News on Human Services Programs, Legislation & the People We Serve – September 9, 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.

Health Care

California’s Healthy Kids Programs Fade As Undocumented Children Gain Access To Medi-Cal | California Healthline | September 7, 2016

Baby Sergio’s fever was spiking. His parents had just arrived in Watsonville from Mexico with no papers, no money, no family, no friends. They tried bringing down the fever. It didn’t work. The baby started convulsing. An ambulance whisked the terrified young family to a local hospital. There, a social worker met with them. “Don’t worry, Señora,” the social worker told Maria as she signed up Sergio for a program called Healthy Kids. She handed the anxious mother an insurance card. Maria believes that little card saved her son’s life repeatedly over the next several years, allowing him to have regular check-ups and paying for crucial surgeries and medical care. A 15-year effort by dozens of California counties to insure undocumented children like Sergio is drawing to a close this summer. Healthy Kids programs around the state were created to serve children who didn’t qualify for Medi-Cal and couldn’t afford other insurance. But these programs have been rendered largely redundant by a new law guaranteeing full Medi-Cal coverage to every child in the state whose family income falls below 267 percent of the poverty line, regardless of immigration status.

Sex Trafficking

Orange County a big, lucrative market for sex trafficking | Orange County Register | September 9, 2016

A new report has led those who work with victims of human trafficking to an unsavory conclusion about Orange County’s wealth: Perpetrators know they can bring victims here to sell for sex acts at a higher price than anywhere else in California. “Whatever the price in Los Angeles County, whatever the price in San Diego County, it’s going to be twice the price in Orange County and it’s going to be worth the trip for them,” said Lita Mercado, an administrator with the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, which will release its annual report today. This is the fourth year that the task force, a partnership of law enforcement, service providers, nonprofits and faith organizations, has produced its Human Trafficking Victim Report.

Child Welfare/Well-Being

L.A. County Looks to Ridesharing, Faith-Based Programs to Improve Family Visitation for Foster Kids | Chronicle of Social Change | August 31, 2016

In an ambitious upcoming board motion, a pair of Los Angeles County Supervisors aim to tackle two of foster care’s most fundamental challenges: re-unifying children with their parents and retaining quality foster parents. Supervisors Sheila Kuehl and Michael Antonovich’s comprehensive vision encompasses a wholesale revamping of the county’s efforts to ensure that foster children have timely and meaningful visits with their biological parents. But improving “family visitation” is a tall order in a county with 20,000 miles of road and nearly 18,000 foster children and youth.

Screening Mental Health In Kindergarten Is Way Too Late, Experts Say | NPR | September 9, 2016

When it comes to children’s brains, Rahil Briggs describes them as … sticky. ”Whatever we throw, [it] sticks. That’s why they can learn Spanish in six months when it takes us six years,” says the New York City based child psychologist, “but also why if they’re exposed to community violence, or domestic violence, it really sticks.” Briggs works at the Healthy Steps program at the Montefiore Comprehensive Health Care Center in the South Bronx, screening children as young as 6 months for mental health issues. That may sound young, too young maybe, but that’s when some experts believe it’s important to catch the first signs that something may be wrong. Many say waiting until kindergarten is too late. So Briggs sees a lot of babies at the Healthy Steps program, but the crying doesn’t seem to faze her at all. Visiting with baby and parent, she watches the way they interact…. What can interfere with that learning? Things like divorce, neighborhood violence and poverty. And sometimes the signs are right in front of us. Briggs says half of all children with mental illness show symptoms before they turn 14.

County Budgets

Sacramento County’s final budget ramps up social services funding | The Sacramento Bee | September 7, 2016

Social services took center stage in the final $3.9 billion budget adopted Wednesday by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors. Since the board approved the recommended 2016-2017 budget in June, county staff increased department budgets by $18.5 million, with the lion’s share going to the Department of Health and Human Services… The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services received an $11.4 million bump from state and federal funds for a variety of programs and dozens of new positions. Forty-two full-time positions were added to the Child Protective Services division, 12 to Senior and Adult Services and 10 to Behavioral Health services.