California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
January 19, 2023, Board Meeting
The California Victim Compensation Board (Board) convened its meeting in open session upon the call of the Chair, Gabriel Ravel, General Counsel of the Government Operations Agency, acting for, and in the absence of Amy Tong, Secretary of the Government Operations Agency, at 400 R Street, Room 330, Sacramento, California, on Thursday, January 19, 2023, at 10:01 a.m. Appearing via Zoom was Member Diana Becton, District Attorney, and Member Malia Cohen, State Controller.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier, attended in person at 400 R Street, Sacramento, California. Board Liaison, Andrea Burrell, was also present and recorded the meeting.
Item 1. Approval of the Minutes of the November 17, 2022, Board Meeting
Member Becton moved approval of the Minutes for the November 17, 2022, Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Chair Ravel. An aye vote being cast by Chair Ravel and Member Becton (Member Cohen abstained as she was not present at the November 17, 2022, Board meeting), the Board approved the minutes of the November 17, 2022, Board meeting.
Item 2. Public Comment
The Board opened the meeting for public comment and Ms. Burrell reminded everyone that, consistent with the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act, items not on the agenda may not be discussed at this time but may be put on a future agenda. (Gov. Code, § 11125.7.)
Margaret Petros appeared via Zoom. Ms. Petros welcomed Controller Cohen to the Board and stated she hoped she stayed as an active member of this Board rather than appoint a representative, because it is really important, it’s the only program that helps victims and we need elected officials to be present and active.
Ms. Petros continued by offering comments on the Annual Report for fiscal year 2021/2022. She stated that she reviewed it a couple of days ago and was disappointed at the reductions in benefits, the actual payments to victims that have gone down statewide. She indicated it is troubling to her and not including this information in the Annual Report is also a concern for her. Ms. Petros noted that the Annual Report is listed on the CalVCB website as a Supplemental Report, and that it shows the details of every County and how much they process to crime victims. She understands two years prior to the current fiscal year Santa Clara brought crime victims $2.2 million; in the 2021 fiscal year, $1.5 million; and then last fiscal year only $788,000. She asked, “How could that be?” She argued that it is not because there has been less crimes and she asked the Board to have a special hearing on this. Ms.
Petros continued stating that it seemed like every county in the report had less payments to crime victims. She noted that San Mateo County has gone down to only $230,000, compared
to the year before at $523,000. She stated CalVCB is paying millions more to administer this program and paying counties to help with that effort. Ms. Petros explained that she knows this program well because she managed victim compensation in Santa Clara County and noted that in her last year with that county, they garnered approximately $3.6 million to crime victims. She is only looking at these statistics once a year, but stated the Board management is looking at the data every day and her question is, “What has management done all along throughout last year to control it?”
Ms. Petros continued by noting that CalVCB got $3 million dollars from the Governor’s office to study this issue, but CalVCB knows where the problems are, and it is not about victims not finding out about the program. In her opinion, those that find it are not getting help. If CalVCB looks at how much they paid in funeral burial and compares that to how much was paid in support loss to those families, the Board will figure out very few are paying attention to paying families who lost a loved one who was working earning income and supporting their family.
She requested the Board keep that in mind.
Ms. Petros concluded by thanking the Board for listening to comments. Chair Ravel thanked Ms. Petros for her commentary.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on several items:
To start, Ms. Gledhill welcomed Controller Cohen to the California Victim Compensation Board. Ms. Gledhill stated she looks forward to Controller Cohen’s participation and committed to being available to assist Controller Cohen in any way she can.
Ms. Gledhill continued by noting the first three weeks of 2023 have already been busy, and went on to provide some highlights since the last meeting.
Ms. Gledhill attended a Victim Compensation Subject Matter Expert Roundtable in Washington, D.C., hosted by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Victims of Crime, or OVC last week. The roundtable included about eight states and various representatives of advocacy groups with an interest in victim compensation.
The meeting was to review the feedback the Office of Victims of Crime has been receiving about how state compensation programs operate. OVC is considering promulgating new federal regulations and has been soliciting feedback from various stakeholders. There was a good discussion with a variety of viewpoints at the meeting.
Ms. Gledhill noted that California is not only the oldest state compensation program, but often the leader in many areas and that came through in last week’s roundtable. It is not yet clear
when the Federal Government will promulgate the new regulations, which are important because they could change how CalVCB uses its federal grant money. She promised to keep the Board updated on this matter.
Ms. Gledhill continued by reminding the Board that January is Human Trafficking Awareness Month and CalVCB launched a social media campaign and issued a press release highlighting the resources available to Human Trafficking victims through CalVCB.
Three years ago, CalVCB began authorizing income loss compensation for victims of sex and labor trafficking. In that time, CalVCB has approved 590 human trafficking claims and paid victims nearly 4.5 million dollars in lost wages. In addition to income loss compensation, which covers up to $20,000 for a two-year period, CalVCB can reimburse survivors for other expenses related to human trafficking. This includes medical, dental, and mental health treatment, home security and relocation.
Ms. Gledhill next updated the Board about the Forced or Involuntary Sterilization Compensation Program and noted that on December 31, CalVCB reached the halfway point of the Program, which began taking applications on January 1, 2022, and is set to expire on December 31, 2023. The program provides compensation to survivors of state-sponsored sterilization conducted pursuant to eugenics laws that existed in the State of California between 1909 and 1979, and to survivors of involuntary sterilizations of people in California prisons after 1979.
CalVCB continues to work hard to get the word out about the program and to try to reach the estimated 600 survivors of forced or coercive sterilizations who remain alive and are eligible for compensation. CalVCB has sent more than 900 posters to state prisons to post in common areas and housing units. Letters have been sent to everyone the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation has identified as having had a sterilization procedure. Also, CalVCB sent posters and fact sheets to 500 libraries across the state and 1,000 skilled nursing facilities.
Further, CalVCB contracted with a marketing firm to conduct an advertising campaign that got underway in October with social media ads. Just this week radio and TV ads were launched and will air through October of this year.
To date, more than 300 applications have been received and 57 have been approved. CalVCB knows there are more survivors out there and will continue to do everything it can to reach them.
Next, Ms. Gledhill discussed the January Budget Proposal, which was released by the Governor last week. The proposed budget includes $39.5 million in General Fund backfill to the State Restitution Fund, which is consistent with what was originally projected last year, and
which will ensure CalVCB has sufficient funding to continue to make payments to qualified victims.
Continuing with her discussion of the Governor’s Budget, Ms. Gledhill reported that the anticipated savings from Proposition 47, a portion of which we receive to fund grants for Trauma Recovery Centers or TRCs, is significantly lower than last year. However, she reminded everyone there was extra money allocated to TRCs in the current budget that may offset this reduction. CalVCB will lay out the complete TRC picture for the Board in March.
The Legislature will start holding budget hearings now and CalVCB will continue to participate in the process and monitor any changes.
With regards to outreach, Ms. Gledhill reported that CalVCB is working on the $3 million dollars that was received in the current year budget for a Public Awareness Campaign to help provide outreach to underserved communities. Victim applications have gone down over the last couple of years and, while CalVCB recognizes this, it believes it is mostly attributable to the pandemic. But CalVCB is always looking for ways to effectively reach more victims of crime to get them the help and services they need.
Lastly, Ms. Gledhill stated, as part of the outreach effort, CalVCB partnered with the State Office of Data and Innovation, also known as ODI, for research on how CalVCB can better reach crime victims.
After a six-week sprint, ODI delivered a report with several recommendations that are going to help guide the work of the vendor that CalVCB will be contracting with for the 3-year outreach campaign. Ms. Gledhill thanked ODI and the UC Berkeley Possibilities Lab for their work, partnership on this important topic, and valuable input. CalVCB will continue to explore ways we can work together in the future to best help victims.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates.
Item 4. Contract Update
The Contract Update was presented by Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill.
Ms. Gledhill noted the Contract Report was purely informational as all items are under the
$200,000 delegated limit.
Item 5. Approval of the 2023 Rulemaking Calendar
The Approval of the 2023 Rulemaking Calendar was presented by Chief Counsel Kim Gauthier.
Ms. Gauthier explained that every year the Office of Administrative Law, which is the state entity responsible for reviewing and approving all regulations in the state of California, requests that state departments and entities submit for their consideration and publication a rulemaking calendar of regulations that the state entity intends to either revise and/or promulgate so that the Office of Administrative Law may calendar their work and also publish for the public information regarding what rulemaking packages will be coming before them. Item 5 is CalVCB’s request for approval to submit CalVCB’s 2023 Rulemaking Calendar to the Office of Administrative Law. It includes proposed changes to regulations in the areas of the Victims Compensation Program, the Good Samaritan Program, and possibly the Penal Code section 4900 cases.
Ms. Gauthier cautioned that this is just the first step in the process, and this is only the request for approval to submit the Rulemaking Calendar. CalVCB will, of course, bring back to the Board any proposed changes to the regulations for review and consideration before it is submitted to the Office of Administrative Law and the formal rulemaking process begins. The process will include a public comment period for the public as well as potentially a hearing.
The Board will approve the final draft regulations before they are submitted to the Office of Administrative Law.
Finally, Ms. Gauthier requested the Board’s approval of the calendar and its submission to the Office of Administrative Law.
Member Becton moved to approve the 2023 Rulemaking Calendar and authorized staff to submit the calendar to the Office of Administrative Law. The motion was seconded by Member Cohen. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 6. Proposal to Approve Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award
The Proposal to Approve the Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award was presented by Deputy Executive Officer of the External Affairs Division, Andrew LaMar.
Mr. LaMar stated the 2022-23 state budget provided $23 million in additional funding for Trauma Recovery Centers. That included $5 million to create a Regional Trauma Recovery Center Pilot Program.
A Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) is an organization that helps victims of violent crimes by providing trauma-informed services that include assertive outreach to underserved populations, comprehensive evidence-based mental health services, and coordinated care tailored to each victim’s needs.
CalVCB presently funds 18 TRCs through grants.
The Regional TRC Pilot Program aims to extend TRC services into rural and underserved areas by funding satellite offices to be run by existing TRCs that partner with community organizations in those areas. The budget directed that $2.5 million be used for two such locations in Northern California and $2.5 million for two in Central California.
Mr. LaMar reported that at the CalVCB November Board meeting, the Board approved awarding a $2.5 million dollar grant to the Alameda County Family Justice Center to establish satellite offices in Sonoma and Sacramento Counties – neither of which currently have a TRC. They will be located in Santa Rosa and Sacramento.
Because the initial Notice of Funding Availability or NOFA, for pilot program grants did not elicit any applications to serve the Central California locations, CalVCB issued another NOFA on November 7 specifically targeting those areas. CalVCB subsequently received three applications by the December 6 submission deadline.
Staff evaluated and scored the three applications. The application from Amanecer Community Counseling Services of Los Angeles County received the highest score. Amanecer will collaborate with CommonSpirit Health, formerly known as Dignity Health, a non-profit hospital provider, to deliver TRC services at St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Stockton, Mercy Hospital Downtown in Bakersfield, and Mercy Hospital Southwest in Bakersfield.
The two counties served, San Joaquin and Kern, are mostly rural with significant non-English speaking populations, including farm workers and new immigrants, and high rates of poverty and homelessness.
Mr. Lamar noted that Amanecer has an outstanding track record in Los Angeles County, and a long-standing partnership with CommonSpirit Health through the existing hospital system. The proposed satellite offices will offer on-site and virtual, evidence-based mental health and support services. Amanecer expects to service 1,800 clients and conduct 35 training courses to local organizations and law enforcement over the course of the grant.
Mr. Lamar recommended awarding the Regional TRC Pilot Program grant of $2.5 million for the Central California Locations to Amanecer Community Counseling Services.
Chair Ravel thanked Mr. LaMar, and stated that he was particularly pleased to see that CalVCB’s renewed efforts generated so much interest in the program and that there will be three centers in these underserved locations for these services.
Member Becton moved to adopt the Proposed Regional Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award. The motion was seconded by Member Cohen. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Item 7. Proposed Mental Health Updates – Telehealth
The Proposed Mental Health Updates regarding Telehealth item was presented by Deputy Executive Officer of the Victim Compensation Program, Vincent Walker.
To start, Mr. Walker stated CalVCB would like to propose an update to the Mental Health Guidelines that will remove the session limits when treatment is provided via Telehealth.
The California Victim Compensation Board has the authority pursuant to Government Code section 13957.2 to establish maximum rates and service limitations for reimbursement of mental health and counseling services.
Reimbursement of mental health expenses by CalVCB is based on definitions, session limitations, documentation requirements, and other criteria set forth in the CalVCB Mental Health Guidelines.
Per the Board of Behavioral Sciences, “Telehealth” means the mode of delivering health care services and public health via information communication technologies to facilitate the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of a patient’s health care. There are currently no limits set forth by the various California Mental Health Licensing Boards regarding the number of telehealth sessions that can be provided.
Since January 1, 2017, the CalVCB Guidelines have limited reimbursement of telehealth sessions to five, unless a Telehealth Verification form is submitted and approved. Reasons for the form to be approved included:
- Claimant requires telehealth due to clinical necessity; or
- Claimant lives in an area where no clinical resources are available.
Mr. Walker discussed how, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, CalVCB suspended this requirement to accommodate clinical needs and comply with Governor Newsom’s April 2020 Executive Order N-43-20. The Executive Order helped facilitate and expand the use of telehealth services and ensure that Californians impacted by COVID-19 had access to medical care, and protected health care workers by reducing unnecessary in-person medical consultations and treatment. The Executive Order also relaxed or eliminated enforcement of methods of delivery, normal consent requirements, and liability of providers for delivery of mental health services via telehealth methods.
On October 17, 2022, Governor Newsom announced that the COVID-19 State of Emergency and associated Executive Orders will end on February 28, 2023. Active waivers issued under the State of Emergency and Executive Orders will also expire. Without Board action, CalVCB Telehealth sessions will revert to a limit of five, except in certain circumstances. CalVCB has
heard from claimants and providers alike that telehealth has allowed easier and better access to mental health services.
Mr. Walker explained that CalVCB is requesting approval to remove telehealth session limitations from the Guidelines, effective March 1, 2023. Mental health session limits that are in place now will apply to all mental health services, regardless of how they are delivered.
Removal of this requirement will increase flexibility of providers and claimants, increase access to mental health treatment for claimants, and align with California’s Licensing Boards policies and requirements.
Mr. Walker noted that, upon approval, an informational copy of the updated Guidelines would be filed with the Secretary of State.
Member Becton moved to approve the proposed Mental Health Updates regarding Telehealth. The motion was seconded by Member Cohen. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
The Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Counsel at 10:26 a.m. pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1-205 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) at 10:27 a.m.
Member Becton moved to approve items 1 through 205 of the Victim Compensation Program. Member Cohen seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the proposed decisions were adopted.
**Ms. Margaret Petros requested to offer public comment regarding an item the Board considered during Closed Session. Chair Ravel informed Ms. Petros that the Board does not permit public comment for Closed Session Items. Chair Ravel explained that Ms. Petros is welcome to submit further comments and advocacy to the Board on the item in question through the normal business channels relevant to appeals and reconsiderations.
Ms. Petros thanked the Board.
Member Becton moved the adjournment of the January Board meeting. Member Cohen seconded the motion. The motion was adopted by a unanimous vote of the Board and the meeting was adjourned at 10:29 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, March 16, 2023.