Discrepancies found in CalWorks services to Latinas in Los Angeles
Analysis shows more Latinos incarcerated for drug use offenses than those enrolled in detoxification programs and suggests overt discriminatory practices in the distribution of funds initially aimed at helping Latinos.
By Adrian Perez, Publisher
LOS ANGELES, CA - In its November issue, The Latino Journal, a publication focused on public policy and government from a Latino perspective, is reporting disparities in CalWorks services to Latinas in Los Angeles County. The disparities are listed in a in a paper submitted Friday to the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors by James Hernandez, the Chief Executive officer of the California Hispanic Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, (CHCADA). Specifically, the paper alleges discrimination in funding that excludes Latinos in East Los Angeles from attaining needed alcohol and drug treatment.
The study charges that Latino Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) treatment providers are discriminatorily underfunded in Los Angeles County to the detriment of the County’s Latino population.
The principal program to provide AOD services in Los Angeles County is CalWorks, whose recipients are disproportionately Latinas and African-American women. Fifty seven percent of CalWorks recipients have no income. Yet in 2009-2010, $4,504,653 of CalWorks funding went to more affluent Tarzana, located in the San Fernando Valley. This is nearly 50 percent of the $9,885,062 total CalWorks’ funding. Another $767,780 went to the Asian-American Drug Abuse Program, Inc, and only $55,193 went to CHCADA located in the vast East Los Angeles barrio.
The County Board of Supervisors has previously recognized the disparities in funding between Service Planning Areas (SPAs). In June 2009, The Los Angeles Times reported gross disparities in funding between the various SPAs in Los Angeles County. The Times reported $45 million in funding to Tarzana that was made at the expense of Latinos and Latinas in East Los Angeles and was accomplished almost entirely without competitive bidding.
The analysis show these disparities have not occurred by chance, but were the result of SAPC policies and plans that have had a discriminatory disparate impact on East Los Angeles.
Since 2006, overall Los Angeles CalWorks funding has remained fairly constant, however the same cannot be said of CalWorks funds for East Los Angeles. In 2006, East Los Angeles was dramatically underfunded, receiving only $118,341 of funds to CHCADA. By 2010 the funding for CHCADA was radically cut by 53.7% to only $55, 220. This is out of the $9,885,062 CalWorks received in funding.
It can be inferred that this largely occurs because the County discriminates in referrals to Latino providers located in East Los Angeles and instead refers these residents to non-Latino agencies located up to two hours away. The County has permitted these majority providers to locate their offices in DSS locations thus insuring that the majority providers will receive the referrals so that East Los Angeles residents will be compelled to travel to their locations.
Contemporaneously, the County has funded the development of AOD services in majority areas to the point that there are no detoxification facilities located in East Los Angeles. Moreover, the city of Tarzana, which will receive $4,506,868 in 2010-2011, is the only beneficiary of this discrimination against East Los Angeles. Southern California Alcohol and Drug Programs Inc located in the city of Downey will receive $775,944 in 2010 and Behavioral Health Services will only receive $591,810 for the 2010-2011 fiscal year.
Los Angeles County is divided into eight Service Planning Areas, commonly known as SPAs. In 2010-2011, after the Board of Supervisors ordered Substance Abuse Prevention and Control (SAPC) to reduce disparities in funding between the SPAS, the SAPC actually increased Tarzana's funding to $4,506,865. Deplorably, SAPC has now undertaken CalWorks RFP # SAPC- 2010 -01 that is designed to fund medical detoxification services for providers located in SPA 2 in the San Fernando Valley. The travel time by bus for Latinos seeking CalWorks services from East LA to the San Fernando Valley site is 2 hours and six minutes. The use of public transportation is essential since 94.4 percent of all Cal Works recipients in Los Angeles County have no vehicle. Instead of traveling, many don’t use the service, which may serve to explain the under representation of Latinos in the CalWorks program.
According to the Counties database, an individual randomly chosen is 27.6 percent more likely to unintentionally die from alcohol and/or drugs in SPA 7 than in SPA 2 since SPA 6 and SPA 7 contain the largest concentrations of minorities at 97.5 percent and 83.1 percent respectively. By comparison SPAS 1 and 2 are among the three lowest SPAs in minority population.
Latinos in Los Angeles County are less likely to complete AOD treatment and are more likely to leave treatment after less than one month than their counterparts. Latinos are also underrepresented in AOD treatment programs. As a result, the number of Latinos in treatment programs are overshadowed by those arrested for drug-related felonies in Los Angeles County. In fact, although Latinos makeup only 47 percent of Los Angeles County’s population, they comprise 56.9 percent of all felony DUI arrests. The need for Latino AOD treatment could not be more dramatic.
COUNTY EFFORTS FOR RESOLUTION IGNORED
AOD treatment funding for CalWorks recipients and welfare to work participants totals $9,885,062. On June 16, 2009 the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors instructed the SAPC to not allow contracts for more than one year until DPH, working with the county Executive Officer, would provide a status report to the Board of Supervisors on its efforts to create a fair and competitive request for proposals (RFPs) process for all alcohol and drug treatment programs. The SAPC assured the Board of Supervisors that no material changes to the bid solicitation process would occur before SAPC implemented efforts to create a fair and competitive process for RFPs. But apparently, the request was ignored.
In his paper James Hernandez states, “SAPC focused on reducing the number of providers, rather that the needs of Los Angeles County residents most in need-underserved Latinas. SAPC failed to address problems with discrimination in referrals among providers before issuing another Request for Proposals that will surely make matters worse.”
The Board of Supervisors did not respond to calls asking for an explanation of the disparities in funding to serve Latinas.