Contracted Welfare in LA County – a thing of the past?

As you know, I don’t work directly for the County of Los Angeles – I work on their behalf as an employee of a contracted agency.
This is the first time I have worked for an actual “for profit” company. Previously I worked on Skid Row for LAMP Community as a Housing Advocate – Housing Program Assistant Director, and IT guru to the masses, for Santa Anita Family Service Senior Center in Monrovia as the Intake worker and the M.I.S. (read :IT again),  at Citrus College Disabled Programs and Services as a Testing Aide – and then a million side jobs in between (IHSS Caregiver, sales associate at Mervyn’s and The Avenue, temporary employee for Thomas Staffing  now known as Venturi Partners).
Sometimes I wish I worked for the county – as part of our contract – we have to do the same work the County does – only better and casting fewer tax dollars. So, basically: I work harder and better for less money – if I am doing my job correctly.
Working for a For Profit company has cool perks though. An actual 401K that matches my contributions and best of all – no wondering if the company will have the money to make payroll. I can not tell you how many times at LAMP I’d go to the doctor only to find out my company had not paid the health insurance bill, or I would go to the bank to find my paycheck had been UN-paid because the company did not have the funds to pay me. They used to ask in staff meetings which ones of us cold forgo a paycheck for a few weeks until they got the funding in line. Can you imagine?
So anyway, I am the Homeless Worker here – hence the link on the side to resources : I may be the only person who goes there to find them, but I use them every day. EVERY day. I rock. I have the second best participation turn around in the Los Angeles County for the year – I came in second to a region with more than one Homeless Worker, where as I am all by myself.  That means that where a year ago I had folks who were homeless and not participating in any activity that would lead them to self sufficiency – I now have hundreds of those same folks working full and part time jobs, getting certification in programs that will lead to employment in the medical filed and office, working in the courts, and doing community service for agencies like Habitat for Humanity. I do have the honor and privilege of working with the county Homeless Case Managers – namely Irma, Que, Carmelita and Edwin – and they also ROCK.  But my point is this – I am contracted and I do this job as well and often better than my county counterparts for less money. If I were bad at my job? It would only take a few minutes to fire me – no one would have to ford a stream of red tape to let me go.
The Los Angeles Times ran an article last week blasting a contracted agency – and I have to say “WHAT’S UP WITH THAT?” The article was more than a little biased and sounded like the work of someone’s PR person and I thought you should hear from an actual worker.
Write to me, ask me questions, post comments – I’m up for it all

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