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.

Photo: The County’s Human Relations Commission honored the Youth Organizing arm of Pacoima Beautiful this week, Youth United Towards Environmental Protection, for their outstanding commitment to helping meet the challenges of climate change right here in LA County.

Continuing on the Path of Reform

This week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas to strengthen oversight and improve accountability at the Sheriff’s Department.

This motion was necessary to accomplish two key items. First, the Civilian Oversight and newly-adopted Probation Oversight Commissions will mirror each other in the ability to access data, documents, and, when needed, compel the production of requested items. Secondly, this motion will specifically require County Counsel to provide draft amendment language for the Office of Inspector General and Civilian Oversight Commission ordinances to help the Board in expediting the process of expanding oversight power.

This action comes on the heels of a series of reform measures, as the County moves towards a more transparent and equitable justice system.

County Youth Climate Commission

I am very pleased that this week, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis that lays the groundwork for a County Youth Climate Commission!

More than any other group, our young people will be forced to live with the consequences of our action, or inaction, in preventing, and coping with, climate change. They deserve a voice as we shape sustainability and climate resiliency policy. The Chief Sustainability Office will report back to the Board in 60 days on the next steps in establishing this commission, which will consist of five youth leaders from each district.

In the past few years we have witnessed a deluge of young activists like Greta Thunberg, Mari Copeny and the Parkland students, fighting for progress on the issues that affect us all. I am proud that the County will be doing its part to support and cultivate youth engagement in matters that directly affect their future.

Limiting Single-Use Plastic

Continuing the focus on sustainability and environmentally conscious policy, the Board passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Janice Hahn that examines our options for limiting single-use plastics.

Single-use plastic products create a considerable amount of waste across the County, mainly food service ware such as clamshell containers, cups, bowls, plates, utensils, and straws. These products are typically single-use and do not biodegrade, creating an intractable waste management problem as they accumulate either in landfills or as litter on streets and in our waterways. Part of the OurCounty Sustainability Plan includes a short term goal to phase out single-use plastics, including in County contracts and facilities. This week’s motion takes the first steps to accomplish that, calling for a study on the use of single-use plastics, a draft ordinance, exploration of recycling options, and mitigation measures to ease the transition for local businesses.

So much of what makes Los Angeles special can be found at our beaches and with our wildlife. This action and other green solutions outlined in the OurCounty Sustainability Plan will help us preserve them for future generations.

Evaluating DPH Programs

This week we approved a contract with the UC Regents to evaluate the Department of Public Health’s opioid abuse prevention and treatment services, as well as a program called CenteringPregnancy.

LA County reported an average of 464 accidental opioid-related deaths per year from 2011-2017. DPH has developed a broad, multifaceted, and coordinated opioid prevention strategy to reduce the toll of the opioid crisis on our residents and maximize health and well-being. The goals of these programs are to prevent opioid use, reduce deaths from overdoses, and provide easy access to treatment programs. The multi-pronged strategy includes public messaging, utilizing the statewide prescription drug monitoring program CURES, expanding Medi-Cal coverage for treatment, establishing Family Resource Centers, harm reduction, and much more.

Centering Pregnancy brings small groups of women all due at the same time together for their prenatal care. In addition to medical checkups and one on one time with their providers, women participate in group discussions and activities, where they can share their experiences and gain knowledge about proper nutrition, common discomforts, stress management, labor and delivery, breastfeeding, and infant care. The program can help address racial disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes, moving us toward equity in prenatal healthcare.

At the County, we strive towards excellence, which requires continuous assessment and adjustment. These evaluations will give us insight into how these programs are working and if there is any potential for improvement.

Phones for Foster Youth

In an increasingly digital world, more and more opportunities are contingent upon reliable access to the internet. When foster youth don’t have access to a working cell phone with dependable service they can miss out on employment and educational opportunities, which is why I am so pleased that the Board passed Supervisor Solis’ motion implementing Phones for Foster Youth Program.

In April 2019, the California Public Utilities Commission allocated $22 million for the nonprofit iFoster to implement the Phones for Foster Youth Program, a pilot project under the Federal Communications Commission’s LifeLine program. This program, in partnership with Boost Mobile, will provide a free smartphone – complete with a stable service plan, wireless internet, and mobile hotspots – to approximately 33,000 current and former youth between the ages of 13 and 26 across the state of California.

In addition to opening the door for economic and educational opportunities, addressing digital disparities among foster youth allows them to connect socially and establish support networks. Having a phone that is similar to that of their peers is just one more way we can move foster youth towards the normalcy they desire and deserve.