Shutdown may affect county health and social services staff
Oct. 15, 2013 — Money is available to keep Health and Social Services running without interruptions right now, but staff is looking at worst-case scenarios if the federal government shutdown continues much longer.
According to Melody Brawley, director of health and social services, programs potentially affected will be the Temporary Assistance for Need Families, which is the CalWORKS program, the social services and the community services block grant money, which funds part of the administrative operations and child welfare and adult protective services.
Currently, health and social services is OK, with programs being funded through local and state reserves. Locally, the health and social services department spends $570,000 in assistance and $483,000 for administration, which funds personnel, contracts and overhead, Brawley said.
She said enough funds are available to get through the end of November, possibly the middle of December.
“We’ll pretty much exhaust our social services funds by that time,” Brawley said.
State funding will cease at the end of this month, but according to Brawley the state department was also looking into the availability of general funds.
Staff is researching information about issuing assistance payments without money and there could be a need for furloughs and layoffs, but Brawley said they are all “fervently hoping we don’t have to go there.”
According to Brawley, approximately 65 staff members and an estimated 500 families if the worst-case scenario happened — the furloughs continue and assistance payments cannot be made.
Programs that are still being funded are Medicaid, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — food stamps — a portion of the foster care payments, child support and Supplemental Security Income.
The Medicaid and SNAP money will help keep some caseworkers around.
“But it’s choosing who those case workers might be. Same with social workers,” she said.
The potential issues the shutdown could create were addressed during a Tuesday, Oct. 8 meeting of the Lassen County Board of Supervisors.
Maria Carlomagno-Brice, director of children family services said the child welfare money is primarily used for salaries and benefits for staff.
“So it really is a matter of if doors can stay open or not. Foster care payments will continue for children who are in placement, and I’m really happy to see that,” she said.
Supervisor Jim Chapman clarified that all scenarios addressed are moot if the federal government comes back.
Brawley confirmed his statement and said it is the “worst-case scenario.”
Chapman also asked if local resources were used to keep the doors open would the money be reimbursed or is it lost forever.
Brawley said those periods have been re-funded, but she could not guarantee it.
County administrative officer Martin Nichols said if things go on long enough, they could be looking at furloughing several employees and stopping grants.
He said if there is some good news, it’s not just Lassen County.
“It’s every county in California, probably every county in the nation is following similar scenarios on different schedules, but it is a very, very significant issue,” he said.
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