Budget expands funding to combat homelessness and enhances child protection
Los Angeles County Supervisors unanimously adopted a $36.1 billion budget that significantly expands efforts to combat and prevent homelessness while also enhancing oversight and quality control within its child protection system, the nation’s largest.
The supplemental budget, the final phase in the County’s annual budget process, includes $72.8 million in voter-approved Measure H funds to initiate and expand key efforts to address the homelessness crisis. The additional funding brings the total Measure H funding for 2019-2020 to $532.8 million. Among the programs to be implemented or enhanced with the new funding:
- $4 million to expand support services to a growing population of homeless young people aged 18 to 24.
- $3 million for a Prevention Action Plan to strengthen County departments’ efforts to keep people from falling into homelessness.
- $2 million to begin implementing an Eviction Defense and Prevention Program for families and individuals at risk of losing their housing.
- $756, 000 for a dedicated team of Department of Public Health nurses to work with outreach teams to provide services at identified high-risk encampments throughout the County.
- $810,000 to launch a safe storage program, so people experiencing homelessness can temporarily store their belongings in order to attend medical appointments, receive health, mental health, and/or substance abuse treatment, and enter shelter.
In addition, the supplemental budget provides $12.9 million to expand temporary homeless shelter assistance for families. It also boosts the County’s push to fund and develop affordable housing with an additional $5 million investment, bringing the current annual allocation to $80 million. And it adds $1.5 million to the Backyard Homes Program, an innovative effort to spur creation of “accessory dwelling units” in neighborhoods.
Child protection system improvements
The supplemental budget funds a range of improvements to the child protection system, including:
- $4.4 million and new staffing for continuous quality improvement teams within the Department of Children and Family Services to conduct case reviews and provide ongoing coaching to regional office staff on performance and social work practice elements.
- Creation of a new DCFS service bureau to strengthen the oversight and support of 19 regional offices and increase the number of case reviews.
- $10.6 million and 87 positions to fund expansion of Department of Health Services Medical Hubs.
- $7.1 million to establish 50 student well-being centers across the County to expand substance abuse prevention services.
- $4.2 million for the Emergency Childcare Bridge program, which provides emergency childcare vouchers and childcare navigator services for children in foster care.
- $7.6 million to provide transportation for foster children to their school of origin.
- $1.7 million for advocacy support services for children who are victims or are at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation and to provide support services to their parents/caregivers.
Other key actions
In the justice arena, the budget includes $11.4 million for training and other resources needed to implement the phase-out of oleoresin capsicum, commonly known as pepper spray, from juvenile institutions. In addition, it establishes an Office of Violence Prevention as well as a new multi‑disciplinary team to assist families who lose loved ones in use of force or custody cases.
In an action that did not affect the overall supplemental budget totals, the Board also approved a motion by Supervisors Hilda L. Solis and Sheila Kuehl directing the Sheriff’s Department to develop and implement a deficit mitigation plan to address issues leading to the department’s $63.4 million deficit in fiscal 2018-2019. The action also imposed a hiring freeze on non-critical civilian positions, and placed $143.7 million of the Sheriff’s budget into a special provisional budget to be made available to the department as needed following implementation of the plan.
The budget expands consumer protection in several key ways, including funding for a “notario” fraud program to enable the District Attorney to step up prosecution of immigration fraud and the unlawful practice of law. It also creates a multi-departmental Consumer Protection Neighborhood Enforcement Team to proactively address code enforcement and consumer protection issues throughout the County.
The budget provides additional funding and staffing for the L.A. Found program, which helps locate people with memory and cognitive impairments who wander from their families and caregivers.
On the environmental front, the budget invests $285.3 million in Measure W revenues to fund projects and programs to increase stormwater capture and reduce stormwater and urban runoff pollution.