Category Archives: Social Services and Entitlements

Virginia Community Schools Redefined – Hubs for Government and Not-for-Profit Services in Inner Cities – Part 1 – the Current Framework

by James C. Sherlock

I believe a major approach to address both education and health care in Virginia’s inner cities is available if we will define it right and use it right.

Community schools.

One issue. Virginia’s official version of community schools, the Virginia Community School Framework, (the Framework) is fatally flawed.

The approach successful elsewhere brings government professional healthcare and social services and not-for-profit healthcare assets simultaneously to the schools and to the surrounding communities at a location centered around existing schools.

That model is a government and private not-for-profit services hub centered around schools in communities that need a lot of both. Lots of other goals fall into place and efficiencies are realized for both the community and the service providers if that is the approach.

That is not what Virginia has done in its 2019 Framework.

The rest of government and the not-for-profit sector are ignored and Virginia public schools are designed there to be increasingly responsible for things that they are not competent to do.

To see why, we only need to review the lists of persons who made up both the Advisory Committee and the Additional Contributors. Full of Ed.Ds and Ph.D’s in education, there was not a single person on either list with a job or career outside the field of education. Continue reading

Democrats Want to Raise Youngkin-Proposed Mental Health Budget Increase

Health Resources and Services Administration Mental Health Care Health Professional Shortage Areas, by State, as of September 30, 2022, data.HRSA.go.                 Courtesy Governor Youngkin

by James C. Sherlock

There is fundamental agreement in Richmond over mental health services.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

Virginia’s forecasts of long-term budget surpluses mean this year’s General Assembly has a chance to catch up with years of under-funding Virginia schools and the state’s behavioral health system, General Assembly Democrats say.

To govern is to choose. “Democrats” may wish they had used different words than “years of underfunding,” considering who had control in Richmond in 2020 and 2021.

But it is actually helpful that they now think even the governor’s proposal for a 20% increase in the mental health budget approved last year is not enough. If (a big if) more money can be spent efficiently and effectively.

The governor has proposed a $230 million increase in behavioral health program spending over what was approved last year.

So, as the old saying goes, they are just discussing price.

Let’s look at the behavioral health situation to see why. Continue reading

Virginia Agrees To Compensate Fishing Industry For Damage From Offshore Wind

by Steve Haner

Nine states, including Virginia, have agreed to establish a major compensation fund to pay their private commercial and recreational fishing companies for damages caused by offshore wind turbines.  

Three guesses where the money comes from. The announcement, made December 12, hints at it coming from project developers, but in Virginia of course that is a monopoly utility guaranteed by law to collect all costs from its customers. Dominion Energy Virginia’s planned 176-turbine Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind (CVOW) just got more expensive. In other cases and other states, also expect the bill to end up with energy consumers or taxpayers. Continue reading

Great Investigative Reporting of a Heartbreaking Story

Courtesy Asra Investigates

by James C. Sherlock

For a story that will simultaneously make you angry and break your heart, read Fathering While Black, by Asra Nomani and Debra Tisler.

It is the story of a guardian ad litem (GAL), Karen Keys-Gamarra, who is reported here to have systematically abused her position to pursue a Black father and his parents for the crime of loving and caring for his daughter while male.

The child’s mother was a junkie who exposed her baby to cocaine. The father is a gainfully employed paramedic in Stafford County with a clean record and clean drug tests. His own mother is a registered nurse and his father a retiree.

The GAL got an order from an Arlington J&D judge to take the child from the home of her father and grandparents last night.

The authors have practiced world-class investigative journalism in describing the case and the system — Arlington J&D judge, GAL and Child Protective Services — that worked together to seize the little girl. And put a gag order on her father and his parents.

If ethics violations were a crime, based on this reporting this case would be a Class 1 felony.

Now nobody in the system will comment.

Ms. Nomani and Ms. Tisler comment for them.  Thoroughly and compellingly.

Virginia Mental Health Services in Deep Trouble – A Survey

Eastern State Hospital. Courtesy Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development

by James C. Sherlock

Nov. 29 updates in blue.

Supply cannot begin to keep up with demand.

In this case, the consequences involve personal welfare and public safety. And they can be terrible in both cases.

Governor Youngkin will propose to the 2023 General Assembly additional funding and policy prescriptions for the state’s mental health system.

The state offers inpatient services, community-based government services, and Medicaid-funded services.  Medicare offers payments to participating hospitals. Private insurances offer coverage.

I say “offer,” because much of what policy prescribes has proven difficult to fill in practice.

Virginia’s mental health system is in deep trouble because of shortages of personnel and facilities to absorb the very steep rates of increases in persons needing assistance.

The personnel problems are twofold and affect both government and private services.

  1. Key personnel positions require trained specialists, the shortages of whom are manifest across the country; and
  2. Working conditions in mental health care are very stressful, physically demanding and dangerous, driving away badly needed low skilled workers who can easily find jobs elsewhere.

Medicaid programs offer services that private facilities and practitioners, facing the same labor shortages, have proven in some combination unable or unwilling to provide at Medicaid reimbursement rates. State-contracted Medicaid Managed Care Organizations (MMCOs) have not solved those problems.

So part of the answer is money, but we really don’t know how much. And in this case, money alone may not provide sufficient services to satisfy demand. Continue reading

Petersburg Resumes Important Actions Against City Code Violators — Homeless Needs Increase

Travel Inn was shut down by the ACE team in June. Courtesy Joyce Chu, Progress Index.

by James C. Sherlock

Sometimes absolutely necessary actions have more than one outcome.

Such is the case in Petersburg.

Joyce Chu of Petersburg’s indispensable Progress- Index last evening initiated a multi-part series on the impacts of the city’s closure due to safety violations of two motels used by otherwise homeless people.

Her first article makes a case for more government and charitable services for the people affected by the closures. Good for her. No one wants people living on the streets and everyone wants the kids in school.

She explains that the California Inn, OYO and Travel Inn motels, among a group of low cost motels right off of I-95, were

also hotbeds of crime, drug overdoses and prostitution mixed in with families with children, according to former residents and homeless advocates.

She points out that Petersburg has resumed (after a lengthy period when it did not) enforcing its zoning codes. A team called the ACE team — Abatement, Compliance, and Enforcement — is on task, run by the Fire Chief.

Code enforcement is an absolutely necessary step to revitalize the city.

So is helping those adversely affected.  -Hotel owners should be forced within the limits of the law to assist. Continue reading

Afghan Immigrants and Their Children in Virginia – Part 1

Courtesy of Virginia Department of Social Services

by James C. Sherlock

The flow of Afghan refugees into Virginia has been at a much higher volume than is generally appreciated.

I have data on Virginia resettlements of Afghanis from 2016 through the middle of 2021, when the total was 8,560.

The current total is far higher as a result of the Kabul airlift. A government survey reports that 41,000 of that group admitted to the U.S. settled in Texas, California and Virginia.

A significant majority of the Afghanis admitted between 2016 and the middle of 2021 have been granted Special Immigrant Visas and are lawful permanent residents.

Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) have been issued to those who took significant risks to support our military and civilian personnel in Afghanistan, were employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or our coalition forces in Afghanistan, or are a family member of someone who did.

I think I speak for all Virginians when I welcome them and thank them for their service.

I have embarked on an effort to understand the numbers and impact of those refugees on our institutions, especially our public schools.

And our impact on them. Continue reading

Youngkin Champions Licensing Reforms, Loosens Regulatory Barriers

by Eric Burk

The Virginia Board of Social Work has changed licensing regulations, making it easier for social workers licensed in other states to get licensed in Virginia.

There is a critical shortage in Virginia of mental health professionals, and this is a significant step by the Board of Social Work to help address this shortage,” Governor Glenn Youngkin said in a Wednesday press release. “A priority of my administration is to reduce state regulations and regulatory barriers, and this action shows how regulations can be streamlined to remove barriers to practice with the goal of bringing more mental health professionals to the Commonwealth.” Continue reading

The Left Never Rests (Part 3,783) – Vote Democratic

by James C. Sherlock

We have a glimpse into the near future in Virginia.

For those of my readers who thought that the left in the U.K. would sit still while the Cass Commission examines and reports on transgender care in Britain, think again.

Some transgender activists oppose the requirement for a clinical diagnosis of gender dysphoria before getting access to gender-altering drugs. They also oppose the participation of endocrinologists in the prescription of those drugs.

Takes too long. Too expensive. They might say no.

They have gotten in the U.K. what they demand. Witness a new U.K. National Health System “scheme,” as it is called, that is undoubtedly headed to the Virginia General Assembly.

It removes psychologists and psychiatrists from the loop in gender dysphoria diagnoses and gives the job to general practitioners, who can then directly prescribe hormone therapies without the participation of endocrinologists.

I reported that the Northam Administration added transgender services coverage to Medicaid on its last days in office. Is there anyone at all who doubts this new “scheme” will be added to Virginia Medicaid if the left gets in charge again? Continue reading

Virginia Needs Better Information Sharing to Provide Mandated Public Services to Illegals Efficiently and Effectively

by James C. Sherlock

I am on record as a persistent advocate of improving the quality of both schools and medical services for poor and minority citizens. It has been the main focus of my work for years.

In a directly related matter, we read, with different reactions depending upon our politics, of the struggles with uncontrolled immigration on border states on the one hand and D.C, New York City and Los Angeles on the other.

We are treated to the public spectacle of the mayors of sanctuary cities deploring massive new influxes of illegal border-crossers and asking for federal assistance. It provides one of the best object lessons in being careful what you ask for in recent public life.

All of that is interesting, but Virginians know that the problem is increasing. They know Virginia can’t fix it, and they want to know how Virginia will deal with it.

By law we owe illegals services. And we need to provide them efficiently and effectively both for humanitarian reasons and to ensure that citizens are not unnecessarily negatively affected.

There is work to do. Continue reading

ACA Marketplace Insurance Costs to Skyrocket? Wanna Bet?

by James C. Sherlock

We know it every time we see it. It is the time-honored Congressional ritual of “temporary” federal subsidies.

Such subsidies for nearly anything that are positioned originally as “temporary” tend to be extended and then often made permanent entitlements. As with everything else, the people who get subsidies care far more about preserving them than those who are not subsidized care about eliminating them.

For example, see the nation’s system for regulating peanut farming. The federal government subsidizes peanut farmers and their incomes by restricting supply.

The laws require a Federal license in order to grow peanuts. Very few licenses have been issued since the early 1940’s.  The result: Americans pay 50% more for home-grown peanuts than they would if the market was not restricted.

I can find no record that President Carter raised the issue.

In this case, concerning federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) subsidies, NBC news has alerted us to a pending issue.

During the open enrollment period for 2022 coverage, 307,946 Virginia residents enrolled in private qualified health plans (QHPs) through the Virginia exchange/marketplace.

It involves temporary federal subsidies to ACA Marketplace customers to keep demand high, supporting the prices that are paid to insurers and by insurers to hospitals and healthcare providers. These subsidies are set to expire.

The Kaiser Family Foundation published a study that shouts:

On average, premiums are set to rise by more than 50% for people getting health coverage through a (ACA) marketplace plan.

Wanna bet?

Continue reading

The “Occasional” Butchery of Children

By James C. Sherlock

Chloe Cole after childhood surgical transition to a boy (left) and de-transition to a girl (right) – Courtesy of Chloe Cole and the New York Post

The New York Post wrote recently:

At 12 years old, Chloe Cole decided she was transgender. At 13, she was put on puberty blockers and prescribed testosterone. At 15, she underwent a double mastectomy. Less than a year later, she realized she’d made a mistake.

Note the gracious acceptance of agency by this young woman, even though she made a “decision” at 12 that she was transgender.  Some clearly think that a child of twelve is mature enough to make such a decision.

We see no such agency proclaimed by her parents, pediatrician, endocrinologist or psychologist.  I am sure they were “supporting” that child.

No agency is apparently accepted by the state in which she lived.  The state in which her doctors were licensed.

Let’s examine the agency of the adult players in such matters in Virginia.

Continue reading

Home Price Volatility and Virginia Property Taxes

Case-Schiller Home Price Index – National

by James C. Sherlock

Housing prices have more than doubled since 2012, reflecting shortages of supply and the resulting speculation. The increasing slope of those curves above is not comforting.

Prices have soared over 20% in a year. Mortgage rates are up. What could possibly happen next? Most can figure that out.

But this article is about the effects on local government property taxes of what most predict will be extreme volatility in the housing market going forward.

How are Virginia real property taxes adjusted to mitigate the effects on both property owner tax bills and government receipts in this boom and very likely bust cycle?

We’ll look at the law. Continue reading

Last Stand for a Higher Standard Deduction

by Steve Haner

First published this morning by the Thomas Jefferson Institute for Public Policy.

The argument now dividing the General Assembly on partisan lines is not whether to cut the state income tax, but for whom. The House of Delegates goes big with a broad tax cut that brings Virginia into line with other states, but the Senate only wants small changes aimed at smaller groups of taxpayers. Continue reading

The Mayor of Alexandria Anticipated my Column

by James C. Sherlock

We scribblers at Bacon’s Rebellion pride ourselves on being leaders in the progressive thought process. In acknowledgment of the wisdom in my column that called out the observable inefficiency of government, I give you:

The city of Alexandria, Virginia, is joining a growing number of cities across the U.S. that are sending money to poor residents, no strings attached.

Bolstered by nearly $60 million in federal pandemic relief money, the independent jurisdiction in Northern Virginia plans to begin sending $500 debit cards to 150 families each month for two years, starting sometime this fall. The initiative was inspired partly by feedback city leaders solicited from residents about how the cash infusion should be used, says Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson.

The national conversation about cash assistance has been changing, Wilson says. Last year, former Stockton mayor Michael D. Tubbs launched a national network of city leaders called Mayors for a Guaranteed Income. The coalition has grown to include mayors from almost 60 cities, from Los Angeles to Jackson, Mississippi. Mayors in the coalition are part of a generation of leaders who are thinking more about how to get immediate assistance to people in need, rather than forcing them into complex government programs that ration public assistance through layers of bureaucracy, Wilson says.

Continue reading