By: Bonnie Sharpe On: July 05, 2020 In: News Item Comments: 0

BUDGET ALERT

Final Budget Restores Many Proposed Cuts

The Governor and Legislature have finalized an agreement on the 20-21 Budget. Thanks to all of your persistent advocacy and engagement in this process, many of the May Revise proposed cuts have been restored!

Below is a summary of what we know so far. The Education Trailer Bill Language is not out yet, and we will update you just as soon as we can about those budget items.

And remember – This budget is not final until it is voted on and signed by the Governor. And there is a 72-hour rule for bills to be in print before a vote – so we expect the Legislature to vote on Thursday.

All budget changes, amendments in legislation or regulations take effect on July 1 unless otherwise indicated.

Behavioral Health

Realignment

  • The realignment language is contained in AB 89.  Up to $1 billion is included to backfill county realignment funds – $750 million in 20-21.  The remaining $250 million would only be allocated if new federal coronavirus relief arrives.  This is being referred to as a “trigger up” approach.  We do not have clarity yet about how the $750 million and the $250 million will be distributed to both realignments.  According to the budget language, $750 million is to provide support for counties experiencing revenue losses for realigned programs.  In utilizing these funds, counties shall prioritize support for health and human services, entitlement programs, and programs that serve vulnerable populations.  These funds may be augmented by $250 million subject to federal assistance.  The Department of Finance will be developing a countywide allocation schedule to distribute these funds.  The Director of Finance will be providing the countywide allocation schedule to the State Controller’s Office for distribution of the county allocations.

MHSA

The provisions of the MHSA flexibility language are contained in AB 81.  The MHSA flexibilities language will allow counties to access prudent reserves immediately. The language will safeguard funds subject to reversion at the end of this fiscal year and will allow more time for counties to finalize their Three-Year plans with stakeholder engagement. Three-Year plans are currently due at the end of this fiscal year. Also, there is language included that will allow counties to use innovation funds for other components and possibly allow flexibility on the caps for funding capitol, workforce programs and prudent reserve – subject to the stakeholder engagement process. This will require a DHCS all county letter or similar guidance to implement. We will continue to work together with a larger coalition of mental health advocacy groups including CBHDA to ensure the subsequent guidance is in line with our compromises. For budget language, see here.

It is our understanding that there will be an opportunity to advocate for additional MHSA flexibilities in August.

Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission (MHSOAC)

  • Of the funds allocated to the MHSOAC, $2 million will be available to support suicide prevention efforts consistent with the Commission’s Suicide Prevention Report “Striving for Zero” and in consultation and coordination with the State Department of Public Health and the State Department of Health Care Services.  This is consistent with CA Alliance sponsored legislation AB 2112 (Ramos) to establish an Office of Suicide Prevention at the Department of Public Health.

Prop 56

  • Pushes back cuts until July 2021 to the following Prop 56 programs:
    • Trauma screenings for children and adults
    • Developmental screenings for children
    • Provider training for trauma screenings
    • Community based adult programs

Foster Family Agencies

Foster Family Agency Rates and FFA Time Study

  • There will be no cut to the Foster Family Agency rate.  The current FFA rate will remain intact, at least until December 30, 2021.  This is budgeted at $4.8 million State General Fund and $7 million total when it includes federal funds.
  • It is the Legislature’s intent that if at any point during the 2020-21 fiscal year, the Department of Social Services (DSS) and the Department of Finance (DOF) identify additional federal funds due to the results of the FFA Social Worker Time Study, that these funds will be used to pay the state’s share of cost of the 4.15% rate increase. (Note: this is not a new FFA rate increase – it is for the FFA rate increase first implemented in 2019-20 which means that it is an ongoing cost so the State incurs $4.8 million in new general fund costs each year).
  • The budget bill also requires that an update on the results of the FFA Social Worker Time Study shall be provided to the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature in 2020-21.

New FFA Laws and Regulations

  • Existing laws and regulations require FFA Master Level social workers to do the Resource Family home health assessment and the orientation of Resource Family applicants. The budget bill will allow nonsocial work personnel to complete the Resource Family home health and safety assessment (LIC 03) and to complete the orientations.
  • The nonsocial work personnel shall have a minimum of a bachelor’s degree in social work, psychology, or similar field, and experience and core competencies but there will be guidance developed by DSS in consultation with stakeholders to allow for exceptions for when the nonsocial work personnel have the background and experience instead of the bachelor’s degree to complete the home health assessment and/or orientations.
  • Existing FFA Interim Licensing Standards allows for one full-time social worker for every 15 children. The budget bill increases that ratio to one full-time social worker for every 18 children.

Updates to the Resource Family Approval Will Now be “Every Two Years” Instead of “Every Year” Including the Home Inspection

  • Existing law requires that Foster Family Agency and County Approved Resource Families have an annual Resource Family approval update and an annual home inspection.
  • This budget bill would instead require that updating the resource family approvals, including the home inspections, are conducted “biennially” or “every two years,” instead of annually, except for when significant changes have occurred in the resource family’s circumstances, such as moving to a new home or starting operation of a family day care, etc.

Level of Care Protocol Tool Remains Intact – Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC) Changes to Come Soon

  • There will be no suspension of the Level of Care Protocol Tool (LOCP) to assess children with FFA Resource Parents and they will continue to be assessed for Levels of Care 2, 3, and 4 and Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC). (Note: The changes to the LOCP to allow for an Interagency Placement Committee/IPC and to allow for Special Health Care Needs children to be eligible for “static” for ISFC likely will soon be issued, as was scheduled pre-COVID-19.)

Family Urgent Response System (FURS)

  • The Family Urgent Response System (FURS) was restored and is authorized to be implemented sooner than January 2021.

STRTPs

  • There will be no cut to the STRTP rate, and the statutory provision mandating payment of a COLA remains in place.

THP

  • Transitional Housing Program for Non Minor Dependents (THP-NMD) Rate Supplement

Beginning July 1, 2021, providers in counties where the THP-NMD rate falls below the “Fair Market Rent” (FMR) as calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be paid a supplemental rate as follows:

  • For NMDs who are custodial parents, the difference between the FMR for a one-bedroom apartment in the county in which the NMD resides and 21.45 percent of the rate established under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11403.2
  • For NMDs who are not custodial parents, the difference between one-half the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment in the county in which the NMD resides and 21.45 percent of the rate established under Welfare and Institutions Code Section 11403.2.
  • As noted above, the date on which payment of this supplemental rate is to begin (subject to a budget appropriation) is July 1, 2021.  This is due to the need for CDSS to coordinate with the County Welfare Directors Association and the Statewide Automated Welfare System (SAWS) to automate implementation of the system.

 Education

  • No Trailer Bill Language is out yet, but reports are that with deferred payments for districts and other funds, no cuts will be made to Education programs. For EdSource article with some detail, click here.

 Developmental Services

  • It is our understanding that there are no rate cuts for Regional Centers/Developmental Services.
  • Rate increases for the following programs (subject to suspension in July 2021):
    • a rate increase to independent living programs
    • infant development programs
    • early start specialized therapeutic services

*Source: California Alliance https://www.cacfs.org/budget-alert-6-22-20

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