HHS Committee Report

Health and Human Services Update 080410

Dr. Carol Roberts

A report was provided to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday, 080310 from the Health and Human Services committee.  Supervisor Pat Whitley made the report; a copy of the minutes of the report are found in the board packet.

According to Supervisor Whitley, there has not been a dramatic increase in HHS staff since Dr. Carol Roberts took the director’s chair.  Further, the number of contracts held has been halved, since more work is being done in-house.  The number of people from the county in outside care has been significantly reduced, since they are now in the community receiving local services.  

Information in the minutes deals with the rumor that, somehow, people were coming to Sierra County to take SOS jobs.  This was imagined to be a bad thing.
Loyalton is rich with vacant houses, and the schools luxurious with empty desks and classrooms; somehow, having working families come to Loyalton is imagined to be a bad thing.
The truth is worse: the families were imagined.  It is revealed that of the 45 participants in the program, only three moved to the county after the program started, and they moved here to be with family.

The Board received the information, and Lee Adams, long dubious of the growth of government in our lives, remarked that, while Dr. Roberts is doing her job well, there is still nearly a six fold increase in the number of staff from 1979 to the present.

Health and Human Services will remain a lively discussion in the county on at least two fronts.  First, the previously mentioned concern that under the state vision for our county, we are getting too many services and too many people are involved with HHS. Second is the looming likelihood that a lot of the money the county has enjoyed is going to dry up, and should we suddenly decide we want all the services Dr. Roberts has provided, it might no longer be possible to afford them.  

In the first instance, it is up to the community to decide how much government help we want, but to do that, you have to be informed.  We all need to understand how social services funding works, since the government generally gives the county money to do things a certain way.  If we don’t like the government’s way, it’s up to the people, through the Board, to inform the state.  It isn’t Dr. Robert’s job to make that kind of policy, nor does she have the authority without the Board to refuse to provide key services.  
It might well be that we would be better off without California’s tender mercy.  Increasingly the state is stepping off funding but leaving enforcement to the counties.  As a community, we might make a better deal.  We might suggest that without the dollars, we’ll pass on fulfilling Sacramento’s dream for us.

Whatever is in store for social and mental health services in our county, we should all be active in the formulation of our community needs.  

The HHS committee provided this information about the goals of SC HHS:

Increase community well-being
Decrease poverty
Insure the safety of vulnerable citizens
Maintain Early Care and Education services
Decrease the drop out rate in schools
Increase the availability of healthcare
Increase food security for our citizens
Decrease drug, alcohol and tobacco use
Increase community health indicators as outlined in federal Healthy Communities guidelines
Increase economic stability of our clients and community

Some of these are critical goals, too large for Dr. Roberts and even 39 staff, these are goals we might take on as a community.

There is a meeting September 15th at 9:00 in Loyalton; be there!
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