BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                  SENATE HUMAN
                               SERVICES COMMITTEE
                            Senator Carol Liu, Chair

          BILL NO:       SB 119                                      
          AUTHOR:        Lowenthal                                   
          VERSION:       March 21, 2011
          HEARING DATE:  April 12, 2011                              
          FISCAL:        Appropriations                              

                       Emergency youth shelter facilities


          Creates a licensing category for emergency youth shelter 
          facilities, provides a definition and a description of 
          them, and directs the Department of Social Services (DSS) 
          to adopt regulations for them by January 1, 2013.


           Current law
           1.  Defines various kinds of community care facilities and 
          creates a process to license each of them, including group 
          homes for dependents and wards of the court.

          2.  Provides, through the federal Runaway and Homeless 
          Youth Act, funding for respite centers for homeless and 
          runaway youth.

          3.  Establishes, through the Homeless Youth Act of 1985 (AB 
          1596, Agnos, Chapter 1445, Statues of 1985), services for 
          runaway and homeless youth that include access to an 
          overnight shelter, counseling, screening for basic health 


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL 119 (Lowenthal)         Page 


          needs, linkages to services offered by other organizations, 
          planning for long-term stabilization, and follow up 
          services.  (Welfare and Institutions Code Sections 13700 et 

           This bill
           1.  Creates a category of community care licensing for an 
          "emergency youth shelter facility" and defines it as a 
          group care facility that provides voluntary temporary 
          emergency shelter and case management to minors and to 
          emancipated youth under 18 years of age.

          2.  Specifies that an emergency youth shelter facility 
          must, in order to be licensed, offer voluntary short-term 
          shelter care and supervision, on a 24-hour basis, to 
          unaccompanied minors under 18 years of age, including 
          emancipated youth or adults who are in high school at 18 
          years of age and expect to graduate before their 19th 
          birthday, and who are homeless or at risk of being 
          homeless; that it be owned and operated on a not-for-profit 
          organization; and, that the facility have a maximum 
          capacity of 25 residents.
          3.  Requires DSS to adopt regulations for licensed 
          emergency youth shelter facilities by January 1, 2013.

          4.  Requires that these regulations include physical 
          environment standards, standards for staffing and staff 
          training, health and safety requirements, and other 
          standards that may meet but not exceed standards set for 
          child care licensees.

          5.  Requires DSS, while developing regulations, to consult 
          with interested parties including representatives of 
          provider organizations that serve homeless or runaway youth 
          and youth who have accessed emergency youth shelter 

          6.  Stipulates that regulations adopted for emergency youth 
          shelter facilities shall constitute the only licensing 
          standards applicable to them.

          7.  Holds harmless from current licensing standards any 
          emergency youth shelter operating on the effective date of 
          the act; regulations for emergency youth shelters will 


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL 119 (Lowenthal)         Page 


          apply to these facilities once those regulations are 

          8.  Allows a facility operating under a group home license 
          to apply to transfer its existing license to an emergency 
          youth shelter license after those regulations are 

                                  FISCAL IMPACT  


                            BACKGROUND AND DISCUSSION  

           Author's statement
           According to the author, emergency youth shelters are 
          designed to provide voluntary and temporary shelter to 
          youth who are homeless or runaways at risk of homelessness. 
           There are 33 such shelters operating in California, most 
          with federal funding provided through the Runaway and 
          Homeless Youth Act.  These shelters - with their voluntary 
          and temporary nature - contrast with foster group homes, 
          which are for dependents of the court or for children and 
          youth judged by a county social worker to be at risk of 
          abuse or neglect; foster group homes can also be more 
          permanent placements for children and youth.

          The difference between these two kinds of facilities - 
          emergency shelters and foster group homes - and the law's 
          silence as to the licensing status of emergency shelters 
          lead to inconsistency and misunderstanding when shelters 
          apply for funds or when they seek a license.  The bill is 
          designed to end these inconsistencies and to give those 
          teens and young adults residing in emergency shelters the 
          health and safety protections of licensure.

           Federal-state clarity
           Federal funds through the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act 
          are, potentially, available to an emergency youth shelter.  
          Federal law does not require that applicants for funds have 
          a license, but it does require that applicants be in accord 
          with state law.  This bill would make clear the licensing 
          and regulatory requirements of emergency youth shelters.


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL 119 (Lowenthal)         Page 


           Number of such youth emergency shelters seeking licensure
           The sponsors of the bill estimate that many of the state's 
          33 shelters would seek a license under the bill's 
          provisions and that a handful who are currently licensed as 
          group homes would seek to transfer to an emergency shelter 

           Analogy to crisis nurseries
           In 2004, the Legislature created a separate community care 
          licensing category for crisis nurseries (Chapter 664, 
          Statues of 2004).  Prior to 2005, crisis nurseries were 
          licensed as group homes meeting those requirements for 
          staff-child ratios, education and training of staff, and 
          availability of prescribed supportive services, or they 
          were seeking waivers from group-home requirements that 
          shelter administrators believed where not necessary during 
          the limited time during which an infant was in one of these 

          Operators of crisis nurseries argued that the cost of 
          complying with group home regulations were excessive and 
          threatened their viability, and they found the waiver 
          process cumbersome and inconsistent. 

          In the years since enactment of the separate licensing 
          category for crisis nurseries, the statute has limited them 
          to voluntary placements only, and they function as a 
          respite for parents or other caregivers rather than as an 
          emergency placement available to infants receiving child 
          welfare services from a county.

           Arguments in support
           The California Coalition for Youth believes that enacting 
          this bill will lead to new services for homeless and 
          runaway youth, once ambiguities about licensing are cleared 
          up.  Covenant Community Services, in Kern County, believes 
          that the bill will ensure that shelter services will meet 
          basic health and safety standards.

           Request for amendments
           The California Alliance of Child and Family Services raises 
          two concerns with the bill's current language, offering 
          support if the bill is amended.  The Alliance recommends 
          language clarifying that runaway foster youth may be served 


          STAFF ANALYSIS OF SENATE BILL 119 (Lowenthal)         Page 


          by an emergency shelter care facility.  Second, the 
          Alliance recommends language making it more clear that 
          facilities licensed as foster group homes can continue to 
          provide emergency shelter services after DSS establishes a 
          new licensing category for facilities that offer only 
          emergency shelter. 



          Support:       California Coalition for Youth (sponsor)
                         John Burton Foundation for Children Without 
          Homes (sponsor)
                         California Alliance for Child and Family 
          Services (if amended)
                         Covenant Community Services

          Oppose:   None received

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