On July 1, the Governor signed the State Budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. NASW-CA advocates for key budget issues each year to ensure our priorities, which are informed by our social work ethics, are funded by the state. This year we were successful in getting many of our priorities included in the State Budget. This includes:
- Workforce – The budget rejects a proposal to delay critical workforce proposals. No longer delayed will be the second year of grants to schools of social work to increase slots in MSW programs.
- SSI/SSP grants – The final budget includes an 8.6 percent increase for the state portion of the SSI/SSP grant, effective January 1, 2024.
- Public Defender/Social Worker grants – The signed budget reinstates a budget cut for grants to public defender’s offices which were cut in the Governor’s January budget proposal. These grants also fund social workers who work in public defender’s offices. This funding will be used to implement recent criminal justice reforms that will allow low level offenders to reduce their sentences.
- Foster Family Agencies – The budget includes $ 8 million to provide a one-time increase to the current rates paid to foster family agencies which will help to retain the social work workforce by augmenting their salaries.
We also successfully advocated with other partners to improve the CalWORKs program by reducing punitive penalties and the implementation of a pilot program to ensure that there is a $50 minimum for CalFRESH grants. We also worked to provide continuous coverage, including postpartum care for infants and birthing parents, to 12 months. Lastly, we worked with others to ensure the budget included a housing supplement for foster youth placed in Supervised Independent Living Placements to prevent youth homelessness.
This was a very tough budget year with a budget deficit of $31.5 Billion. There was also more uncertainty this year with most tax filers being granted an extension to file their taxes until mid-October because of storm-related disasters in many counties. Given these parameters, we were happy that many of our priorities were funded, but we look forward to better budgets in the future.