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Sen. Dodd’s Emergency In-Home Supportive Services bill clears full Senate

A bill from Senator Bill Dodd, D-Napa, that will improve In-Home Supportive Services for those hit with natural disasters like the October wildfires was approved by the full Senate Thursday by unanimous vote.

“When disaster strikes, it is absolutely necessary that we continue to look after our elderly and disabled residents,” Sen. Dodd said. “We cannot neglect these vulnerable people. I applaud my fellow senators for supporting this legislation and for standing with the people across the state who will benefit from it.”

Senate Bill 1040 follows last year’s devastating fires and mudslides that exposed systemwide failures faced by the state’s most vulnerable residents and the caregivers who assist them. It heads next to the Assembly.

It does several things. It clarifies that social workers may approve more hours for caregivers while prioritizing funds from the Office of Emergency Services for the repair of dwellings that are damaged or destroyed. It also codifies an expedited paycheck replacement policy for caregivers whose paychecks were lost or destroyed in a disaster. And it requires counties at the next update of their emergency response plans to make assessments that will ensure that services will continue to be provided during times of natural disaster.

The bill was introduced after the 2017 disasters prevented people from receiving continuous service while they were evacuated to emergency shelters. At the same time, caregivers, who earn very low wages, were left without paychecks. They provide personal care such as feeding, bathing, housecleaning and cooking.

“We can’t turn our backs on the elderly or infirm and we certainly can’t neglect the people who care for them,” Dodd said. “This bill brings a statewide approach to the challenge of ensuring a continuity of care, even in the event of disasters like the ones we’ve experienced over the past year.”

In-Home Supportive Services is the largest long-term care program in the state, helping about 500,000 low-income people with disabilities, including seniors, live safely at home rather than in costly facilities. A majority of them have incomes of less than $1,000 a month and have $2,000 or less in personal assets.

SB 1040 is sponsored by the California Association of Public Authorities for In-Home Supportive Services and is co-sponsored by the United Domestic Workers/AFSCME. Supporters include the California Commission on Aging.

“The devastating effects of natural disasters are often felt more acutely by in-home supportive services consumers due to their unique and specific care needs,” said Karen Kessler, executive directive of CAPA. “This was certainly the experience in recent disasters. We believe that the multi-pronged approach envisioned in Senator Dodd’s bill will ensure that needs of consumers and providers in future natural disasters are better met.”

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Senator Bill Dodd represents California’s 3rd Senate District, which includes all or portions of Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Yolo, Sacramento, and Contra Costa Counties. You can learn more about Senator Dodd at www.sen.ca.gov/dodd.