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.
CalFresh Awareness Month
We kicked off this week’s Board meeting by proclaiming May 2018 as CalFresh Awareness Month. The CalFresh Program serves as a significant resource in preventing food insecurity — defined as “the lack of reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, nutritious food.”
One of the more damaging myths out there is that increasing CalFresh participation will cost California taxpayers more money. Thankfully, this is NOT true! CalFresh is an entitlement program and is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture under the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP.) Another myth is that receiving CalFresh will affect one’s chances of becoming a U.S. Citizen, but because CalFresh is not considered welfare or cash aid recipients, this is also false.
To remove the many barriers that discourage residents in need of food assistance from applying, the Department of Public Social Services (DPSS) has launched #ChooseCalFresh, an aggressive social media, and community outreach campaign to increase CalFresh participation.
We want to see more of our eligible constituents #ChooseCalFresh to help meet their nutritional needs, so the County is working with community-based organizations to spread accurate information and bust myths about the CalFresh program. DPSS will host the campaign kickoff event at Hubert H. Humphrey Comprehensive Health Center. Medical professionals will perform screenings for malnutrition and other health problems related to poor diet, and patients are referred to appropriate resources such as CalFresh, WIC, and classes that focus on food management. All participants are given an opportunity to apply for CalFresh immediately.
A Countywide Plan for the Arts
We have emphasized many times the ways in which a quality education in the Arts can build cross-cultural understanding, teach critical-thinking skills, and contribute to the economy by developing innovation and creativity. Art enables our constituents to express themselves, develop their communities and beautify their neighborhoods.
These potential benefits make it essential for all schools in LA County to have a plan, and a budget, for art education. I am very proud that every school in the 3rd District has an Arts Education programming plan, and I want to see this trend expand throughout the county.
In 2002, the Board of Supervisors established the LA County Arts Education Collective, which works to align efforts across the region so that LA County’s 1.5 million public school students can receive a well-rounded education that includes the arts. The current Regional Plan for Arts Education was developed in 2002, but studies have shown that ongoing inequities in our education system continue to serve as barriers to participation in art learning.
The motion I co-authored with Supervisor Kathryn Barger directs the LA County Arts Commission to report back to the Board in 30 days with a process, plan, and budgetary needs for producing an updated Los Angeles County Regional Plan for Arts Education. By updating the plan, we are reaffirming our commitment to Arts Education and continuing valuable progress in making art accessible for all residents of LA County.
Foster Care and Family Connections
The month of May is National Foster Care Month, and this year’s theme is “It’s All Relative: Supporting Kinship Connections.”
Our County has the largest child welfare system in the nation. In March 2018, the Department of Children and Family Services provided child welfare services to 34,205 children, with 21,030 placed in out-of-home care. Nearly one-fourth of the children placed in out-of-home care, 5,463, were placed with a relative or non-relative extended family member. In many cases, these relatives step up with little notice to care for their family member, all the while dealing with increased stress and hardship. These relatives ought to be commended — they are the backbone of foster care and the system could not function without them.
Concurrently, individuals and couples across LA County of various ages, genders, socioeconomic status, race and ethnicity, religions and sexual orientations are fostering. Whether the placement is short-term or eventually adoptive, we need more residents in Los Angeles County to seriously consider whether they will decide to offer their home as a suitable and loving home for a foster child.
In addition to primary caregivers, other individuals serve as mentors, workforce coaches, college counselors, or members of a 501c3 board serving foster children. Each of these individuals can make a remarkable difference in the lives of the children they serve, and their willingness to spend their time and energy with our County children is deeply appreciated.
The motion I co-authored with Supervisor Hilda Solis not only proclaims May National Foster Care Month, but directs the Department of Children and Family Services to make materials widely available with information on fostering, adoption, and becoming a mentor.
Fighting for a Fair and Complete Census 2020
A critical motion was put forth by Supervisor Hilda Solis regarding the Trump administration’s recent decision to add a question regarding citizenship to the Census 2020.
There has not been a citizenship question on the census since 1950 because previous administrations recognized that such a question would stifle response rates in states with high immigrant populations and lead to inaccurate data, thereby hurting all Americans. Let’s be clear- this addition does not in any way lend itself to the constitutional requirement of a fair and complete count of all persons residing in the United States of America. The only objective is to weaponize the Census against diverse areas like Los Angeles County by fostering fear among our immigrant communities. It is a blatant and perverse politicization of what is supposed to be a non-partisan Census.
An incomplete count not only hurts our immigrant communities, it hurts all people residing in Los Angeles County and the State of California, and in other inclusive states like Texas and New York. An inaccurate count can affect congressional representation and the Electoral College and puts billions of dollars in federal funding for vital items like public schools and infrastructure improvements at risk. This means that as a resident of this county and state, no matter where you come from or whether you vote red or blue, an inaccurate count will dilute the power of your community to be heard and receive desperately needed funding.
We will not sit quietly while this administration attempts to punish California and every other state in this great nation that upholds the American value of welcoming immigrants with open arms. This week, the Board voted to instruct our County Counsel to join California Attorney General Xavier Becerra’s lawsuit opposing the addition of the citizenship question. We believe the action of adding the citizenship question will lead to an inaccurate Census 2020, so we are joining the fight to ensure a fair a complete count of all residents as outlined in the Constitution.
Developing a Path for Instituting Probation Oversight Commission
Progress was made this week towards establishing an independent commission that will oversee reforms in the Department of Probation.
In February of 2016, I co-authored a motion with Mark Ridley-Thomas titled “Exploring Best Practice Models in Probation,” which focused on assessing the Department of Probation structure and operations with the goal of making recommendations for improvement. The county hired a consultant group, Resource Development Associates, who submitted their final report with recommendations in February of 2018. A few months later in April, the Chief Executive’s Office delivered a report outlining a plan to establish an independent Probation Oversight Commission.
The motion passed this week by Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Hilda Solis moves us closer to developing the Probation Oversight Commission, which will oversee the implementation of various reforms and encourage public accountability for the Department of Probation. The motion directs the CEO to develop a staffing and funding plan for a permanent Probation Oversight Commission, as well as create guidelines for who should serve on the Commission.
The Probation Oversight Commission will ensure that the Department of Probation is conducting their work transparently and in a manner consistent with public accountability. This week’s motion was an essential step towards establishing the kind of practical oversight that will help the Department fulfill its mandate of rehabilitating and reintegrating the constituents they serve.