Relatives Caring for Foster Children Need Help Making Ends Meet

November 2, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to try and find a way to offer longer-term funding to relatives caring for foster children and awaiting state approvals under a new system.

The county’s child welfare agency has pushed hard to find relatives to care for children removed from their parents’ homes after reports of abuse or neglect, aiming to minimize upset and maximize consistency for those kids.

But state reforms instituting new approvals for foster parents require hours of training and multiple interviews before families can receive foster care funding.

The Department of Children and Family Services provides a temporary $400 stipend to relative caregivers for up to three months to try and bridge that gap. But approvals are taking longer, leading Supervisors Hilda Solis and Sheila Kuehl to ask staffers to look at whether monies could be provided beyond the 90-day period.

“In comparison to non-relative foster parents, relatives caring for foster children tend to be older, have lower incomes and be in poorer health,” Solis said. “With a shortage of foster homes, I hope today’s action will give families the financial support to help care for their relatives.”

Foster families — some of whom are asked to take in two or three siblings with little to no warning — praised the move.

“Two years ago, my wife and I decided to try to get custody of my siblings,” said Imrith Martinez, who said the stipend helped him pay for uniforms and school supplies for the three younger children. “The power that you have today to pass this motion can affect a lot of families.”

Susan Abrams of the Children’s Law Center said California’s Continuum of Care Reform had “very serious unintended consequences,” and described relatives calling her office crying and desperate about their inability to take care of their nieces, nephews and grandchildren.

The motion also directed staffers to review how state approvals might be expedited.

“Both are critical to make sure that families are not suffering,” said Elise Weinberg, a policy attorney with the Alliance for Children’s Rights.

No Warrant? No Access: County Bars ICE Agents From ‘Sensitive’ Locations

October 19, 2017 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to bar access to non-public areas of county properties — including hospitals, libraries and social services offices — to federal immigration
agents without a warrant.

Supervisor Hilda Solis proposed designating county facilities as “sensitive locations,” saying some residents were afraid to seek medical care or other critical resources for fear of deportation.

“We know that Los Angeles County is often the safety net of last resort for so many who live here and face hardships,” Solis said. “Our county provides services that allow people to get back on their feet or get through very challenging times. However, many immigrants in our county do not feel safe to access these services.”

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents cannot be prohibited from going into public areas of county buildings.

The policy also does not apply to jails, courthouses or public schools because the county lacks jurisdiction in those locations.

However, a county lawyer pointed out that 72 percent of public schools in the county are in districts that already protect students from immigration enforcement.

“School districts can impose much greater restrictions” on their own, the attorney told the board.

As for jails, the Sheriff’s Department allows ICE agents in the downtown Inmate Reception Center, but the lawyer assured the board that “they are there only for the purpose of accepting the transfer of inmates” who qualify for federal detention.

The lawyer also noted that computers belonging to ICE had been removed from an office in the IRC in August and the related data lines were shut down.

That action was taken after the Office of Inspector General informed the Sheriff’s Department that it was preparing a report about the use of the computers in contradiction to public statements that ICE agents had vacated county jail offices.

Advocates for immigrants praised the new policy, which county lawyers have been working on since April.

“The adoption of the Sensitive Locations Policy will provide critical protection to members of the Los Angeles immigrant community and their families from unconstitutional detention,” said Nora Phillips, legal director for Al Otro Lado, a nonprofit legal services organization. “This policy will create clarity among L.A. County employees, greatly lessen community fear, and ensure unimpeded civic participation for Angelenos.”

The policy also prohibits the use of county employees or funds for activities related to immigration enforcement or investigation other than for law enforcement purposes primarily unrelated to immigration.

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