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Kern County Public Health Workers Push Back Against Potential Furloughs

Kern County Public Health Department Facebook Page

The Kern County Board of Supervisors is considering furloughing employees classified under non-safety in order to save $1.67 million. Social workers and other public health professionals in the county are pushing back. 

Alicia Aleman has been a domestic violence social worker with the county for over 13 years. She said the pandemic has caused huge mental health stresses for people dealing with job loss, school closures and COVID relief. 


“Consistency in our field of work is critical for fostering genuine relationships with those we serve,” she said. “And so the idea of furloughing workers even one day could have very serious effects.”


In a press conference Friday, she and other social workers and public health professionals asked the county to consider the effect these furloughs will have on its most vulnerable residents. 


Ryan Couch was also at the press conference. He has worked as a social services supervisor with the county for 19 years. 


“Our departments were struggling before the pandemic and discussion about furloughs,” Couch said. “And now rather than using a small portion of what is a healthy amount of reserves they are proposing to furlough us.” 

He said the county should use some of the $143 million in reserves shown in the Recommended Budget.

Madi Bolanos covered immigration and underserved communities for KVPR from 2020-2022. Before joining the station, she interned for POLITCO in Washington D.C. where she reported on US trade and agriculture as well as indigenous women’s issues during the Canadian election. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in anthropology from San Francisco State University. Madi spent a semester studying at the Danish Media and Journalism School where she covered EU policies in Brussels and alleged police brutality at the Croatian-Serbian border.
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