Support of Youth in Foster Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Recently, Governor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Order N-53-20, which authorizes additional support for children and families in the foster care system to ensure that they don’t get left behind in the rapidly changing new normal of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This week, the Board passed a motion authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger that ensures we can effectively leverage this support.

The motion instructs the Director of Children and Family Services, in partnership with other relevant parties, to report back to the Board in one week, and bi-monthly after that, with an implementation plan on the order. The Executive Order allows for virtual visits between social workers, potential resource families, and emergency child placements. It also increases payments to Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs and provides foster youth with cell phones to contact social workers, relatives and other support, in cases that have not been dismissed.

Responding to Sheriff’s Budget Requests

Last October, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis calling for a hiring freeze and deficit mitigation plan for the Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to reign in ballooning and alarming growth in their deficit. The motion was carefully constructed to impose fiscal responsibility while preserving the department’s duty to provide public safety by putting aside a portion of supply and capital funds until a plan was presented. Since then, the department has had weekly meetings with the CEO to discuss financial strategies, but has not produced requested documentation nor demonstrated significant progress in reducing their deficit.

Tuesday’s motion, on which Supervisor Solis was my co-author, released a large amount of the sequestered fund to allow the Department to respond to the COVID-19 crisis and move ahead with critical programs.

All of our departments, including the Fire Department and the Public Health Department, are operating within budgetary limits even during the COVID-19 crisis, and the Sheriff must do so, as well.

For more details on the Board’s unanimous decision, click here.

West LA Civic Center

In very exciting news, the Board passed my motion allowing the County to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Los Angeles for the joint development of the West LA Civic Center/Courthouse.

The Courthouse property has been vacant for many years, and the City property has been in operation since 1968. Through community feedback, we have heard interest in creating amenities that would serve the community’s needs, such as affordable housing, open space, and additional parking. This is an opportunity for the City and County to actively respond to community members’ requests for improved public facilities and amenities.

The City will also be bringing a motion in front of its Council for approval. If it is approved, we can move forward toward redeveloping this property for a number of important public uses.

Creating a Safe Recreational Vehicle Pilot Program

Of the thousands of people experiencing homelessness who live in their vehicles, 50% live in RV’s. While the County has made great strides in implementing Safe Parking, these lots do not accommodate RV’s, leaving a significant portion of the homeless population without a place to rest safely.

In response to this need, the Board passed my motion to explore a Safe Recreational Vehicle Pilot Program, which would be located in Van Nuys. The lot is owned by the Army Corps of Engineers and operated by LA City Recreation & Parks.

This week’s motion is the result of collaborative efforts with our federal and city partners from the offices of Senator Diane Feinstein and Councilman David Ryu.

Expanding COVID-19 Testing in Congregate Living Environments

At this week’s Board meeting, we passed a motion I co-authored with Janice Hahn, calling for a high-level strategic plan to expand access to testing in congregant living environments.

Congregate living environments, like skilled nursing facilities, homeless shelters, long term care, assisted living, and Board and Cares, make it challenging to implement physical distancing and infection control. Asymptomatic staff can unknowingly spread the virus, and those who live in these environments are the populations most at risk for severe, life-threatening cases of COVID-19. We must protect both the residents and the staff of these facilities, so we need a comprehensive plan to scale-up testing.

This motion directs the Department of Health Services and Department of Public Health to report back to the Board with a strategic and implementation plan for expanding testing and managing staffing, supply, and quarantine/isolation space issues in congregate living environments.

General Election 2020 Vote By Mail

While COVID-19 has understandably been on the forefront of all of our minds, we absolutely cannot lose sight of the monumentally important 2020 General Election.

The current pandemic has raised a great deal of uncertainty, and the current physical distancing requirements may be extended. It is imperative to anticipate the extra challenges that could arise in the General Election. This motion, which I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn, ensures the County will mail a ballot to all registered voters so that everyone has the option to vote-by-mail and avoid crowded vote centers.

The motion goes on to instruct the Registrar-Recorder to work with Public Health to plan for in-person voting that protects both the voters and the election workers so that all residents can perform their civic duty without risking their health.

Safely Reopening & Economic Recovery

Like all of you at home, we are eager to see the light at the end of the tunnel and begin to rebuild and repair all the social and economic damage this pandemic has caused. However, how and when we do this must be guided by science and data, or we run the risk of undoing any progress we have made.

At Tuesday’s Board meeting, we passed two motions, both authored by Supervisors Hilda Solis and Kathryn Barger, with an eye towards safely reopening LA County, helping small businesses recover, and revitalizing the local economy.

The first motion directs all health departments to provide a report within seven days with details on measures needed for containment of COVID-19 and prerequisites for relaxing the Safer at Home Order. This will give some clarity on what needs to be in place before we can lessen restrictions at LA County, such as widespread testing and ensuring surge capacity at hospitals.

The second motion calls for an Economic Resiliency Task Force to develop recommendations for the County so we can leverage public-private partnerships and improve the economy, create jobs, and eventually return to full employment.