BILL NUMBER: SB 1353	AMENDED
	BILL TEXT

	AMENDED IN SENATE  MARCH 22, 2010

INTRODUCED BY   Senator Wright

                        FEBRUARY 19, 2010

   An act to amend  Sections   Section 
48850  and 48853.5  of the Education Code, and to
amend Sections 16001.9, 16010, and 16501.1 of the Welfare and
Institutions Code, relating to education.


	LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


   SB 1353, as amended, Wright. Education: foster youth.
   (1) Existing law expresses the Legislature's intent that all
pupils in foster care who are homeless, as defined, have a meaningful
opportunity to meet the pupil academic achievement standards to
which all pupils are held. Educators and specified juvenile justice
entities must work together to maintain school placements and
educational programs and resources, as specified. In all instances,
educational and school placement decisions must be based on the best
interests of the child.
   This bill would indicate that the "best interests of the child"
includes, but is not limited to, minimal disruptions to school
attendance and educational stability, as specified.
   (2) Existing law requires each local educational agency to
designate a staff person as the educational liaison for specified
foster children to assist them in specified educational actions such
as transferring to a new school. If the liaison, consulting with the
foster child and the person holding the right to make educational
decisions for the foster child agree that the best interests of the
foster child would be served by the child transferring schools, the
child is required to immediately be enrolled in the new school.
   This bill would require the liaison to consult with the county
placing agency in making transfer decisions and require that minimal
educational disruption result from the transfer in order for a
transfer to take place.
   Because this bill would require local entities to perform
additional duties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local
program. 
   (3) Existing law provides that all children in foster care shall
have specified rights, including the right to attend school and
participate in extracurricular, cultural, and personal enrichment
activities, consistent with the child's age and developmental level.
 
   This bill would require foster children to enjoy this right with
minimal disruptions to school attendance and educational stability,
as specified.  
   (4) 
    (3)  Existing law requires that when a child is placed
in foster care, as specified, the case plan for each child must
include a summary of the health and education information or records
of the child. This summary is required to include specified material,
including assurances that the placement in foster care takes into
account the proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled at
the time of placement.
   This bill would, in addition, require the summary to contain
assurances that all efforts are made to eliminate or reduce the need
for transfer from the school of origin during the academic year,
semester, or term of instruction when a foster child's placement is
changed.
   Because this bill would require local entities to perform
additional duties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local
program. 
   (5) 
    (4)  Existing law provides that if a foster child is
placed out-of-home the decision regarding choice of placement must be
based upon specified factors, including proximity to the children's
school.
   This bill would instead provide that an educational placement
factor is  that it will not result in a transfer from the
school of origin during the academic year, semester, or term of
instruction   the proximity of the child's school as an
indicator of the best interests of the child with respect to
educational stability  .
   Existing law provides that a case plan for a foster child shall
include an assurance that the placement takes into account the
appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity
of home to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of
placement.
   This bill would also require   provide 
that  a case plan for a foster child include an assurance
that all efforts were made to eliminate or reduce the need for
transfer from the school of origin during the academic year,
semester, or term of instruction as a result of the placement
  this assurance is an indicator of the best interests
of the child with respect to educational stability  .
   Because this bill would require local entities to perform
additional duties, this bill would impose a state-mandated local
program.
   The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local
agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the
state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that
reimbursement.
   This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates
determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state,
reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these
statutory provisions.
   Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes.
State-mandated local program: yes.


THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  SECTION 1.  The Legislature finds and declares all of the
following:
   (a)  In 2008, 463,000 children were in foster care nationwide,
with California serving 67,323 children in foster care. Compton
Unified School District (CUSD) provides educational services to 1,265
pupils in foster care, 43 percent of which are in elementary school,
22 percent in middle school, and 35 percent in high school.
   (b)  Education is one of the most important factors in a child's
ability to support himself or herself as an independent adult after
leaving foster care. Adults with a high school diploma earn almost
$10,000 more on average than those without, according to recent
United States Census Bureau statistics. A high school diploma was
once the minimal requirement to obtain decent employment, but a
bachelor's degree has become crucial to entering the workforce in the
21st century. Numerous reports have found that advanced education
improves a person's quality of life as evidenced by lower
unemployment, better health, longer life, safer and more satisfying
employment, and higher social status.
   (c)  Children in foster care are disproportionately transient.
Over one-third experience five or more school changes during their
time in foster care, which significantly compromises academic
performance. Each school transfer results in an average loss of four
to six months of educational attainment. As a result, pupils in
foster care fail courses and repeat grades more frequently than their
peers, have lower grade point averages and standardized test scores,
and graduate high school at a rate 20 percent lower than pupils who
are not in foster care. They are 55 percent more likely to drop out
or 10 percent more likely to be incarcerated than the 54 percent to
graduate high school.
   (d)  It is in the pupil's best interests that they experience
minimal disruptions to school attendance and educational stability
caused by transfers outside of the school of origin. Where school
transfers are necessary, caregivers, county placing agencies, foster
care agencies, liaisons, and other adults making decisions regarding
residential placement and school transfers, should make a diligent
effort to avoid, delay, or postpone transfers that would likely
result in the pupil transferring schools during the academic school
year, semester, or term.
   (e)  Existing law grants children in foster care the right to
continue attending the school of origin at the initial detention or
placement, or any subsequent change in placement, for the remainder
of the academic year. However, the liaison may recommend that the
foster child's right to attend the school of origin be waived and the
pupil transferred to a school closer to the new residential
placement.
   (f)  Existing law provides that if the liaison and person making
educational decisions for the foster child agree that the best
interests of the foster child would best be served by his or her
transfer to a school other than the school of origin, the foster
child would immediately be enrolled in the new school. In determining
the child's best interest, existing law does not encourage
consideration of the long-term impacts of multiple school transfers
during the academic year.
   (g)  As a result, foster children in California experience a
disproportionately high transience rate. In Compton, 514 of the
district's 1,265 pupils in foster care are transient as a result of
school transfers. Foster children who are pupils in CUSD are removed
from the school of origin during the school year 47 percent of the
time and are placed in a new school during the school year 85 percent
of the time. Placements that result in school transfers prioritize
factors other than educational impact, and the pupils ultimately
suffer.
  SEC. 2.  Section 48850 of the Education Code is amended to read:
   48850.  (a) (1) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that
all pupils in foster care and those who are homeless as defined by
the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. Sec.
11301 et seq.) have a meaningful opportunity to meet the challenging
state pupil academic achievement standards to which all pupils are
held. In fulfilling their responsibilities to these pupils,
educators, county placing agencies, care providers, advocates, and
the juvenile courts shall work together to maintain stable school
placements and to ensure that each pupil is placed in the least
restrictive educational programs, and has access to the academic
resources, services, and extracurricular and enrichment activities
that are available to all pupils, including, but not necessarily
limited to, interscholastic sports administered by the California
Interscholastic Federation. In all instances, educational and school
placement decisions must be based on the best interests of the child.
For purposes of this section, the "best interests of the child"
shall include, but not be limited to, minimal disruptions to school
attendance and educational stability caused by transfers outside of
the school of origin during the academic year, semester, or term of
instruction.
   (2) A foster child who changes residences pursuant to a court
order or decision of a child welfare worker shall be immediately
deemed to meet all residency requirements for participation in
interscholastic sports or other extracurricular activities.
   (b) Every county office of education shall make available to
agencies that place children in licensed children's institutions
information on educational options for children residing in licensed
children's institutions within the jurisdiction of the county office
of education for use by the placing agencies in assisting parents and
foster children to choose educational placements.
   (c) For purposes of individuals with exceptional needs residing in
licensed children's institutions, making a copy of the annual
service plan, prepared pursuant to subdivision (b) of Section 56205,
available to those special education local plan areas that have
revised their local plans pursuant to Section 56836.03 shall meet the
requirements of subdivision (b). 
  SEC. 3.    Section 48853.5 of the Education Code
is amended to read:
   48853.5.  (a) This section applies to a foster child who has been
removed from his or her home pursuant to Section 309 of the Welfare
and Institutions Code, is the subject of a petition filed under
Section 300 or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, or has been
removed from his or her home and is the subject of a petition filed
under Section 300 or 602 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
   (b) Each local educational agency shall designate a staff person
as the educational liaison for foster children. In a school district
that operates a foster children services program pursuant to Chapter
11.3 (commencing with Section 42920) of Part 24 of Division 3, the
educational liaison shall be affiliated with the local foster
children services program. The liaison shall do all of the following:

   (1) Ensure and facilitate the proper educational placement,
enrollment in school, and checkout from school of foster children.
   (2) Assist foster children when transferring from one school to
another or from one school district to another in ensuring proper
transfer of credits, records, and grades.
   (c) This section does not grant authority to the educational
liaison that supersedes the authority granted under state and federal
law to a parent or guardian retaining educational rights, a
responsible adult appointed by the court to represent the child
pursuant to Section 361 or 726 of the Welfare and Institutions Code,
a surrogate parent, or a foster parent exercising the authority
granted under Section 56055. The role of the educational liaison is
advisory with respect to placement decisions and determination of
school of origin.
   (d) (1) At the initial detention or placement, or a subsequent
change in placement of a foster child, the local educational agency
serving the foster child shall allow the foster child to continue his
or her education in the school of origin for the duration of the
academic school year.
   (2) The liaison, in consultation with and the agreement of the
foster child and the person holding the right to make educational
decisions for the foster child may, in accordance with the foster
child's best interests, recommend that the foster child's right to
attend the school of origin be waived and the foster child be
enrolled in any public school that pupils living in the attendance
area in which the foster child resides are eligible to attend.
   (3) Prior to making a recommendation to move a foster child from
his or her school of origin, the liaison shall provide the foster
child and the person holding the right to make educational decisions
for the foster child with a written explanation stating the basis for
the recommendation and how this recommendation serves the foster
child's best interest.
   (4) (A) If the liaison in consultation with the foster child, the
person holding the right to make educational decisions for the foster
child, and the county placing agency agree that the best interests
of the foster child would best be served by his or her transfer to a
school other than the school of origin, and minimal educational
disruption would result from the transfer, the foster child shall
immediately be enrolled in the new school.
   (B) The new school shall immediately enroll the foster child even
if the foster child has outstanding fees, fines, textbooks, or other
items or moneys due to the school last attended or is unable to
produce records or clothing normally required for enrollment, such as
previous academic records, medical records, proof of residency,
other documentation, or school uniforms.
   (C) The liaison for the new school shall, within two business days
of the foster child's request for enrollment, contact the school
last attended by the foster child to obtain all academic and other
records. All required records shall be provided to the new school
regardless of any outstanding fees, fines, textbooks, or other items
or moneys owed to the school last attended. The school liaison for
the school last attended shall provide all records to the new school
within two business days of receiving the request.
   (5) If a dispute arises regarding the request of a foster child to
remain in the school of origin, the foster child has the right to
remain in the school of origin pending resolution of the dispute. The
dispute shall be resolved in accordance with the existing dispute
resolution process available to any pupil served by the local
educational agency.
   (6) The local educational agency and the county placing agency are
encouraged to collaborate to ensure maximum utilization of available
federal moneys, explore public-private partnerships, and access
other funding sources to promote the well-being of foster children
through educational stability.
   (e) For purposes of this section, "school of origin" means the
school that the foster child attended when permanently housed or the
school in which the foster child was last enrolled. If the school the
foster child attended when permanently housed is different from the
school in which the foster child was last enrolled, or if there is
some other school that the foster child attended with which the
foster child is connected and which the foster child attended within
the immediately preceding 15 months, the liaison, in consultation
with and the agreement of the foster child and the person holding the
right to make educational decisions for the foster child, shall
determine, in the best interests of the foster child, the school that
shall be deemed the school of origin.
   (f) This section does not supersede other law governing the
educational placements in juvenile court schools, as defined by
Section 48645.1, by the juvenile court under Section 602 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code. 
   SEC. 4.   SEC. 3.   Section 16001.9 of
the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:
   16001.9.  (a) It is the policy of the state that all children in
foster care shall have the following rights:
   (1) To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where he or
she is treated with respect.
   (2) To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse,
or corporal punishment.
   (3) To receive adequate and healthy food, adequate clothing, and,
for youth in group homes, an allowance.
   (4) To receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health
services.
   (5) To be free of the administration of medication or chemical
substances, unless authorized by a physician.
   (6) To contact family members, unless prohibited by court order,
and social workers, attorneys, foster youth advocates and supporters,
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), and probation officers.
   (7) To visit and contact brothers and sisters, unless prohibited
by court order.
   (8) To contact the Community Care Licensing Division of the State
Department of Social Services or the State Foster Care Ombudsperson
regarding violations of rights, to speak to representatives of these
offices confidentially, and to be free from threats or punishment for
making complaints.
   (9) To make and receive confidential telephone calls and send and
receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.
   (10) To attend religious services and activities of his or her
choice.
   (11) To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal
income, consistent with the child's age and developmental level,
unless prohibited by the case plan.
   (12) To not be locked in a room, building, or facility premises,
unless placed in a community treatment facility.
   (13) To attend school and participate in extracurricular,
cultural, and personal enrichment activities, consistent with the
child's age and developmental level with minimal disruptions to
school attendance and educational stability caused by transfers from
the school of origin during the academic year, semester, or term of
instruction.
   (14) To work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level,
consistent with state law.
   (15) To have social contacts with people outside of the foster
care system, such as teachers, church members, mentors, and friends.
   (16) To attend Independent Living Program classes and activities
if he or she meets age requirements.
   (17) To attend court hearings and speak to the judge.
   (18) To have storage space for private use.
   (19) To be involved in the development of his or her own case plan
and plan for permanent placement.
   (20) To review his or her own case plan and plan for permanent
placement, if he or she is 12 years of age or older and in a
permanent placement, and to receive information about his or her
out-of-home placement and case plan, including being told of changes
to the plan.
   (21) To be free from unreasonable searches of personal belongings.

   (22) To confidentiality of all juvenile court records consistent
with existing law.
   (23) To have fair and equal access to all available services,
placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to
discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived
race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color,
religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or
physical disability, or HIV status.
   (24) At 16 years of age or older, to have access to existing
information regarding the educational options available, including,
but not limited to, the coursework necessary for vocational and
postsecondary educational programs, and information regarding
financial aid for postsecondary education.
   (b) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to require a
foster care provider to take any action that would impair the health
and safety of children in out-of-home placement.
   (c) The State Department of Social Services and each county
welfare department are encouraged to work with the Student Aid
Commission, the University of California, the California State
University, and the California Community Colleges to receive
information pursuant to paragraph (23) of subdivision (a).
   SEC. 5.   SEC. 4.   Section 16010 of the
Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:
   16010.  (a) When a child is placed in foster care, the case plan
for each child recommended pursuant to Section 358.1 shall include a
summary of the health and education information or records, including
mental health information or records, of the child. The summary may
be maintained in the form of a health and education passport, or a
comparable format designed by the child protective agency. The health
and education summary shall include, but not be limited to, the
names and addresses of the child's health, dental, and education
providers, the child's grade level performance, the child's school
record, assurances that the child's placement in foster care takes
into account proximity to the school in which the child is enrolled
at the time of placement  , assurances that all efforts are
made to eliminate or reduce the need for transfer from the school of
origin during the academic year, semester, or term of instruction
when a foster child's placement is changed, a record  
as an indicator of the best interests of the child with respect to
educational stability, a record  of the child's immunizations
and allergies, the child's known medical problems, the child's
current medications, past health problems and hospitalizations, a
record of the child's relevant mental health history, the child's
known mental health condition and medications, and any other relevant
mental health, dental, health, and education information concerning
the child determined to be appropriate by the Director of Social
Services. If any other law imposes more stringent information
requirements, then that section shall prevail.
   (b) Additionally, a court report or assessment required pursuant
to subdivision (g) of Section 361.5, Section 366.1, subdivision (d)
of Section 366.21, or subdivision (b) of Section 366.22 shall include
a copy of the current health and education summary described in
subdivision (a).
   (c) As soon as possible, but not later than 30 days after initial
placement of a child into foster care, the child protective agency
shall provide the caretaker with the child's current health and
education summary as described in subdivision (a). For each
subsequent placement, the child protective agency shall provide the
caretaker with a current summary as described in subdivision (a)
within 48 hours of the placement.
   (d) (1) Notwithstanding Section 827 or any other law, the child
protective agency may disclose any information described in this
section to a prospective caretaker or caretakers prior to placement
of a child if all of the following requirements are met:
   (A) The child protective agency intends to place the child with
the prospective caretaker or caretakers.
   (B) The prospective caretaker or caretakers are willing to become
the adoptive parent or parents of the child.
   (C) The prospective caretaker or caretakers have an approved
adoption assessment or home study, a foster family home license,
certification by a licensed foster family agency, or approval
pursuant to the requirements in Sections 361.3 and 361.4.
   (2) In addition to the information required to be provided under
this section, the child protective agency may disclose to the
prospective caretaker specified in paragraph (1), placement history
or underlying source documents that are provided to adoptive parents
pursuant to subdivisions (a) and (b) of Section 8706 of the Family
Code.
   (e) The child's caretaker shall be responsible for obtaining and
maintaining accurate and thorough information from physicians and
educators for the child's summary as described in subdivision (a)
during the time that the child is in the care of the caretaker. On
each required visit, the child protective agency or its designee
family foster agency shall inquire of the caretaker whether there is
any new information that should be added to the child's summary as
described in subdivision (a). The child protective agency shall
update the summary with the information as appropriate, but not later
than the next court date or within 48 hours of a change in
placement. The child protective agency or its designee family foster
agency shall take all necessary steps to assist the caretaker in
obtaining relevant health and education information for the child's
health and education summary as described in subdivision (a).
   (f) At the initial hearing, the court shall direct each parent to
provide to the child protective agency complete medical, dental,
mental health, and educational information, and medical background,
of the child and of the child's mother and the child's biological
father if known. The Judicial Council shall create a form for the
purpose of obtaining health and education information from the child'
s parents or guardians at the initial hearing. The court shall
determine at the hearing held pursuant to Section 358 whether the
medical, dental, mental health, and educational information has been
provided to the child protective agency.
   SEC. 6.   SEC. 5.   Section 16501.1 of
the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:
   16501.1.  (a) (1) The Legislature finds and declares that the
foundation and central unifying tool in child welfare services is the
case plan.
   (2) The Legislature further finds and declares that a case plan
ensures that the child receives protection and safe and proper care
and case management, and that services are provided to the child and
parents or other caretakers, as appropriate, in order to improve
conditions in the parent's home, to facilitate the safe return of the
child to a safe home or the permanent placement of the child, and to
address the needs of the child while in foster care.
   (b) (1) A case plan shall be based upon the principles of this
section and shall document that a preplacement assessment of the
service needs of the child and family, and preplacement preventive
services, have been provided, and that reasonable efforts to prevent
out-of-home placement have been made.
   (2) In determining the reasonable services to be offered or
provided, the child's health and safety shall be the paramount
concerns.
   (3) (A) In determining the reasonable services to be offered or
provided, the case plan shall include information, to the extent
possible, about a parent's incarceration in a county jail or the
state prison during the time that a minor child of that parent is
involved in dependency care. Once a consistent data entry field or
fields have been designated in the statewide child welfare database,
social workers shall make reasonable efforts to collect and update
necessary data regarding a child's incarcerated parent or parents.
   (B) In order to further the goals of this paragraph, the
Legislature encourages the State Department of Social Services to
consult with the county welfare directors regarding the best way to
incorporate the information specified in subparagraph (A) as a
required field in the statewide database. The Legislature also
encourages the Department of Justice, the Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation, county welfare departments, and county sheriffs
to develop protocols for facilitating the exchange of information
regarding the location and sentencing of the incarcerated parent or
parents of a minor child who is in dependency care.
   (C) Nothing in this paragraph shall be interpreted to require the
department to create a new dedicated field in the statewide database
for incorporating the information specified in subparagraph (A).
   (4) Reasonable services shall be offered or provided to make it
possible for a child to return to a safe home environment, unless,
pursuant to subdivisions (b) and (e) of Section 361.5, the court
determines that reunification services shall not be provided.
   (5) If reasonable services are not ordered, or are terminated,
reasonable efforts shall be made to place the child in a timely
manner in accordance with the permanent plan and to complete all
steps necessary to finalize the permanent placement of the child.
   (c) (1) If out-of-home placement is used to attain case plan
goals, the decision regarding choice of placement shall be based upon
selection of a safe setting that is the least restrictive or most
family like and the most appropriate setting that is available and in
close proximity to the parent's home,  will not result in a
transfer from the school of origin during the academic year,
semester, or term of instruction, consistent   proximity
to the child's school as an indicator of the best interests of the
child with respect to educational stability, consistent  with
the selection of the environment best suited to meet the child's
special needs and best interests, or both. The selection shall
consider, in order of priority, placement with relatives, tribal
members, and foster family, group care, and residential treatment
pursuant to Section 7950 of the Family Code.
   (2) In addition to the requirements of paragraph (1), and taking
into account other statutory considerations regarding placement, the
selection of the most appropriate home that will meet the child's
special needs and best interests shall also promote educational
stability by taking into consideration proximity to the child's
school attendance area.
   (d) A written case plan shall be completed within a maximum of 60
days of the initial removal of the child or of the in-person response
required under subdivision (f) of Section 16501 if the child has not
been removed from his or her home, or by the date of the
dispositional hearing
pursuant to Section 358, whichever occurs first. The case plan shall
be updated as the service needs of the child and family dictate. At a
minimum, the case plan shall be updated in conjunction with each
status review hearing conducted pursuant to Section 366.21, and the
hearing conducted pursuant to Section 366.26, but no less frequently
than once every six months. Each updated case plan shall include a
description of the services that have been provided to the child
under the plan and an evaluation of the appropriateness and
effectiveness of those services.
   (1) It is the intent of the Legislature that extending the maximum
time available for preparing a written case plan from 30 to 60 days
will afford caseworkers time to actively engage families, and to
solicit and integrate into the case plan the input of the child and
the child's family, as well as the input of relatives and other
interested parties.
   (2) The extension of the maximum time available for preparing a
written case plan from the 30 to 60 days shall be effective 90 days
after the date that the department gives counties written notice that
necessary changes have been made to the Child Welfare Services Case
Management System to account for the 60-day timeframe for preparing a
written case plan.
   (e) The child welfare services case plan shall be comprehensive
enough to meet the juvenile court dependency proceedings requirements
pursuant to Article 6 (commencing with Section 300) of Chapter 2 of
Part 1 of Division 2.
   (f) The case plan shall be developed as follows:
   (1) The case plan shall be based upon an assessment of the
circumstances that required child welfare services intervention. The
child shall be involved in developing the case plan as age and
developmentally appropriate.
   (2) The case plan shall identify specific goals and the
appropriateness of the planned services in meeting those goals.
   (3) The case plan shall identify the original allegations of abuse
or neglect, as defined in Article 2.5 (commencing with Section
11164) of Chapter 2 of Title 1 of Part 4 of the Penal Code, or the
conditions cited as the basis for declaring the child a dependent of
the court pursuant to Section 300, or all of these, and the other
precipitating incidents that led to child welfare services
intervention.
   (4) The case plan shall include a description of the schedule of
the social worker contacts with the child and the family or other
caretakers. The frequency of these contacts shall be in accordance
with regulations adopted by the State Department of Social Services.
If the child has been placed in foster care out of state, the county
social worker or a social worker on the staff of the social services
agency in the state in which the child has been placed shall visit
the child in a foster family home or the home of a relative,
consistent with federal law and in accordance with the department's
approved state plan. For children in out-of-state group home
facilities, visits shall be conducted at least monthly, pursuant to
Section 16516.5. At least once every six months, at the time of a
regularly scheduled social worker contact with the foster child, the
child's social worker shall inform the child of his or her rights as
a foster child, as specified in Section 16001.9. The social worker
shall provide the information to the child in a manner appropriate to
the age or developmental level of the child.
   (5) (A) When out-of-home services are used, the frequency of
contact between the natural parents or legal guardians and the child
shall be specified in the case plan. The frequency of those contacts
shall reflect overall case goals, and consider other principles
outlined in this section.
   (B) Information regarding any court-ordered visitation between the
child and the natural parents or legal guardians, and the terms and
conditions needed to facilitate the visits while protecting the
safety of the child, shall be provided to the child's out-of-home
caregiver as soon as possible after the court order is made.
   (6) When out-of-home placement is made, the case plan shall
include provisions for the development and maintenance of sibling
relationships as specified in subdivisions (b), (c), and (d) of
Section 16002. If appropriate, when siblings who are dependents of
the juvenile court are not placed together, the social worker for
each child, if different, shall communicate with each of the other
social workers and ensure that the child's siblings are informed of
significant life events that occur within their extended family.
Unless it has been determined that it is inappropriate in a
particular case to keep siblings informed of significant life events
that occur within the extended family, the social worker shall
determine the appropriate means and setting for disclosure of this
information to the child commensurate with the child's age and
emotional well-being. These significant life events shall include,
but shall not be limited to, the following:
   (A) The death of an immediate relative.
   (B) The birth of a sibling.
   (C) Significant changes regarding a dependent child, unless the
child objects to the sharing of the information with his or her
siblings, including changes in placement, major medical or mental
health diagnoses, treatments, or hospitalizations, arrests, and
changes in the permanent plan.
   (7) If out-of-home placement is made in a foster family home,
group home, or other child care institution that is either a
substantial distance from the home of the child's parent or out of
state, the case plan shall specify the reasons why that placement is
in the best interest of the child. When an out-of-state group home
placement is recommended or made, the case plan shall, in addition,
specify compliance with Section 7911.1 of the Family Code.
   (8) Effective January 1, 2010, a case plan shall ensure the
educational stability of the child while in foster care and shall
include both of the following:
   (A) An assurance that the placement takes into account the
appropriateness of the current educational setting and the proximity
to the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of placement
 , and that all efforts were made to eliminate or reduce the
need for transfer from the school of origin during the academic
year, semester, or term of instruction as a result of the placement.
  as an indicator of the best interests of the child
with respect to educational stability. 
   (B) An assurance that the placement agency has coordinated with
appropriate local educational agencies to ensure that the child
remains in the school in which the child is enrolled at the time of
placement, or, if remaining in that school is not in the best
interests of the child, assurances by the placement agency and the
local educational agency to provide immediate and appropriate
enrollment in a new school and to provide all of the child's
educational records to the new school.
   (9) (A) If out-of-home services are used, or if parental rights
have been terminated and the case plan is placement for adoption, the
case plan shall include a recommendation regarding the
appropriateness of unsupervised visitation between the child and any
of the child's siblings. This recommendation shall include a
statement regarding the child's and the siblings' willingness to
participate in unsupervised visitation. If the case plan includes a
recommendation for unsupervised sibling visitation, the plan shall
also note that information necessary to accomplish this visitation
has been provided to the child or to the child's siblings.
   (B) Information regarding the schedule and frequency of the visits
between the child and siblings, as well as any court-ordered terms
and conditions needed to facilitate the visits while protecting the
safety of the child, shall be provided to the child's out-of-home
caregiver as soon as possible after the court order is made.
   (10) If out-of-home services are used and the goal is
reunification, the case plan shall describe the services to be
provided to assist in reunification and the services to be provided
concurrently to achieve legal permanency if efforts to reunify fail.
The plan shall also consider in-state and out-of-state placements,
the importance of developing and maintaining sibling relationships
pursuant to Section 16002, and the desire and willingness of the
caregiver to provide legal permanency for the child if reunification
is unsuccessful.
   (11) If out-of-home services are used, the child has been in care
for at least 12 months, and the goal is not adoptive placement, the
case plan shall include documentation of the compelling reason or
reasons why termination of parental rights is not in the child's best
interest. A determination completed or updated within the past 12
months by the department when it is acting as an adoption agency or
by a licensed adoption agency that it is unlikely that the child will
be adopted, or that one of the conditions described in paragraph (1)
of subdivision (c) of Section 366.26 applies, shall be deemed a
compelling reason.
   (12) (A) Parents and legal guardians shall have an opportunity to
review the case plan, and to sign it whenever possible, and then
shall receive a copy of the plan. In a voluntary service or placement
agreement, the parents or legal guardians shall be required to
review and sign the case plan. Whenever possible, parents and legal
guardians shall participate in the development of the case plan.
   (B) Parents and legal guardians shall be advised that, pursuant to
Section 1228.1 of the Evidence Code, neither their signature on the
child welfare services case plan nor their acceptance of any services
prescribed in the child welfare services case plan shall constitute
an admission of guilt or be used as evidence against the parent or
legal guardian in a court of law. However, they shall also be advised
that the parent's or guardian's failure to cooperate, except for
good cause, in the provision of services specified in the child
welfare services case plan may be used in any hearing held pursuant
to Section 366.21 or 366.22 as evidence.
   (13) A child shall be given a meaningful opportunity to
participate in the development of the case plan and state his or her
preference for foster care placement. A child who is 12 years of age
or older and in a permanent placement shall also be given the
opportunity to review the case plan, sign the case plan, and receive
a copy of the case plan.
   (14) The case plan shall be included in the court report and shall
be considered by the court at the initial hearing and each review
hearing. Modifications to the case plan made during the period
between review hearings need not be approved by the court if the
casework supervisor for that case determines that the modifications
further the goals of the plan. If out-of-home services are used with
the goal of family reunification, the case plan shall consider and
describe the application of subdivision (b) of Section 11203.
   (15) If the case plan has as its goal for the child a permanent
plan of adoption or placement in another permanent home, it shall
include a statement of the child's wishes regarding their permanent
placement plan and an assessment of those stated wishes. The agency
shall also include documentation of the steps the agency is taking to
find an adoptive family or other permanent living arrangements for
the child; to place the child with an adoptive family, an appropriate
and willing relative, a legal guardian, or in another planned
permanent living arrangement; and to finalize the adoption or legal
guardianship. At a minimum, the documentation shall include
child-specific recruitment efforts, such as the use of state,
regional, and national adoption exchanges, including electronic
exchange systems, when the child has been freed for adoption.
   (16) (A) When appropriate, for a child who is 16 years of age or
older, the case plan shall include a written description of the
programs and services that will help the child, consistent with the
child's best interests, prepare for the transition from foster care
to independent living. The case plan shall be developed with the
child and individuals identified as important to the child, and shall
include steps the agency is taking to ensure that the child has a
connection to a caring adult.
   (B) During the 90-day period prior to the participant attaining 18
years of age or older as the state may elect under Section 475(8)(B)
(iii) (42 U.S.C. Sec. 675(8)(B)(iii)) of the federal Social Security
Act, whether during that period foster care maintenance payments are
being made on the child's behalf or the child is receiving benefits
or services under Section 477 (42 U.S.C. Sec. 677) of the federal
Social Security Act, a caseworker or other appropriate agency staff
or probation officer and other representatives of the participant, as
appropriate, must address, in the written transitional independent
living plan, that is personalized at the direction of the child,
information as detailed as the participant elects that shall include,
but not be limited to, options regarding housing, health insurance,
education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support
services, and workforce supports and employment services.
   (g) If the court finds, after considering the case plan, that
unsupervised sibling visitation is appropriate and has been consented
to, the court shall order that the child or the child's siblings,
the child's current caregiver, and the child's prospective adoptive
parents, if applicable, be provided with information necessary to
accomplish this visitation. This section does not require or prohibit
the social worker's facilitation, transportation, or supervision of
visits between the child and his or her siblings.
   (h) The case plan documentation on sibling placements required
under this section shall not require modification of existing case
plan forms until the Child Welfare Services Case Management System is
implemented on a statewide basis.
   (i) When a child who is 10 years of age or older and who has been
in out-of-home placement for six months or longer, the case plan
shall include an identification of individuals, other than the child'
s siblings, who are important to the child and actions necessary to
maintain the child's relationship with those individuals, provided
that those relationships are in the best interest of the child. The
social worker shall ask every child who is 10 years of age or older
and who has been in out-of-home placement for six months or longer to
identify individuals other than the child's siblings who are
important to the child, and may ask any other child to provide that
information, as appropriate. The social worker shall make efforts to
identify other individuals who are important to the child, consistent
with the child's best interests.
   (j) The child's caregiver shall be provided a copy of a plan
outlining the child's needs and services.
   (k) On or before June 30, 2008, the department, in consultation
with the County Welfare Directors Association and other advocates,
shall develop a comprehensive plan to ensure that 90 percent of
foster children are visited by their caseworkers on a monthly basis
by October 1, 2011, and that the majority of the visits occur in the
residence of the child. The plan shall include any data reporting
requirements necessary to comply with the provisions of the federal
Child and Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (Public Law
109-288).
   (l) The implementation and operation of the amendments to
subdivision (i) enacted at the 2005-06 Regular Session shall be
subject to appropriation through the budget process and by phase, as
provided in Section 366.35.
   SEC. 7.   SEC. 6.   If the Commission on
State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by
the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for
those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section
17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.