What happens when a family can’t afford a funeral service or cremation for a loved one who has passed away? For many years, the only option was indigent cremation. In October, one local family learned that the County now offers an alternative that allows for more closure, via an agreement with the American River College Funeral Service Education Program.
Sections 7104 and 7104.1 of the California Health and Safety Code and Section 6.48.040 of the Sacramento County Code, specify that “the County shall be responsible for the disposition of decedent remains when the decedent and/or their legal next of kin are deemed indigent and financially unable to process the disposition of the remains.” What this means is that if a family finds themselves financially unable to cover costs related to the final disposition of their loved one, Sacramento County will pay for the cremation services.
“Each year, a small number of families that go through the Indigent Cremation Program express their sorrow over having to use the Indigent program and wish to have an actual funeral service for their loved one,” said County Coroner, Kimberly Gin. “This arrangement with American River College gives them that opportunity and helps give much needed closure.”
Students in the two-year Funeral Service Education Program learn about the funeral service industry. In the past, these students did not receive hands-on experience while in the classroom being monitored by instructors; the hands-on learning came later in the program during their internships.
The benefits from the program are twofold: Students will receive more hands-on experience that they need when entering the workforce, and, perhaps more importantly, local families will have the opportunity to properly say goodbye to their loved ones – an opportunity they would not have had otherwise.
The agreement with American River College will allow the Coroner’s Office to refer and transport up to 30 eligible next of kin to the Funeral Services Education Program per year through May 31, 2020. So far, one family has taken part in this program.