Gov. Jerry Brown signs bill boosting in-home services during disasters

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Seniors and disabled people will be in line for improved in-home support services during natural disasters, including wildfires, under a bill signed this week by Gov. Jerry Brown.

The measure, authored by state Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, would, among other things, authorize county welfare departments to approve more hours for in-home support service workers to assist their clients during a disaster.

It also expedites funding from the state Office of Emergency Services for clients to repair damaged or destroyed dwellings, and establishes a protocol for prompt replacement of caregivers’ paychecks lost or destroyed in a disaster.

“Even when disaster strikes, we must continue to care for our most vulnerable populations,” Dodd said in a press release. The new law “will ensure a continuity of care for the disabled and elderly,” he said.

Caregivers earn “very low wages,” Dodd said, for providing personal care, such as feeding, bathing, house cleaning and cooking for low-income seniors and disabled people.

Dodd’s bill, SB 1040, was prompted by last year’s devastating North Bay wildfires and Southern California mudslides that Dodd said prevented people from continuing to receive services while they were evacuated to shelters.

The bill, which was approved by lawmakers last month, was signed by the governor late Wednesday.

In-Home Supportive Services, the state’s largest long-term care program, helps about 500,000 low-income seniors and disabled people live safely at home rather than in costly care facilities. Most clients have incomes of less than $1,000 a month and have $2,000 or less in personal assets.

Dodd’s bill was supported by the California Association of Public Authorities for In-Home Supportive Services, the United Domestic Workers union and the California Commission on Aging.

You can reach Staff Writer Guy Kovner at 707-521-5457 or On Twitter @guykovner.

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