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Requests for food and medical assistance increase in Plumas

By Debra Moore

[email protected]

While overall requests for assistance are down in Plumas County, those seeking help to obtain food and medical assistance have increased. For example, The CalFresh program, which provides food assistance has seen an uptick in requests from those 55 and over.

Social Services Director Neal Caiazzo shared that information as he presented his department’s annual report to the Board of Supervisors on July 18.

Another contributing factor for the increase in applications, Caiazzo said, is that people are returning to the county post Dixie Fire and need assistance.

District 3 Supervisor Tom McGowan asked Caiazzo if the increase in CalFresh requests is due to the “rapidly increasing cost of food.” Caiazzo said that more people qualify to receive the assistance — many with jobs. For example a single, working person that earns $18,775 or less qualifies.

Though there have been increases, Caiazzo said that for the most part, requests for services provided through his agency remain “pretty steady.”

Following are some of the details of his report:

Cash Assistance (AFDC/CalWORKs)

Average Monthly Caseload

2019/2020 118

2020/2021 129

2022/2023 111

CalFresh (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) Assistance

Average Monthly Caseload

2019/2020 1254

2020/2021 1278

2022/2023 1452

Medi-Cal

Average Monthly Caseload

2019/2020 3217

2020/2021 3003

2022/2023 3620

Child Welfare Services

The Emergency Response component of Child Protective Services averaged about 23 child abuse investigations per month during the first six months of 2023. Which is the same average, 23 per month for the last six months of 2022. We have experienced an increase in referrals since schools opened up to in person learning after the Covid-19 pandemic.

The department continues to experience significant numbers of cases where the precipitating factors leading to abuse and neglect are associated with substance abuse, in particular methamphetamine but also alcohol and other drugs. Substance abuse and the resultant failure to fulfill a parenting role is the foremost reason that children are removed from unsafe environments.

Children in the Child Welfare Services System

Under changes in the law associated with Assembly Bill 12 of 2012, some children will stay in the Child Welfare System (CWS) longer so that they can complete their education or secure independent housing. Currently the Department has 8 children who are completing an educational plan or living independently. In addition to decreasing the amount of children who are detained, the Department has been focusing on increasing the amount of cases that engage families voluntarily. We currently have 33 children in CWS.

The Department has continued its trend toward placing foster children with relatives and with non-related extended family members. This makes the department less reliant on foster family agencies and foster homes for placement resources.

That trend is expected to continue, but there remains a need for foster homes. This is particularly evident when the Department detains children with special needs as there are fewer foster homes or group homes that provide the specialized care needed by these children.

Adult Protective Services

Generally, the Department receives about 6 referrals per month for situations involving abuse or neglect of elderly and disabled people. During the six-month period that concluded June 30, 2023, the Department received 36 requests for investigation. APS referrals have continued to be above the average. This is due to the higher elderly population in Plumas County and good public awareness of potential threats to the safety and well-being of elderly and/or disabled persons.

The Department continues to receive referrals from financial institutions regarding suspicious circumstances connected with an elderly or disabled person’s financial resources. The Department also receives referrals that are for self-neglect. It is not always possible to intercede because the individual being referred may still have a right to self-determination if a cognitive disability isn’t the cause for their self-neglect

In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS)

Average Monthly Case Count

2019/2020 356

2020/2021 379

2022/2023 359

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