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
50 New Student Wellbeing Centers
I’m very happy to report the unanimous passage of a motion to create a new partnership between Los Angeles County’s Health Agencies, Planned Parenthood of Greater LA, and our local school districts to establish Student Wellbeing Centers in 50 high schools throughout the County.
Currently, only 15 high schools in LAUSD and very few schools in other districts offer comprehensive health services. Even fewer provide reproductive healthcare or treatment for substance use disorders. High schoolers are the childhood age group who are most likely to miss out on necessary healthcare, so these Student Wellbeing Centers will help close a significant gap in healthcare in LA County.
The SWCs will provide STI testing, birth control, referrals for substance use disorder treatment, support groups for students with physical and mental health concerns, and other mental health services. Additionally, the SWCs will take an active role on campus by leading health education and training peer leaders to advocate for healthy lifestyles in their schools.
They’ll be located in schools with high student need for healthcare and will begin opening next school year.
Incarceration Working Group
I was pleased to appoint two impressive individuals, Eunisses Hernandez, and Robert K. Ross, to the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group.
Los Angeles County’s jails are frequently described as the nation’s largest mental health institution, with approximately 70% of prisoners reporting a mental health and/or substance abuse disorder. However, studies show incarceration does little to help these conditions, and in fact, can exacerbate symptoms. LA County is investing in diversion and anti-recidivism efforts, including establishing the Alternatives to Incarceration Working Group. This working group is tasked with developing a plan to reduce incarceration and recidivism rates based on national best practices, and to consider all appropriate alternatives to jail, including greatly expanded community placements, treatment options, housing supports, and a mental health hospital.
An advocate for social justice and racial equity and a champion for civic engagement, Eunisses Hernandez has lobbied for key California ballot measures, including Proposition 64 and the felony reclassification initiative Proposition 47. She successfully led the campaign to eliminate key sentencing enhancements by passing the RISE Act in 2017. She was also a member of the LA County LEAD Stakeholders group, helping advise the County in its efforts to implement Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion.
Dr. Robert K. Ross leads The California Endowment (TCE), a health foundation established in 1996 to address the health needs of Californians. An experienced clinician and public health administrator, he has focused on the health needs of underserved Californians by championing the cause of health coverage for all children, strengthening the capacity of community health centers, improving health services for farm worker and ex-offender populations and strengthening the pipeline for bringing racial and ethnic diversity to the health professions.
Improved Care for Foster Youth
In response to a successful pilot program by the County’s Department of Children and Family Services to improve our strategies for caring for foster youth, the Board passed a motion this week to fund new programs for the kids in our care.
Before the pilot program, foster children with serious emotional or mental health issues often faced long term placement in group homes. The pilot implemented a new model called Residentially Based Services that reduced time spent in group homes by providing intensive individualized treatment and prioritizing permanent placement with well-supported resource families.
The pilot did more than give foster kids stability, security, and opportunity. Fewer, shorter placements in group homes also saved the County money that we’re now reinvesting in our foster youth. This week’s motion will fund a range of new programs at these Short Term Residential Therapeutic Programs and group homes including gardening, culinary training, and paid vocational internships.
Rim of the Valley
The Board passed a motion I authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger to send a five-signature letter to the Los Angeles County Congressional Delegation asking them to support Rep. Adam Schiff’s bill, The Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act.
The bill would incorporate approximately 191,000 acres, referred to as the Rim of the Valley, into the existing Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, expanding the area and bringing important federal assets to areas previously excluded from a host of resource opportunities. The proposed expansion would include Griffith Park, the Santa Clarita Valley, and the Santa Susana Mountains, as well as much of the Los Angeles River. If passed, the Rim of the Valley Corridor Preservation Act would authorize the National Parks Service to build or improve existing trails and roads, carry out ecosystem monitoring, and take part in conservation and recreation planning. It would also allow the NPS to fund natural resource protection efforts in the area.
During my tenure in the State Senate, I pushed for and secured the protection of critical wildlife corridors and watersheds with over $80 million of land acquisitions for the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. I am heartened to see other representatives continuing the critical work of securing access to natural spaces, and improving the quality of life of LA County residents for generations to come!
Rubberized Repairs in Topanga Canyon
The Board gave the Department of Public Works approval to begin seeking bids for the Old Topanga Canyon Road Improvement Project.
This project will include resurfacing Old Topanga Canyon Road, from Valdez Road to Topanga Canyon Blvd., with rubberized asphalt, as well as the installation of guardrails. Construction is slated to begin August 2019.