California Victim Compensation Board
Open Meeting Minutes
July 20, 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, July 20, 2023, at 9:59 a.m. Also present was Member Evan Johnson, acting for, and in the absence of, Malia Cohen, Controller, and Member Diana Becton, District Attorney.
Executive Officer Lynda Gledhill, and Acting Chief Counsel Laura Simpton 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 May 18, 2023, Board Meeting
Member Johnson moved approval of the Minutes for the May 18, 2023, Board Meeting. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
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.) No one offered any public comment.
Item 3. Executive Officer Statement
Executive Officer Gledhill updated the Board on a few items:
To start, Ms. Gledhill informed the Board that CalVCB has seen an increase in processing times. Over the past year, the Program has seen a steady increase in vacancies, recruiting and retaining qualified staff has been a major challenge. As a result, the number of days it takes to process an application or reimburse a bill has also increased.
Program management has different ways of managing workload, hiring strategies, and efforts to reduce workload and bring staff on board quicker; however, the result has been an overall increase in processing times. This information will be reflected in the annual report that will be presented to the Board in September.
We recognize that these hiring issues are not unique to CalVCB, but since our vacancies impact the timeline for payments to victims, we have prioritized a concentrated effort over the next several months to target faster hiring practices and retention of staff. We are still well within our 90-day statutory requirement, but it is something that we track closely and wanted to bring to the Board’s attention.
Ms. Gledhill continued, stating the CalVCB team has been partnering with the Department of Technology (CDT) on several efforts to improve and modernize our technology systems. One such effort is with the Department of Technology’s Technology Modernization Fund (TMF) team, which conducted a thorough analysis and is considering the feasibility implementing an accounting adjustment module to the Cares System, which is CalVCB’s major claims processing system.
Despite being approved for $1.65 million to support this modernization effort with additional analysis, it was determined that it would not be fiscally responsible to continue pursuing modernization efforts due to the existing limitations within the Cares System, which is quite a few years old and not based on modern technology.
CalVCB and CDT’s Technology Modernization Team agreed to work together to explore options to replace the Cares System with a more modern, agile solution and to pursue a proof of concept through the TMF partnership. The CalVCB is currently exploring this option and continues to work closely with the CDT team. Once this is complete, CalVCB will seek funding approval from the TMF selection committee and will keep the Board informed of this important project.
Next, Ms. Gledhill shared a major accomplishment by the Board. The Administration Division and the Information Technology Division worked for more than a year on a CDT-delegated project developing a web-based system called the Victim Pass-Through System (VPT). This tracks and processes the payments made by offenders to victims or their designated payees.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) collects the payments from offenders across the state and passes it to CalVCB. The new VPT system that went live on July 10, 2023, enables the Board to provide accurate, secure, and efficient services to victims of crime. The VPT system has historical data as far back as February 2006, and 3.9 million records of payments collected from offenders totaling upwards of $172 million.
Previously, these records were managed by a myriad of Excel worksheets and manual processes. The new VPT system was designed, developed, and tested all by CalVCB staff – the Restitution Recovery Unit, which manages this program, the Information Technology Division, the training team who helped develop all the training materials, and with great leadership from the executive team. This will make a substantial change not only for staff but for victims.
Finally, Ms. Gledhill reminded everyone that effective January 1, 2023, CalVCB has the authority to pay PC 4900 claims directly if sufficient funds are available as appropriated by the Legislature. With the change in how claims are paid, the legislature also requested that CalVCB submit an annual report to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) on approved claims that were paid in the prior fiscal year. The report is due on or before September 1 of each year. Staff is currently drafting that report and will provide it to the JLBC, and a copy will be provided to all the Board members.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Gledhill for the updates. Chair Ravel stated he understands about the recruitment and retention issues and acknowledged departments are experiencing similar issues across the state.
Item 4. Legislative Update
The Legislative Update was presented by Deputy Executive Officer Katie Cardenas.
Ms. Cardenas noted that the Legislature is in summer recess and will return on August 14 for the final weeks of the session.
Ms. Cardenas updated the Board on the status of several bills:
- AB 1187 by Assembly Member Quirk-Silva would authorize CalVCB to reimburse services provided by Child Life Specialists. This bill is awaiting its final vote on the Senate Floor.
- AB 997 by Assembly Member Gipson, which would require CalVCB to compensate mental health services for individuals with successful erroneous conviction claims, has been placed on the Suspense File in the Senate Appropriations Committee and will be considered in August.
- AB 1186 by Assembly Member Bonta, which would require CalVCB to distribute payment of juvenile restitution orders, will be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August.
- SB 544 by Senator Laird, which would amend the Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act to remove certain teleconference requirements, will be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee in August.
- AB 56 by Assembly Member Lackey, which would expand eligibility for compensation by CalVCB to include solely emotional injuries from certain felony violations, has been placed on the Senate Inactive File.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Cardenas for the updates.
Item 5. Contract Update
The Contract Update was presented by Deputy Executive Officer Shawn Ramirez.
Ms. Ramirez stated that the Contract Report included two contracts that require Board action.
First, Ms. Ramirez requested the Board’s approval of the contract with Civilian, Inc. in the amount of $3 million. This contract will provide a comprehensive statewide public awareness campaign to increase awareness of Californians regarding CalVCB’s programs and services.
Second, Ms. Ramirez requested the Board’s approval of the contract with the State Controller’s Office (SCO) in the amount of $324,000 for a three-year term ending June 30, 2026. This is to provide ongoing and uninterrupted services for the Victim Pass Thru Program; a program that exchanges information with the SCO Payment Delivery System.
Chairperson Ravel thanked Ms. Ramirez.
Member Johnson questioned what metrics CalVCB had in place to make sure the outreach program with Civilian, Inc. is a success.
Ms. Gledhill responded that there are very clear metrics required in the contract to measure how many people are being reached and whether or not that successfully translates into knowledge of the program and applications. The language is very specific about CalVCB targeting certain areas of the state and communities that may not have knowledge of the program.
Member Johnson moved to approve the Executive Officer’s execution of the contract with Civilian, Inc. in the amount of $3 million. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
Member Ravel moved to approve the Executive Officer’s execution of the contract with the State Controller’s Office in the amount of $324,000. The motion was seconded by Member Becton. The motion passed based on the votes of Member Becton and Chair Ravel; Member Johnson abstained from voting on this item.
Item 6. Proposal to Approve the Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award
The Proposal to Approve the Regional Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award was presented by Deputy Executive Officer Katie Cardenas.
Ms. Cardenas reminded the board that CalVCB is charged with administering the trauma recovery center grant process and as a part of the 2022-23 Budget Act, $5 million was provided to establish a Regional Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) Pilot Program. with satellite offices in rural or underserved areas. The TRC satellite offices were required to be affiliated with existing TRCs.
CalVCB posted a Notice of Funds Available (NOFA) on September 14, 2022, for the regional TRC pilot program in both Northern and Central California. The pilot program for Central California was awarded to Amanacer Community Counseling Service to provide services in San Joaquin and Kern Counties. This grant was executed on June 1, 2023.
CalVCB received one application for Northern California and on November 17, 2022, the Board approved awarding $2.5 million to the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office to provide TRC services in Sacramento and Sonoma Counties. On May 1, 2023, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office officially notified CalVCB that they would not be accepting the previously awarded grant.
On May 5, 2023, CalVCB reposted the Northern California NOFA and received one application from the Solano Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner-Sexual Assault Response Team (SANE-SART). This organization currently operates the Solano Courage Center TRC. The application met the minimum qualifications and received a passing score.
The application described how SANE-SART will partner with the Monarch Justice Center in Napa and the Family Justice Center in Santa Rosa – neither of which currently has a TRC. The large geographic area and rural nature of these counties creates barriers to access services and heightens risk, especially for domestic violence victims. Both Napa and Sonoma Counties have a relatively large immigrant population and there are many challenges faced by migrant workers and their families in the region. The application also highlighted that Sonoma County has a high number of labor trafficking victims.
A recent needs assessment in Napa County revealed that mixed-status families, the Latino community, and the LGBTQ community are underserved and have limited access to mental health providers. Thus, the TRC cited a need for mental health providers. Specifically, there are only three providers per 100,000 people currently available in Napa, compared to California’s overall rate of five providers per 100,000 people.
The TRC pilot award will allow SANE-SART to expand TRC services to Napa and Sonoma Counties by partnering with Aldea, a community social services and behavioral health agency with over 50 years of experience providing trauma-informed care in underserved communities. This program will also add a team of six mental health child and adult clinicians to provide essential trauma recovery services. Mental health services will be provided in-person and virtually.
Staff recommended awarding SANE-SART a grant for $2.5 million to establish and run the satellite offices. Chair Ravel thanked Ms. Cardenas, and stated he is happy that a qualified applicant will be serving a community that is currently underserved.
Member Becton moved to adopt the Proposed Regional Trauma Recovery Center Grant Award. The motion was seconded by Member Johnson. By a unanimous vote of the Board, the motion passed.
The Board adjourned into Closed Session with the Chief Executive Officer and Acting Chief Counsel at 10:28 a.m. pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (e) to discuss pending litigation and pursuant to Government Code Section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) to deliberate on proposed decision numbers 1 through 104 of the Victim Compensation Program.
The Board reconvened in Open Session pursuant to Government Code section 11126, subdivision (c)(3) at 10:43 a.m.
Member Becton moved to approve items 1 through 104 of the Victim Compensation Program. Member Johnson seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the proposed decisions were adopted.
Member Becton moved the adjournment of the July Board meeting. Member Johnson seconded the motion. The motion was approved by a unanimous vote of the Board and the meeting was adjourned at 10:44 a.m.
Next Board Meeting
The next Board meeting is scheduled for Thursday, September 14, 2023.