Improving Lives

County Extends Child Abuse Prevention Program

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved extending the Prevention Initiative Demonstration Project (PIDP), following recent studies illustrating the success of the program in preventing child abuse and neglect.

The PIDP was the result of a joint motion by Supervisors Don Knabe and Zev Yaroslavsky in February of 2008 to test a broad spectrum of services that would seek to prevent child abuse by working proactively with at-risk families before they would come to the attention of the child welfare system. A critical element of the project was to focus on addressing the broader root causes within communities that weaken families and impede healthy childhood development – such as social isolation, lack of economic opportunities and a little or no access to municipal services.

“Instead of focusing our efforts on providing services after a crisis occurs, this program – the first of its kind in the nation – has shown that moving our resources into prevention can empower and strengthen at–risk families and keep them out of the system,” said Supervisor Knabe. “Through partnerships with community and faith-based organizations, we are able to proactively build a sense of community which helps families address problems before a crisis occurs.”

PIDP is in its second year of a three year demonstration. In that time, 18,000 people have been touched by the program, of which 13 percent were families involved with the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) or were from communities with the most abuse referrals. Analysis of the program, provided by Casey Family Programs, has found it to be very effective in both keeping at-risk families out of the system and strengthening families already involved with DCFS so they do not return or leave oversight more quickly.

Major findings included:

• Proactively engaging families with ‘unfounded’ or ‘inconclusive’ Emergency Response referrals decreased re-referrals

• Providing the types of services PIDP offers to families in the system shortens the amount of time they are involved with DCFS

• Establishing a sense of community, through family visitation centers at churches, Neighborhood Action Councils and community walk-in centers, were the most successful in strengthening at-risk families

Knabe Statement on the “Home For Good Plan”

I want to congratulate the Business Leaders Task Force on Homelessness for the “Home for Good Plan,” an effort by local business and community leaders to find solutions to the issue of homelessness in Los Angeles County.  I generally support the recommendations outlined in the Plan, and I agree that a more direct, streamlined approach to housing the chronically homeless is needed.

We have already made great strides towards aligning with this approach in LA County.  Last year, I called for a restructuring of our General Relief (GR) program to focus first on housing.  The GR program provides cash assistance to over 89,000 County residents each month, assisting with food, housing and employment.  While the cost of the program nears $200 million, experts estimate that the County spends almost four times this on other services to those on General Relief, 53,000 of whom are homeless.  These additional costs are mostly related to repeated incarcerations in County Jail and recurring visits to County emergency rooms and clinics, pushing the price tag closer to $1 billion per year.  A shift in focus to housing will not only help many of these individuals overcome serious challenges and transition to a better life, but will also save taxpayers money.

I look forward to working with the Task Force on this strategy, and joining with them to advocate in Washington DC for the changes in federal policy needed to advance our mission to end homelessness in Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County Extends Child Care Program

The Board of Supervisors today unanimously approved a motion by Supervisor Don Knabe to extend the CalWORKS Stage 3 Child Care Program.

A recent action by the State would eliminate child care slots for over 11,700 Los Angeles families in the CalWORKS Stage 3 Child Care Program.  A recipient is designated in Stage 3 if s/he has moved off welfare and into the workforce.

“People in this program have worked very hard to get off welfare and back into a job,” said Supervisor Knabe.  “We have been able to devise a program that can provide support immediately to these at-risk families and without additional administrative costs.  The bottom line is that in this troubled economy, we must keep people working.”

Protecting Children Requires Solutions, Not Finger Pointing

By Supervisor Don Knabe

As a father and grandfather, learning of the death of any child in our foster care system is heart-wrenching and unacceptable.  Over the last few weeks, the media has reported on an increase in fatalities in our County system through a misguided focus on some recently released data.

First and foremost, I want to assure the public that Los Angeles County is strongly committed to its responsibility to protect kids from abuse and neglect.  Our Department of Children and Family Services is one of the largest in the nation.  Our social workers investigate 170,000 allegations of child abuse each year and oversee the safety of 32,000 children on any given day.  The scope and size of the challenges are significant.

To understand the factors that contributed to these tragedies, we need to look beyond the numbers and at the entire child welfare system.  For example, have we considered the fact that the court system frequently orders placement of children back with families that may not be capable of caring for them, often against the recommendation of the Department?  Social workers then have to manage tenuous family situations.  Also, some of the fatalities reported took place long after social workers closed the case.  How does this information inform their practices?  Are we doing enough footwork on the front end of child abuse investigations?  What additional tools and resources can we offer our social workers to best gauge abuse or neglect?

It is more important than ever to focus on solutions.  The Department moved a large number of social workers to the front end of investigations to ensure the most thorough reviews of child abuse allegations in the nation.  Every case, in fact every decision concerning a child, is reviewed at three levels of management.  Social workers are being provided with updated technology to ensure accurate, timely casework and they are held strictly accountable for their actions.  We are also reviewing each and every child fatality that has occurred since 2008, to see what further lessons can be learned and what additional measures can be put in place.  I am confident that these strategies will go even further to protect children from harm.

Unfortunately, most of the reporting on this issue does not tell the full story.  Take for example the news reports on the increase in number of deaths in foster care.  State law requires us to release information on deaths that occurred that the County could clearly attribute to abuse or neglect.  Most of the cases that fall under this distinction are homicides.  The Board of Supervisors – over my objections – recently ordered a more expansive interpretation of the law to also include deaths that occurred that could not definitively be attributed to abuse or neglect.  These include such tragic occurrences as suicides, accidental drownings and babies suffocated by sleeping parents, known as “co-sleeping.”  This is essentially what caused the reported numbers to rise.  I opposed the expanded interpretation of the law because I believe it has created an environment that fuels demagoguery and finger-pointing as opposed to a fair, open discourse on the highly complex, intensely emotional issues surrounding children in crisis.

I am absolutely committed to protecting the most vulnerable children in our community.  In fact, it is my most important responsibility as a County Supervisor.

That is why I continue to fight for measures to keep our children safe throughout all of Los Angeles County.

Paid Internships In The Arts Now Available

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors recently approved a motion to provide $250,000 for the 2010 Los Angeles County Arts Internship Program. The program is for Los Angeles County-based nonprofit performing, presenting and literary arts organizations interested in mentoring an undergraduate college student for ten weeks during summer 2010.

The guidelines and application for the program are now available on the Los Angeles County Arts Commission’s Web site.

The deadline to submit an application is Wednesday, April 7, 2010. Grants of $2,500 to $3,500, depending on organizational budget size, to be used to pay interns are awarded to successful applicant organizations.

Organizations interested in this program should review the guidelines before beginning an application. Several aspects of the program have changed due to decreased funding:

Only arts organizations that possess 501(c)(3) status are eligible for the program, including municipal arts agencies and municipal performing arts organizations.

Each organization may request only one full-time intern.

Organizations with budgets over $1.5 million are required to provide a $500 match.

Organizations with budgets over $4 million are required to provide a $1,000 match.

The purpose of the County’s program is to provide undergraduate students with meaningful on-the-job training and experience in working in nonprofit arts organizations, while assisting arts organizations to develop future arts leaders.

Child Support Services Outreach Event

Parents who owe past due child support are invited to a special community outreach event on Saturday, April 3. Parents will be able to make payment arrangements, have a suspended license released and receive information about services offered by Los Angeles County departments.

The Los Angeles County Child Support Services Department (CSSD) is holding Let’s Seal a Deal on Your Past Due Child Support, at the South Coast Botanic Gardens from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Staff from CSSD will be present to talk to parents about their child support cases and negotiate arrangements for past due payments. Payments can be made by cash, check or credit card.

Parents also will be able to get job and free service information offered by other County Departments including: Public Social Services, Military and Veterans Affairs, Community and Senior Services, and Children and Family Services.

The Department of Child Support Services wants to help parents act responsibly in eliminating past due child support which is important for their families, said CSSD Deputy Director Lori Cruz, who will be present at the outreach. This is a special opportunity for parents to come in and talk to us and work out some arrangements.

CSSD assists families and children in Los Angeles County with free child support services. CSSD basic services include establishing, modifying and enforcing child support obligations including medical support. Other services include free paternity testing, collecting child support and locating parents.

The South Coast Botanic Gardens is located at 26300 Crenshaw Boulevard in Palos Verdes Estates. For more information visit or call (866) 901-3212.

County Hosting Census Assistance Centers

The County of Los Angeles will host centers within a number of its facilities to assist residents who have questions about the Census, need help in filling out their Census forms, or need a Census form.

Questionnaire assistance centers will be staffed by Census representatives to answer questions regarding the Census form. Be Counted Sites will provide residents with a new Census form if they have lost their form or never received one. Hours vary by location, and some sites will serve only as a questionnaire assistance center or a Be Counted Site, so residents should call before visiting.

There are 67 centers located at County libraries, parks, health centers, senior centers and fire stations open to assist the public. In addition, the County Public Social

Services Department will provide assistance at 21 of its offices to clients already visiting those facilities.

Fourth District Census Assistance Centers

Deane Dana Friendship Park: 1805 W. 9th St., San Pedro – (310) 519-6115

Rancho Los Amigos: 7601 E. Imperial Hwy., Room 103, Downey – (213) 974-1148

Los Nietos Senior Center: 11640 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier – (562) 699-9898

Office of Public Safety: 12951 Juniper St., Downey – (213) 974-1148

Registrar Recorder/County Clerk: 12400 Imperial Hwy., Norwalk – (562) 562-2704

San Pedro Service Center: 769 W. Third St., San Pedro – (310) 519-6091

Schabarum Regional Park: 17250 E. Colima Rd., Rowland Heights – (626) 854-5560

Hermosa Beach Library: 550 Pier Ave., Hermosa Beach – (310) 830-0231

Lomita Library: 24200 Narbonne Ave., Lomita – (310) 830-0231

Paramount Library: 16254 Colorado Ave., Paramount – (562) 868-0770

Los Nietos Library: 11644 E. Slauson Ave., Whittier – (323) 722-5621

Hacienda Heights Library: 16010 La Monde St., Hacienda Heights – (626) 960-2861

Rowland Heights Library: 1850 Nogales St., Rowland Heights – (626) 960-2861

Los Angeles County Overhauls Cash Assistance Program For Poor Adults

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors today approved an ambitious plan to dramatically restructure the General Relief (GR) program. Since 1901, Los Angeles County has administered this program to provide temporary cash aid to indigent adults. All 58 counties across California are legally mandated by the State to provide assistance of this kind.

Approximately 89,000 County residents receive cash assistance through the GR program each month: up from 71,000 last year. Direct costs currently are looming near the $200 million mark in local taxpayer dollars: up from $161 million last year. A number of GR participants have been on the program for over 20 years, and 60% of the caseload is homeless. In addition, experts estimate that the County spends almost four times the cost, above and beyond providing GR cash assistance on other services to this population, mostly related to repeated incarcerations in County Jail and recurring visits to emergency rooms and clinics. These additional costs push the price tag closer to $1 billion per year.

"This is a bold step, but we saw a clear opportunity to both control costs, reduce the caseload and better serve this high-need population, many of whom are homeless," said Supervisor Knabe, who introduced the original motion in April 2009 that called for this restructuring.

The program will be restructured to ensure that everyone on the caseload is working towards ways of transitioning off of GR, via employment or pursuit of other benefit programs they would more appropriately qualify for. A large part of the proposal focuses mainly on the County better aligning the GR program to move people off of GR onto Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is federally funded. Many of the GR recipients that are homeless have disabilities that would likely qualify them for SSI. Federal funding would also be available to fund most of the cost of housing them while they pursue SSI eligibility.

"I think we have a genuine chance to help many of these individuals overcome serious challenges and transition to a better life," the Supervisor added.

Los Angeles County Creates More Than 10,000 Local Jobs

With President Obama’s State of the Union Speech expected to focus on job creation and retention, Los Angeles County has already reached a major milestone today in job creation. The County’s goal to create 10,000 temporary jobs locally has been achieved, but was also exceeded this week. As of today, 10,044 men, women, and young adults have been hired into jobs created by the program.

On March 3, 2009, Supervisor Knabe introduced the 10,000 Jobs Program, which utilizes almost $200 million in federal stimulus funding to create temporary subsidized employment opportunities in County departments, private sector employers, non-profit organizations, and in cities across Los Angeles County for CalWORKs welfare recipients.

CalWORKs is a welfare-to-work program that uses federal funding to provide temporary financial assistance and employment focused services to families. Most parents are also required to participate in employment services programs with the goal of finding work and getting off welfare permanently. The County’s 10,000 Jobs Program is an expansion of this effort. This portion of stimulus dollars must be used towards benefitting welfare recipients, lifting people off welfare rolls and from being a burden on taxpayers, and putting them into temporary jobs that may lead to permanent employment.

Under the rules of the federal funding, 80-percent of the cost of a subsidized worker will be covered by the government, and the employer is only responsible for 20-percent of the overall cost. The 20-percent can be further reduced by an employer’s supervision and training costs. Even though the jobs are located throughout the County, the South Bay Workforce Investment Board acts as the employer of record. They perform payroll functions, pre-screen candidates, and absorb Workers Compensation liability. A requirement for participating employers is that subsidized workers cannot displace existing employees.

More than 500 businesses across the County have hired employees through the program. Several cities have also hired workers through the program and more than 700 participants are actually working directly for the County, doing temporary seasonal jobs.

It is a tremendous achievement that we have surpassed the goal of creating 10,000 local jobs in such a short time, but we will not stop there, said Knabe. To recover our local economy, we are going to need to create thousands of more jobs, which is why the County is working with lawmakers in Washington, D.C. to extend this funding, get the most out of it we possibly can, and create as many more jobs as we can before this funding eventually expires.

Even though the County’s 10,000 jobs goal was been reached, funding is still available and jobs are still being created. Two resources are available for employers looking to hire workers or for those looking for a job. The first is the County’s telephone hotline, 211. The second is a dedicated website,