Mental Heath is an issue within our state that needs to be addressed. I have been an advocate for mental health issues since I was elected to office in 2011.
During this last legislative session, I introduced Assembly Bill 252, as an extension of Assembly Bill 46 and Assembly Bill 343 from the 2017 legislative session. The standards for the Supportive Living Services (SLA) set by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health in 2014, set the operational structure for the Community Based Living Arrangement (CBLA) homes. In 2015 a provider of 15 homes were shut down due to failure of payments to the homes, and the clients were living in squalor. From hearing these stories, I knew that we could put policy in place to give recipients living in the CBLA homes the services they need.
Assembly Bill 252 made it so that any provider and owner of a CBLA must follow regulations set by the Division of Public and Behavioral Health. These regulations consist of first time certifications, recertifications and regulations and standards within the CBLA home that must be met. When a provider first seeks certification for a CBLA, they must attend a training regarding labor laws. Providers need to know the standards for hiring staff working within the home to include a proper wage, hiring supervisors who speak the language of the clients, and hiring licensed professionals who will have an individualized plan for each recipient within the home. These standards will ensure that clients are receiving the resources necessary to be successful. No person under the age of 18 is allowed to live in the CBLA homes, as it is not appropriate living space for a child. For recertification, a provider must continue following the regulations set by the division, as well as reimburse the state for any over billing done by the CBLA. Failure to comply with regulations and payment will cause the removal of a certification, and they cannot renew. Within the CBLA homes a phone number is posted for anyone to make complaints about the housing to the division.
I believe that these changes will help keep providers of CBLA homes accountable in providing recipients the necessary housing space, and care needed. Our efforts do not stop here. We will continue to work on important issues around this vulnerable group.