer he was trained to give, he said, was to bring a pair of flat shoes along in his bag, in case his son’s feet hurt. The real answer? “If you’re going to wear those shoes, you’re going to wear them like a man,” Dukes, 40, told the case manager. “And you’re not going to whine and act crazy, because I’m not dealing with it.” His answer, the agency told him, was odd, but perfect. Sierra Forever Families introduced Dukes to his now-17-year-old transgender daughter, Erica Reyes, shortly after that 2012 phone call. The nonprofit adoption agency has been one key player in a citywide effort to create more of these success stories and place lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths in affirming homes. Sacramento County Child Protective Services and other local foster youth and adoption agencies formed a collaborative last year to increase recruitment of parents who are open to housing LGBT youth.



LA sheriff: Don’t arrest homeless, get them into services | KPCC | August 30, 2016

L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell unveiled a new policy Tuesday (August 30) evening, instructing deputies to avoid arresting the homeless and try to get them into services instead. The policy change comes at the behest of the L.A. County Board of Supervisors. Earlier this year, the board approved a 47-point plan to address homelessness in the county. In it is a recommendation that the sheriff’s department develop a comprehensive decriminalization policy for law enforcement to adhere to when interacting with the region’s homeless population. The board passed its package of reforms in February. Sheriff’s officials said McDonnell hopes to start training deputies in the new policy this fall and put it into effect January 1, 2017. ”Critics of law enforcement allege that society’s solution is to arrest our way out of this social problem,” McDonnell said Tuesday. “But our department is taking a firm stand that being homeless is not a crime.”



Even rivals say Mark Leno is one of Sacramento’s most accomplished lawmakers. Now, his time is up. | Los Angeles Times | August 29, 2016

Mark Leno flashes a broad smile when a conversation about his political legacy pivots to an earlier part of his life, when he was a restless young man who abruptly decided to walk away from rabbinical school without any plan for what would come next. “My friend gave me a T-shirt that year for Hanukkah that said, ‘Rebbe Without A Cause,’” Leno said with a laugh. To know him is to get the joke: This is a man full of causes, ones for which the Democrat has patiently and passionately advocated during a 14-year career in the California Legislature that’s now coming to a close.