Board of Supervisors to Discuss Domestic Violence, Foster Care

The Great Recession devastated shelters for battered women. And while government funding has declined, the need for such services has drastically increased.

Many victims who could once afford to escape violent homes no longer have the money to move out or care independently for their children. Divorce rates drop and domestic abuse cases rise as people lose the financial ability to free themselves from unhealthy family situations.

The federal sequester will soon slash funding for 70,000 victims in the coming year, as well as reduce access to protection orders, crisis intervention and counseling, and legal and hospital help for another 36,000, according to a report from the Santa Clara County Public Health Department, which will be heard by the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

In 2012, police referred about 3,962 non-lethal domestic violence cases to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. The DA filed charges in 2,259 of those cases (1,849 misdemeanors and 410 felonies). County family courts granted 1,996 domestic violence-related restraining orders that same year.

But also in 2012, nine deaths resulted from domestic violence, the report continues. Three of those cases were murder-suicides. That’s a marked drop from the 17 domestic violence-related deaths the year prior—the highest number in agency history since 2003.

Four domestic violence shelters exist in the county: Asian Americans for Community Involvement, Community Solutions, Next Door Solutions to Domestic Violence and the YWCA Support Network. These agencies offer emergency shelter, clothes, transportation, crisis hotlines, therapy, support groups, legal help, children and teen services and outreach, among other things.

The county receives about $1 million a year to fund these shelters from a fee paid by people convicted in court of domestic abuse.

Other items of note from the 2012 report:

• The county offered shelter to 734 victims and children.
• 21,255 bed nights were provided (number of people multiplied by number of nights).
• 2,504 people were turned away from crowded shelters.
• Operators answered 22,858 help hotline calls.
• Legal advocates helped 1,474 survivors.
• Peer counselors spoke with 3,448 victims.
• Some 398 survivors got clinical therapy.
• 421 children received counseling.
• 2,890 people underwent domestic violence training and education.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for June 4, 2013:

Martial Cottle Park, easily the most generous gift of land the county has ever received, is about to undergo the first phase of construction. The county will report to supervisors on the latest round of bids for the $25 million construction project, which should take about 18 months to complete.

The plan is to turn the 289-acre south San Jose land between Branham Avenue and Highway 85 into a living museum, where beef is raised, food is grown and the public is welcome to visit.

A tax for mosquito and vector control that’s set to expire could get renewed again. The assessment costs about $8.36 a year per family and generates about $4.2 million for the county.

• The Kirby Canyon landfill in Morgan Hill is asking the county to wield its bond-issuing authority to garner at least $40 million in bond debt to pay for improvements at the dump.

• For $13 million, the county is poised to extend a contract that pays for methadone clinics, early intervention HIV treatment and screening and alcohol abuse treatment. The money will get reimbursed through the state, per Gov. Jerry Brown’s 2013-14 fiscal year budget.

• There was an 18-percent increase in the number of children referred into foster care in the county—from 1,311 the month prior to 1,550, a significant increase. And more than ever, the number of black and Latino children are disproportionately represented in foster care compared against county demographics.

“It has long been a concern that Latino and African [American] children have been overrepresented,” reads a report from the Social Services Agency going before supervisors Tuesday. June also serves as Family Reunification Month.

The county is participating in an initiative called California Partners for Permanency that aims to lessen the number of children in long-term foster care. The effort is one of six projects in the nation paid for by a $100 million presidential initiative.

In California, the focus is on the overrepresentation of black, Latino and Native American kids under state care. With help from a $14.5 million federal grant, the California project plans to analyze local child welfare organizations to figure out what’s preventing these populations of kids from finding permanent homes and come up with a better placement model.

Santa Clara County is one of four in California where the pilot study is taking place. Once a best-practices standard is set, the federally funded initiative will implement new policies across the state.

Glucose meters and other supplies for outpatient services for diabetic patients will cost $6 million, if the contract is approved. Buying a five-year supply will help the county save $525,000, according to the Santa Clara Valley Health and Hospital Services.

• The county has to make a mid-year budget adjustment to pay $13.1 million toward CalPERS. The payment wasn’t expected at the outset of the fiscal year. In only a decade, unfunded retirement liabilities have grown from $425 million to $1.8 billion.

“Faced with 10 consecutive years of debilitating deficits, the county has been unable to fully fund this employee benefit,” says a memo from the office of County Executive Jeff Smith. “As finances have stabilized to some degree, the administration and the board have begun a process of developing policy options to address this problem.”

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meet
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Lynn Regandaz

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. Abuse is definitely a learned behavior. I work with and one of the primary things we try to do is teach the children of domestic violence, whether they were actually victims of abuse or just witnessed it, is that there is a better way to deal with the stresses life throws at you than to resort to violence. Unfortunately for most of these children this is all they know. They learn from their fathers that violence is the way to get and maintain control. And they learn from their mothers that this is what it takes to stay in line. The children may hate the father for the abuse but in a way it is almost reminiscent of Stockholm Syndrome. They develop feelings of love and adoration due to the violence. This is why the cycle of abuse is so powerful. Mixing love and violence is a powerful cocktail and difficult to unlearn. But with the right guidance it can be achieved and we can break the cycle of violence before it begins. This is done by teaching the children.

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