Ventura County To Lay Off 14 Mental Health Employees
Fourteen mental health workers at the Ventura County Behavioral Health Department will be laid off as of June 21, and county administrators said more job cuts are likely because of a "worsening budget crunch," the Los Angeles Times reports. All of the therapists work in public mental health clinics, where they help adults with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses to live on their own. The layoffs are expected to receive formal approval from the county Board of Supervisors in two weeks. The 600 patients they help will be added to the caseloads of remaining workers, Linda Shulman, acting director of the department, said. "We're looking at restructuring things to deal with the higher caseloads," Shulman said, adding, "But worst-case scenario, we will have to reduce services to our clients." County officials do not know how much funding the state will cut from county-operated programs; for fiscal year 2003-2004, the state has already eliminated funding for a program aimed at keeping mentally ill adults out of hospitals by giving them community housing, jobs, health care and other assistance, a move that will cost Ventura County $3.6 million, according to Shulman. She added that the county Behavioral Health Department's budget gap will probably be $6 million and will necessitate more layoffs unless new funds are found. County Executive Officer Johnny Johnston said that about 100 county employees could get laid off because of a county budget gap of at least $15 million. "This crisis is real and a whole lot of people are going to suffer, both employees and people who are getting county services. The bottom line is, we are going to provide fewer services with fewer people," Supervisor Steve Bennett said (Saillant, Los Angeles Times, 5/2).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.