BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 1905
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           Date of Hearing:   March 23, 2010

                                Jim Beall, Jr., Chair
                     AB 1905 (Cook) - As Amended:  March 17, 2010
           SUBJECT:  Foster care: funding: placement approvals

           SUMMARY  :  Ensures continued approval and payments for foster  
          youth relative caregiver homes pending the annual reassessment  
          visit.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

             1)   Requires approval remain in full force and effect when  
               an annual reassessment visit is pending for the home of a  
               relative or nonrelative extended family member (NREFM).
             2)   Requires that payments to the relative or NREFM not be  
               terminated because of delays in the annual reapproval  
               process such as a late home visit or corrective action  

             3)   Specifies that no appropriation shall be made pursuant  
               to Section 15200 of the Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC)  
               for the purposes of implementing this act.

             1)   Authorizes federal funding for state foster care  
               programs pursuant to Title IV-E of the Social Security Act  
               under an approved state plan.

             2)   Requires states to apply the same licensing standards to  
               all foster family homes receiving Title IV-E funding,  
               including relative and non-relative caregiver homes.  P.L.  
               No. 105-89, 45 CFR  1355.20(a).

             3)   Provides a process for the juvenile court to remove a  
               child from their parent or guardian and declare dependency  
               on the basis of abuse or neglect.  WIC 300.

             4)   Requires licensure of non-relative foster family homes  
               prior to the placement of a dependent child.  WIC 11402.


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             5)   Exempts relative caregiver and NREFM homes from  
               licensure.  Health and Safety Code (HSC) 1505 (k) and (l).

             6)   Clarifies that California's approval process is the same  
               for relative and non-relative caregivers and sets forth  
               standards for the licensure and approval of relative and  
               non-relative caregiver homes.  WIC 309, WIC 362.7, CCR  
               Title 22, Division 6, chapter 9.5. 

             7)   Defines a "non-relative extended family member" as any  
               adult caregiver who has an established familial or  
               mentoring relationship with the child.  WIC 362.7.

             8)   Provides for Aid to Families with Dependent  
               Children-Foster Care (AFDC-FC) payment to eligible children  
               placed in the approved home of a relative or NREFM.  HSC  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           COMMENTS  :  Federal law does not require licensure of relative  
          and NREFM caregiver homes receiving federal Title IV-E payments.  
           It does, however, require states to apply the same licensing  
          standards to both relative and non-relative homes.  While  
          California explicitly exempts relative caregiver homes from  
          licensure, in response to the federal Adoptions and Safe  
          Families Act of 1997, the state conformed to federal law when it  
          implemented an approval process for relative homes, administered  
          by counties. 

          In 2002, the Youth Law Center filed a lawsuit,  Higgins v. Saenz   
          (CPF-02-501937 (Cal. Supr. Crt., Los Angeles County, Oct. 24,  
          2002)) alleging the Department of Social Services (DSS) had not  
          provided adequate oversight of the approval process for relative  
          homes, thereby threatening the safety of foster children in  
          relative placements.  As part of the  Higgins v. Saenz   
          settlement, DSS implemented the Relative Approval Monitoring  
          Process and issued guidance to counties in the form of an All  
          County Letter (ACL 04-02).  With this instruction, DSS required  
          counties to perform an initial assessment of relative caregiver  
          homes, followed by an annual reassessment for  all  relative  
          caregivers.  The guidance provided in ACL 04-02 effectively  
          applied a higher standard to the approval process for relative  
          caregiver homes because only a portion of licensed non-relative  
          foster family homes are reassessed on an annual basis.  DSS has  


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          also required, through this higher standard, that AFDC-FC  
          payments to relative caregivers be terminated if the annual  
          reassessment is not completed within one year of the initial  

          As a result of the higher standards for relative homes,  
          according to the author, the state and counties are needlessly  
          losing federal funding for relative placements.  The sponsor of  
          this bill, the County of San Bernardino, states:

               Due to high workloads at the local level and the fact that  
               the state underfunds the county workload for annual  
               reassessments, counties struggle to complete these reviews  
               on time.  We currently have approximately 1,500 children  
               placed with relatives.  Due to the reduction in our Child  
               Welfare Service allocation, processing the annual  
               reassessment in a timely fashion has become an extremely  
               daunting task?As a result of late reassessment, under state  
               regulations, the federal funding for these placements stop,  
               resulting often in an "overpayment" to that home for the  
               month the home was not deemed in compliance.  For any  
               overpayment to a relative caregiver, the state must re-pay  
               the federal government its share and cannot recoup these  
               costs from either foster parents or counties based on  
               current law.

          This bill would allow approved relative caregivers to remain  
          eligible for federal AFDC-FC payments pending an annual  
          reassessment as the state standard for relative home approval  
          currently exceeds federal and state licensing requirements.

           Prior Legislation:
          AB 2773 (Aroner) Chapter 1056, Statutes of 1998, conformed state  
          law to the federal Adoptions and Safe Families (AFSA) (PL  

          AB 1695 (Assembly Committee on Human Services) Chapter 653,  
          Statutes of 2001, conformed state law with AFSA regulations  
          requiring the same standards for licensing and approving foster  
          family homes, and established the NRFM designation. 

          AB 1544 (Assembly Committee on Human Services) Chapter 793,  
          Statutes of 1997, established the priority of placing foster  
          children with relative caregivers and set forth requirements for  


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          relative placements.

          County of San Bernardino (Sponsor)
          California State Association of Counties (CSAC)
          Chief Probation Officers of California
          County Welfare Directors Association of California

          None on file
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Michelle Doty Cabrera / HUM. S. / (916)