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.
Funds for Bringing Families Home
This week the Board passed a motion I authored allowing the Los Angeles County Development Authority to accept stopgap funding from the State for its Bringing Families Home Program.
Sometimes children come into the child welfare system for reasons that do not involve abuse or neglect, but simply because their family has fallen into, or is at risk of, becoming homeless. The Bringing Families Home Program supports children and families who are involved in the child welfare system and experiencing homelessness, with the understanding that foster care placement should be a last resort. The goal of the program is to reduce homelessness, increase family reunification, and avoid involving the child or children in the foster care system unless absolutely necessary. To achieve this, the program provides rental assistance, helps families locate housing, and links them to supportive services where appropriate.
Keeping families in housing means keeping families together. This funding helps struggling families retain stability and unity so they can maintain a beneficial environment for their child or children.
Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity Data
I am very pleased that we passed a motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger requiring the County’s Medical Examiner/Coroner to aggregate data related to gender identity and sexual orientation. The motion directs the Medical Examiner-Coroner to develop a plan to begin collecting this data and including results in their reports, with a specific focus on LGBTQ suicide rates, violent deaths, and hate crime incidents.
LGB youth are nearly 5 times as likely to have attempted suicide as heterosexual youth, and 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. Additionally, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four transgender people have been assaulted simply because they are transgender. These statistics are alarming, but the motion just adopted is a step toward changing them. We can only begin to make effective changes when we pay more attention and shine a light on a population that we know is experiencing negative experiences disproportionately.
By collecting data on gender identity and sexual orientation, our Medical Examiner-Coroner, along with important stakeholders, can help us create a fuller picture of the disparities in mortality rates for this community, and ultimately, guide us as we continue to develop policies that uplift and support LGBTQ individuals in ways that meaningfully address their needs.
Voting Solutions for All People
Bringing us one step closer to a full rollout of the new voting system in 2020, the Board passed two motions this week, one proclaiming September as “Voting Solutions for All People (VSAP) Month”, and the other encouraging County employees to serve as vote center leads or workers during the election.
The VSAP project was developed by the Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) in 2009 to address an aging voting system and an increasingly large and complex electorate. Under the VSAP system, neighborhood polling locations will be replaced with “voting centers”. Any eligible voter can cast their ballot at any voting center, regardless of where they live. The voting centers will be open for 11 days in order to fulfill the County’s goal of providing ample time for voters to cast their ballot. The Voting Solutions for All People project is also trying to make voting easier for people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.
To ensure that the County can identify and address any issues with the new voting equipment, RR/CC is conducting a Mock Election on September 28-29 from 10 AM to 4 PM. The mock election will be light and fun, participants can vote for items like their favorite sports team, park or music venue! I encourage all residents and County employees to participate in the Mock Election, learn more about the new VSAP system, and make sure you are registered to vote for the real thing in 2020!
Opposition to Expanded Detention of Migrant Children
Last month, the Trump Administration notified LA County that it is searching for local sites to detain migrant children. In response, the Board passed a motion by Supervisor Hilda Solis, that I co-authored, firmly expressing the County’s opposition.
LA County vehemently refuses to play any role in efforts to separate immigrant families and put kids in cages, actions that are horrifying and deeply shameful for this country. We urge the Federal Administration to focus their time, energy, and resources on reuniting migrant children with their families, relatives, and guardians as quickly as possible.
The motion will:
• Inform the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that LA County vehemently refuses to help identify County properties that could be used for the detestable detention of migrant children.
• Bar all County departments from directly communicating with HHS or any other federal agency regarding the lease or sale of any County property for immigration enforcement purposes.
• Send a five-signature letter to the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to express LA County’s firm opposition to terminating the protections established under the Flores Settlement Agreement.
• Instruct County Counsel to join or file amicus briefs in support of litigants challenging the Trump Administration’s termination of the Flores Settlement Agreement and the inhumane treatment of children in related lawsuits.
The sub-par conditions of these detention facilities and the irreparable harm staying in them can do to children, is well documented. This Board must, and will, do everything in our power to block the Trump White House from continuing, much less expanding, these despicable practices that are just the opposite of decency, and American and human values.
Community Impact Arts Grants
The Board of Supervisors approved Community Arts Impact Grants for 58 different organizations, totaling $750,000.
The Community Arts Impact Grant program supports arts programming taking place at nonprofit social service and social justice organizations, municipal departments, and institutions of higher education. The money granted to these organizations will help to enable these organizations to deliver a wide variety of cultural services to County residents.
It is important to support nonprofits that incorporate the arts into their missions. Art that is accessible to all is vital for a thriving civic society, and artistic expression can help bring attention to the many important issues facing our County.