BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 352
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          Date of Hearing:   April 24, 2014

                   ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON GOVERNMENTAL ORGANIZATION
                                 Isadore Hall, Chair
                     AB 352 (Hall) - As Amended:  April 23, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :   Foster care: smoke-free environment

           SUMMARY  :   Prohibits smoking in licensed residential foster care  
          homes or in the physical presence of the foster youth.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Exempts the homes of relatives and nonrelative extended family  
            relative caregivers.

          2)Codifies existing regulations to specify that group homes and  
            small family homes shall maintain a smoke-free environment in  
            the facility and on the grounds of the facility.

          3)Prohibits smoking in any motor vehicle used to transport  
            foster children.

           EXISTING LAW  

          1)Establishes the California Community Care Facilities Act  
            (Act), which regulates various community care facilities,  
            including foster family homes and small family homes, as  
            defined, which provide care for foster children. 

          2)Requires the State Department of Social Services to adopt  
            regulations for these facilities, and requires that  
            regulations for a license prescribe standards of safety and  
            sanitation for the physical plant and standards for basic  
            personal care, supervision, and services bases upon the  
            category of licensure. 

          3)Defines and requires for licensure, under the Act, the  
            following facilities to serve youth in foster care:

             a)   Foster Family Agency (FFA), which recruits, certifies,  
               and trains foster parents and oversees certified family  
               homes for the temporary placement of children in foster  
               care;

             b)   Certified Family Home (CFH), which is a family residence  








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               certified by a FFA as meeting the Act's licensing  
               requirements to serve as a temporary placement for children  
               in foster care;

             c)   Foster Family Home (FFH), which provides 24-hour care  
               for six or fewer foster children and is owned, leased or  
               rented and is the residence of a foster parent; and

             d)   Small Family Home (FFH), which provides 24-hour care for  
               six or fewer foster children who have mental disorders or  
               developmental or physical disabilities and require special  
               care and supervision.

          4)Prohibits smoking in a motor vehicle, whether in motion or at  
            rest, when a minor is in the car.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown

           COMMENTS  :   

           Purpose of the bill  :  The state of California has a legal  
          obligation to protect the well-being of foster children.  AB 352  
          will ensure that foster children, already one of the most  
          vulnerable populations in our state, enjoy a safe and healthy  
          environment to live and thrive.

          According to the author, there are nearly 60,000 children who  
          are currently served by California's foster care system, 75% of  
          which are minorities.  Although foster homes are intended to be  
          a temporary home with the ultimate goal being a permanent living  
          arrangement, many foster children remain in foster care for  
          years.

          Exposure to secondhand smoke is hazardous to all people.  
          Children are particularly vulnerable to the effects of  
          secondhand smoke because they are still developing physically,  
          have higher breathing rates than adults and have little control  
          over their indoor environments.  Children exposed to high doses  
          of secondhand smoke run the greatest relative risk of  
          experiencing damaging health effects including asthma,  
          bronchitis, pneumonia and inner ear infections.

          California currently spends approximately one billion dollars  
          every year for board, care and services for foster children.   
          When foster children reside in an environment where their health  








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          is compromised by exposure to secondhand smoke, the state's  
          health care costs for tobacco-related medical conditions will  
          almost certainly rise.

          This measure is consistent with similar requirements in eighteen  
          other states, and three California counties, none of which have  
          reported problems in recruitment or a reduction in the number of  
          foster homes attributable to the smoke free policies in those  
          states. 

          It is important to note that nothing in this measure requires an  
          individual to quit smoking, just to forego smoking in the home  
          where the foster child resides or in the presence of the child.   
          The measure also exempts relatives and nonrelative extended  
          family relative caregivers so as not to dis-incentivize their  
          willingness to be a placement for foster youth.

           California's Child Welfare Services  :  The purpose of  
          California's Child welfare Services (CWS) system is to provide  
          for the protection and the health/safety of children.  The  
          desired outcome is to reunite children with biological parents,  
          when appropriate, in order to help preserve and strengthen  
          families.  When this is not possible, children are placed in the  
          best environment possible, whether with a relative, adoption, or  
          guardian, such as a nonrelative extended family member.

          In the case of children who are at risk of abuse, neglect or  
          abandonment, county juvenile courts hold legal jurisdiction, and  
          children are appointed a social worker.  Through the CWS system,  
          there are multiple stages where the custody of the child or  
          their placement is evaluated, reviewed and determined by the  
          judicial system, in consultation with the child's social worker,  
          to help provide the best possible services to the child.  At the  
          time a child is identified as needing services, the social  
          worker is required to identify whether there is a relative or  
          guardian to whom a child may be released.

          A court may deem a child a dependent or ward of the court,  
          including when the parent has been incarcerated or  
          institutionalized and is unable to arrange for care for the  
          child, such as placement with a known relative.  If the child is  
          deemed a dependent or ward of the court, the court may maintain  
          the child in his or her home, remove the child from the home but  
          with the goal of reunifying the child with his or her family, or  
          identify another form of permanent placement.  Unless the child  








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          is unable to be placed with the parent, the court is required to  
          give preference to a relative of the child in order to preserve  
          the child's association with his or her family.

           Facts about children in foster care in California  :  According to  
          the California Welfare Dynamic Report System, a statewide child  
          welfare database, there were approximately 56,495 children in  
          foster care as of January 1, 2013.  Nearly 20,000 of those are  
          in Los Angeles County alone. 

          According to information provided by the author, the average age  
          of foster youth in California was 11 years old in 2010.  Forty  
          six percent of foster children in California are Latino.  While  
          African American children comprise only 5.7% of the overall  
          children of the state, African American children make up roughly  
          25% of the foster children population in California. The average  
          stay for children in care on September 2010 was 16.4 months and  
          57% of the young people leaving the system were reunified with  
          their birth parent(s) or primary caregiver(s).  In 2010, 28%  
          children and youth living in out-of-home care were residing with  
          kin.

           Effects of secondhand smoke on children  :  While exposure to  
          secondhand smoke is harmful to adults and can trigger various  
          health complications, the physical effects of exposure to smoke  
          can be particularly dangerous to infants and children because  
          their bodies are still developing. 

          The Surgeon General has cited hundreds of medical studies and  
          reports proving the toxic effects of tobacco smoke on infants  
          and children, including the following findings.

               1)     Both babies whose mothers smoke while pregnant and  
                 babies who are exposed to secondhand smoke after birth  
                 are more likely to die from sudden infant death syndrome  
                 than babies who are not exposed to cigarette smoke.

               2)     Secondhand smoke exposure causes acute potentially  
                 fatal respiratory tract infections, such as bronchitis  
                 and pneumonia, in infants and young children, and  
                 respiratory symptoms, including cough, phlegm, wheezing  
                 and breathlessness, among school-aged children.

               3)     Exposure to secondhand smoke causes children who  
                 have asthma to experience more frequent and severe  








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                 attacks than children in non-smoker households.

               4)     Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at  
                 increased risks for eye and ear infections and are more  
                 likely to need operations to insert ear tubes for  
                 drainage.

               5)     Children who live in households with smokers have a  
                 greater risk of getting lung cancer during their  
                 lifetimes than children raised in a smoke-free  
                 environment. Even if children living with smokers do not  
                 immediately show physical effects of exposure to  
                 secondhand smoke, they may eventually develop cancer or  
                 other smoking-related chronic diseases.

               6)     Children exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely  
                 than those in nonsmoking households to experience  
                 learning and behavioral problems and to become smokers in  
                 adolescence or adulthood.

          The effects on foster children are even more pronounced.   
          Children are placed in foster care because of abuse, neglect, or  
          abandonment or parental problems.  Foster children have often  
          moved from one risky environment to another and are uniquely  
          vulnerable population.  The American Academy of Pediatrics  
          classifies them as children with special health care needs  
          because of the high prevalence of chronic medical, developmental  
          and mental health problems that typically precede foster care  
          placement.  Numerous studies have also shown the prevalence of  
          serious respiratory illness among foster children.

           Smoke free foster care policies in effect  :   By early 2011,  
          there were eighteen states that had passed laws or regulations  
          regulating smoking in foster care homes: Alaska, Arizona,  
          Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New  
          Jersey, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas,  
          Vermont, Washington, and Wyoming.  In California the counties of  
          San Luis Obispo, Monterrey, and Santa Cruz have all adopted  
          smoke free foster care policies. Although not specifically  
          written in statute, the California Code of Regulations prohibits  
          smoking in the home and the grounds of the home; this measure  
          codifies that prohibition.

          In the approximately 18 states with smoke-free policies, the  
          methods of enforcement follow the same basic process as it is  








                                                                  AB 352
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          for all foster parent requirements.  As part of the licensing  
          process, prospective foster parents are provided information  
          about policies, including the smoke-free requirement and sign  
          contracts agreeing to comply with these policies.  Social  
          service workers conduct home visits with both foster children  
          and foster parents on a regular basis to monitor and oversee  
          compliance with licensing requirements.  In addition, child  
          protection workers visit many foster homes, and are expected to  
          report apparent violations to licensing staff.

           Arguments in support  :  The California Black Health Network state  
          that children of color are disproportionately in foster care,  
          affected by asthma and other chronic conditions that can be  
          exacerbated by secondhand smoke.  We know that a number of  
          states have banned smoking in homes that have foster children  
          and in the motor vehicles that transport them. 

          Supporters also argue that the dangerous effects of smoking and  
          secondhand smoke are well documented.  It is important that  
          people who wish to provide foster care keep the health and  
          wellbeing of the child as a top priority.  The state has a  
          responsibility to ensure that foster children, who are  
          considered wards of the state, are protected in their homes.

          Implementation of AB 352 will bring California in line with 18  
          other states who have embraced smoke-free foster homes.  San  
          Luis Obispo, Monterey and Santa Cruz counties currently prohibit  
          smoking in foster homes and cars transporting children as well.  
          It is time to make this statewide regulation to protect every  
          foster child.

           Double referred  :  AB 352 (Hall) was heard in Assembly Human  
          Services Committee on April 16, 2013.  The bill was passed with  
          a vote of 5-2.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           

          Support 
           
          Crittenton Services for Children and Families
          California Black Health Network
          National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter









                                                                  AB 352
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           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Felipe Lopez / G. O. / (916) 319-2531