Faith-Based Groups in Kern County May Lose Public Funds for Drug Treatment Programs
Faith-based institutions that operate substance abuse programs in Kern County are "at risk" of losing public funds because of Proposition 36, the voter-approved initiative that calls for most nonviolent first- and second-time drug offenders to be directed toward treatment instead of jail, the Bakersfield Californian reports. Under Proposition 36, drug offenders must be sent to recovery programs that have been certified by the state. Lily Alvarez, behavioral health administrator for the county's mental health department, said there are many licensed programs in the county, but none of them are faith-based. "If (faith-based groups) want to deliver treatment, they need to go to the state ... and get licensed," she said. However, the Californian reports that many programs cannot afford to meet government standards. John Barella, director of Believers in Jesus, said, "You have to pretty much restructure your programs to fit requirements. You have to make structure changes and administration changes that we don't have the money to do." Leaders of faith-based groups say that continued public funding would help them improve services for their clients. Rev. Daniel Gorman, executive director of the Bakersfield Rescue Mission, said, "[Government agencies] were not paying for the program, as far as the religious concept, they were just paying for the room and board, housing and food, and that was a great blessing." Gorman added, "We need to put it very simple, that Prop. 36 money or state money is not going to Christian education, but it's going to room and board to help a person who has made a choice to take a program that not always fits with the mental health program requirements. We have a proven record towards human services" (Machuca, Bakersfield Californian, 9/15).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.