Social services took center stage in the final $3.9 billion budget adopted Wednesday by the Sacramento County Board of Supervisors.
Since the board approved the recommended 2016-2017 budget in June, county staff increased department budgets by $18.5 million, with the lion’s share going to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Supervisors also bumped up the county’s contribution to the winter sanctuary program for homeless people run by Sacramento Steps Forward by $100,000 for a total of $360,000.
County Executive Nav Gill proposed a $1.1 million community support fund to be set aside for grants to community organizations. Typically community members and organizations approach the board for funding around the budget time, but there wasn’t a lot of room left this year to fund those requests, Gill said.
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Community support fund grants would go to groups that augment the work of the health and human services department with children and families, including adoption assistance, adult protective services and foster care.
Gill said he and county staff members would return to the board with a plan for requesting proposals, choosing grantees and ensuring results. Supervisors Phil Serna and Don Nottoli said they are cautious about putting all community organizations on the same level because some of them have long-standing relationships with the county.
“This will be the first opportunity probably in a decade to actually look at some ability to grow some of the service delivery in this community for needy folks,” Nottoli said. “But I am concerned about throwing everybody into that batch.”
One organization with a history in the county, the Roberts Family Development Center, requested $110,000 to begin to fill an estimated $300,000 gap that will be left by the elimination of No Child Left Behind funds. Co-founder Derrell Roberts told the board the organization hopes to get the remainder from the city of Sacramento and fundraising efforts.
Supervisors Phil Serna, Patrick Kennedy and Don Nottoli agreed to throw in $15,000 each from their districts’ funds and the board voted to contribute an additional $55,000 out of contingency funds.
The budget for the Department of Health and Human Services received an $11.4 million bump from state and federal funds for a variety of programs and dozens of new positions. Forty-two full-time positions were added to the Child Protective Services division, 12 to Senior and Adult Services and 10 to Behavioral Health services.
As part of the Behavioral Health increase, DHHS will expand the Early Intervention Family Drug Court from serving families with kids up to age 5 to serving families with kids up to age 12. The program is voluntary for parents who are at risk of losing custody of their children due to substance abuse issues. Dr. Sherri Heller, the head of DHHS, told the board the voluntary program keeps families together and lowers foster care costs.
“This a great example of investing in something that absolutely, demonstrably works,” she said.