News flash! Every week, following the Board meeting, Supervisor Kuehl picks five items you might find interesting, important, and/or fun. It’s your way to get a quick rundown of several highlights of the meeting in no more than 5 minutes! Looking for more? Click here to get the entire agenda.
Curbing the Effects of High-Cost Loans in LA County
With unaffordable rents, stagnant wages and the increasing costs of basic necessities, households can be so overwhelmed by financial challenges that they sometimes find themselves forced to seek assistance from high cost “payday loan” stores just to stay on top of the bills. Last year, the Board of Supervisors created the Center for Financial Empowerment in our Department of Business and Consumer Affairs in order to improve financial literacy and security in the County, but many families are still turning to high interest loans (sometimes as high as 350% APR!) and suffering the negative impacts.
I am pleased to report on a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Solis that will instruct the Department of Consumer and Business Affairs to research best practices on consumer protections from high-cost loans. The motion will also assess the feasibility of mapping locations of these payday loan stores in unincorporated areas of the County. Recommendations include implementation of a comprehensive outreach plan on available financial support resources in the County, an awareness campaign in neighborhoods where low-cost loan stores are common, and providing multilingual educational materials on the real price of these loans to residents.
Renewing Health Agency Integration Advisory Board
In August of 2015, we approved the creation of a Health Agency to create operational collaborations among the Department of Health Services, the Department of Mental Health, and the Department of Public Health. We also convened a temporary Integration Advisory Board (IAB) that would serve in an advisory and reporting capacity to the Agency for two years.
These departments have expressed general satisfaction with the Health Agency, stating that it has increased overall collaboration and communications. However, reports also show a need to increase staff and implement a formal structure for the Agency, and recommend close oversight as they work to achieve these goals.
Therefore, Supervisor Ridley-Thomas and I presented a motion at Tuesday’s meeting that will direct the County CEO to continue the IAB through December 31, 2018. The IAB will operate in its current form and provide semi-annual reports on the impact of the Health Agency on overall activities, operations, and achievement of outlined priorities.
Mental Health Resource Database
Back in August, we directed the Department of Mental Health (DMH) to take a look at the database of resources that the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) uses to help it link clients to available resources. At the time, there was no central database that DMH staff could use to tell them which resources, including open beds in mental health treatment facilities, were available for their clients.
I was pleased to sign on as a Co-author to a motion by Supervisor Barger that will instruct the DMH to prepare a plan on the development and implementation of a database, similar to the system that DCFS employs, that will help DMH provide our clients with access to vital resources in a more timely manner. Creation of this centralized, comprehensive system will help ensure coordinated access, optimize client flows, and reduce the risk of delays and errors in client treatment. It will also help improve the County’s ability to provide residents with access to a quality continuum of care and empower DMH to engage clients and link them to the best treatment options for their needs.
More Support Services for Asian Pacific Islander Youth
Increasing support and resources for our vulnerable foster youth is monumentally important to this Board. Therefore, I am glad to report that we approved a request from our Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) that will expand available resource families in the County for Asian Pacific Islander youth.
We authorized DCFS to execute a contract with Korean American Family Services, an organization with a proven track record of success, on recruitment, training, and support services for API families in the County. The agreement allows them to recruit resource parents who can house foster youth, and provide culturally and linguistically competent training to available families. This contract supports the County’s continuum of care reform efforts that stress the positive effects of placing foster youth in a home environment as the first and best option.
Amending the County Audit Committee
The LA County Audit Committee was created back in 1983 to ensure public transparency and to show the efficacy of audit work through improving communication and the ability to make informed recommendations to various County departments.
At Tuesday’s meeting, we approved a recommendation to amend Title 3 of the County Code, which outlines the purpose and responsibilities of the Audit Committee. The proposed amendments will review all prior Board actions, orders and motions related to the Committee to combine all of these into a new County Code section that will ensure it is current, comprehensive, and permanent.