Assembly Human Services Committee approves two of Jones’s measures

Legislation would prioritize social workers to receive PPE during pandemics and help protect kids from child labor traffickers

Two measures, authored by Senator Brian W. Jones (R-Santee), were both unanimously approved today by the Assembly Human Services Committee.

Jones’s Senate Bill 549 will make sure that when social workers are declared “essential workers” during any state of emergency, that they are also prioritized to receive personal protective equipment (PPE), just as all other essential workers are.  During the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, most social workers were not given priority to receive PPE and as a result, they have often had to work from home online or in-person in unsafe conditions.

“In-person visits and meetings with their clients – including the elderly, foster children and those with intellectual disabilities – are a vital part of a social worker’s job,” stated Senator Brian Jones.  “We need to make sure our social workers are given priority for PPE so they can work out ‘in the field’ safely for both them and their clients.”

The Service Employees International Union California (SEIU California) and the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter (NASW-CA) are co-sponsoring SB 549.

Senate Bill 584, also authored by Jones, expands previous legislation (AB 865 by Assemblymember Eloise Gomez Reyes – 2019), which required resource family training to educate foster parents on how to care for children who have experienced, or are at risk of experiencing, commercial sexual exploitation (child sex trafficking).  However, the chaptered version of that bill did not include training on child labor trafficking, despite its prevalence in California, specifically among foster youth.  SB 584 adds “child labor trafficking” to the list of subjects foster families are required to receive training and information about.

“Foster kids are particularly vulnerable to being targeted by criminals for child labor trafficking,” stated Senator Brian W. Jones.  “This measure will require that the family training already provided to foster parents also includes critical information to protect children who have been victims of child labor trafficking or are more likely to become targets of child labor trafficking.  Being a foster kid is challenging enough and we need to help prevent the threat of them being forced into child labor trafficking.”

SB 584 is based on recommendations of, and is supported by, the California Little Hoover Commission and the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking.

Both SB 549 and 584 now go to the Assembly Appropriations Committee for consideration.