What Are the Counties Up To?

As discussed in the last several issues of this newsletter, fall is the time to develop policies for the upcoming year. The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) has been busy in anticipation of their annual meeting next week. Some of the policies that CSAC is revising and prioritizing will include the following:

Behavioral Health Funding 
The state is making historic investments in behavioral health housing, children’s behavioral health services, and CalAIM. To successfully harness these investments to make transformative change requires addressing underlying county mental health plan funding shortfalls and state administrative inefficiencies, as well as the formation of new partnerships and an assessment of the expanding set of roles and responsibilities placed upon county specialty mental health services and Drug Medi-Cal. CSAC will also advocate for behavioral health workforce assistance and adequate funding to match existing and any new responsibilities.


Conservatorship Issues 
The conservatorship conversation intersects with multiple county priorities, including homelessness, behavioral health, aging, and the Incompetent to Stand Trial (IST) backlog, and yet county conservatorship duties are neither funded through Realignment nor receive any state funding. CSAC is a founding member of a coalition seeking sustainable state funding assistance for county conservatorship workload. Additional pressures on conservatorships, including a raft of bills and possibly a statewide initiative to make it easier to conserve folks, will also require close attention and negotiation to ensure sufficient resources for any changes to current statute and county responsibilities.

Aging Programs
California’s Master Plan for Aging has created and furthered numerous opportunities to strengthen and enhance services for older adults. CSAC has engaged on a number of these efforts including significant advocacy related to the ongoing initiative to revisit the local leadership structure for aging services. Advocacy efforts have and will continue to focus on ensuring that counties have the local flexibility and decision-making authority, as well as enhanced resources, to meet the diverse and growing needs of this population. As implementation of the Master Plan moves forward, CSAC will remain engaged on recommendations related to services administered by Area Agencies on Aging (AAA), In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS), Adult Protective Services (APS), Public Administrators/Public Guardians/Public Conservators, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Child Welfare/Foster Care
There have been a number of recent reforms and budget investments at both the state and federal level to support children and youth in or at risk of entering foster care. This includes the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), system of care work to better serve youth who have experienced trauma, and developing services and supports for complex needs foster youth. Successful implementation of these initiatives will be critical to ensure that vulnerable children and youth are protected and supported. CSAC will continue to engage with state agencies, partner with county affiliates, and advocate for budget investments.

You may view the entire meeting packet here.

Also, CSAC recently released a brief – Incorporating Behavioral Health Responses to Reduce Intimate Partner Violence – that discusses a bill they co-sponsored in 2017 (AB 372) to help advance domestic violence batterer intervention programs. AB 372 allowed six counties to pilot alternative interventions, focusing on creating the opportunity for change to stop future domestic violence incidents. A key component of future success in this area is understanding behavioral health and intimate partner violence intersections.  

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