BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 787
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          Date of Hearing:   April 16, 2013

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES
                                  Mark Stone, Chair
                     AB 787 (Stone) - As Amended:  March 19, 2013
           
          SUBJECT  :  Fostering Connections to Success Act

           SUMMARY  :  Makes various technical and clarifying changes to the  
          California Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010.   
          Specifically,  this bill  :   

          1)Revises foster care disposition statute to allow probation  
            officers to place non-minor dependents (NMD) into AB 12  
            approved transitional services placements.

          2)Removes case management requirements for non-federal IV-E  
            eligible state Kinship Guardian Assistance Payment Program  
            (KinGap) youth prospectively, which would align statute with  
            case management requirements under federal Title IV-E eligible  
            KinGap youth requirements.

          3)Allows re-entry into nonminor dependency for former NMDs who  
            reached permanency and whose guardian, relative or adoptive  
            parent died before their 21st birthday.

          4)Clarifies how the court may terminate jurisdiction of a NMD,  
            but still retain the ability to monitor them as a nonminor. 

           EXISTING LAW   

          1)Establishes the California Fostering Connections to Success  
            Act of 2010 which, among other provisions:

             a)   Provides for the extension of transitional foster care  
               to eligible youth up to age 21 as a voluntary program for  
               youth who meet specified work and education participation  
               criteria; and,

             b)   Requires changes to the Kin-GAP program in order to  
               allow for federal financial participation in the program.

          2)Defines a "nonminor dependent" as a current or former foster  
            child between the ages of 18 and 21 who is in foster care  
            under the responsibility of the county welfare department,  








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            county probation department, or Indian Tribe and is  
            participating in a transitional independent living plan.  

          3)Defines a "transition dependent" as a minor who is between 17  
            years and five months of age and 18 years of age who is  
            subject to the court's transition jurisdiction.

          4)Defines a "nonrelative extended family member" (NREFM) as any  
            adult caregiver who has an established familial or mentoring  
            relationship with a child and requires a county welfare  
            department to verify the existence of this relationship, as  
            specified.

          5)Allows a juvenile court to adjudge a child or a nonminor a  
            ward or a dependent of the court for specified reasons,  
            including but not limited to if the child or nonminor has been  
            neglected or abused or has committed a crime, as specified.

          6)Establishes a process for the identification and placement of  
            a ward, dependent, or nonminor of the court with a parent,  
            relative, extended relative or other form of guardianship.

          7)Provides that a nonminor ages 18-21 shall continue to receive  
            foster care assistance under certain conditions, including  
            that the nonminor is otherwise eligible for AFDC-FC benefits,  
            has signed a mutual agreement, and when one or more of the  
            following conditions exist:

             a)   The nonminor is working toward their high school  
               education or an equivalent credential;

             b)   The nonminor is enrolled in a postsecondary institution  
               or vocational education program;

             c)   The nonminor is participating in a program or activity  
               designed to promote, or remove barriers to employment;

             d)   The nonminor is employed for at least 80 hours per  
               month; or

             e)   The nonminor is incapable of doing any of the activities  
               described in (a) through (d) above, due to a medical  
               condition, and that incapability is supported by regularly  
               updated information in the case plan of the nonminor.









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          8)Federal law, requires states to develop a transition plan with  
            foster youth, addressing specified outcome areas 90 days prior  
            to emancipation, and to include information about the  
            importance of designating someone to make health care  
            treatment decisions on behalf of the child in addition to the  
            option of a health care power of attorney, health care proxy,  
            or similar document.  Public Law (P.L.) 110-148, P.L. 110-351

          9)Authorizes a court to resume jurisdiction over a former NMD  
            under specified circumstances if the nonminor signs a mutual  
            transition or voluntary reentry agreement.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  Unknown

           BACKGROUND:

          California Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010:   AB 12  
          (Beall & Bass) Chapter 559, Statutes of 2010, was a landmark  
          piece of child welfare legislation in California opting the  
          state into two provisions of the federal Fostering Connections  
          to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (Fostering  
          Connections Act) (P.L. 110-351).  Specifically, the California  
          Fostering Connections to Success Act: 

          1)Re-enacted California's existing state and county-funded  
            Kin-GAP program to align it with new federal requirements and  
            allow the state to bring federal financial participation into  
            our kinship guardian assistance program for the first time;  
            and, 

          2)Provides transitional foster care support to qualifying foster  
            youth ages 18 to 21, phased-in over three years, beginning in  
            2012.

          The goal of AB 12 is to assist foster youth, or "nonminor  
          dependents" as they are referred to in statute, in their  
          transition to adulthood by providing them with the opportunity  
          to create a case plan alongside their case worker tailored to  
          their individual needs, which charts the course towards  
          independence through incremental levels of responsibility.  It  
          is a voluntary program grounded in evidence of how the option of  
          continued support to age 21 can counter the dismal outcomes  
          faced by youth who are forced to leave the foster care system at  
          age 18, including high rates of homelessness, incarceration,  
          reliance on public assistance, teen pregnancy, and low rates of  








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          high school and postsecondary graduation.  

          In essence, AB 12 seeks to mirror the type of continued guidance  
          and assistance most young adults receive from their parents and  
          families in their late teens and early twenties.  Following this  
          paradigm, AB 12 provides nonminors with the option to petition  
          to reenter care if they opt out of extended care and want to  
          return before age 21, provided they meet the eligibility  
          criteria set forth in federal and state law.

          In order to be eligible to continue foster care benefits up to  
          age 21, a nonminor dependent youth must: continue under the  
          jurisdiction of the juvenile court; sign a mutual agreement  
          which commits both the nonminor and the placing agency to  
          certain responsibilities; reside in an approved, supervised  
          placement; work alongside their caseworker to prepare and  
          participate in their transitional independent living case plan;  
          and have their status reviewed every six months.  In addition,  
          pursuant to the federal Fostering Connections Act, a youth must  
          meet one of five work or education-related eligibility criteria:

          1)Is completing secondary education or a program leading to an  
            equivalent credential;

          2)Is enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or  
            vocational education;

          3)Is participating in a program or activity designed to promote,  
            or remove barriers to employment;

          4)Is employed for at least 80 hours per month; or

          5)Is incapable of doing any of the activities described above  
            due to a medical condition.

           COMMENTS  :

          The California Fostering Connections to Success Act (FCSA) of  
          2010 was landmark child welfare legislation, however, it was  
          also substantial in size, amounting to 207 pages at the time of  
          adoption.  Due to the complexity and fundamental improvements  
          this act made to the state's welfare system, follow up  
          legislation has been needed since its adoption to help ensure  
          its successful implementation. 









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          Since its passage, the Legislature has passed and the state has  
          adopted two successive measures to this effect; AB 212 (Beall)  
          from 2011 and AB 1712 (Beall) from 2012.  Like its predecessors,  
          AB 787 continues the Legislature's efforts to ensure the FCSA is  
          properly implemented to provide necessary and integral support  
          services to foster youth as they prepare and transition into  
          adulthood.


           NEED FOR THE BILL  

           Re-Entry for former NMDs
           Current law provides opportunities for the court to resume  
          jurisdiction of a former minor dependent or ward of the court  
          for specified reasons, including whether the parent, guardian or  
          adoptive parent with whom the youth reached permanency has  
          passed away.  In these cases, the county may petition the court  
          to resume jurisdiction so that the child can remain in a healthy  
          and safe environment.  However, this same opportunity was  
          inadvertently left out of previous FCSA measures for NMDs who  
          had reached permanency.  This has resulted in some NMDs being  
          left without a parent or guardian and without the ability to  
          voluntarily re-enter foster care. 

          AB 787 would remedy this by amending Section 388 of the Welfare  
          and Institutions (W&I) Code to allow for the voluntary re-entry  
          of NMDs into foster care, either through the request of the NMD  
          or under a petition filed by the county. 

           Appropriate placements for NMDS who are wards of the court
           Current law allows NMDs to be placed into appropriate  
          transitional housing services placements to help provide them  
          the supportive services to prepare for independent living and  
          adulthood.  However, for the placement of NMDs who are wards of  
          the court, the W&I Code provides probation officers the  
          authority to place wards into appropriate placements, but not  
          the same authority to place NMDs who are wards into appropriate  
          transitional housing placements as established by the FCSA.   
          This is a necessary authority inadvertently not provided to  
          probation officers, who have legal jurisdiction over the NMD by  
          order of the court. 

          AB 787 would solve this by simply adding in appropriate  
          references to nonminor in existing W&I Code sections under which  
          probation officers already have placement authority over wards. 








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          Kinship Guardian Assistance Payment (KinGap) Program Case  
          Management
           Under the FCSA, the state expanded the definition of a relative  
          to include NREFMs.  This allowed courts to place minors and NMDs  
          with a relative or a NREFM as their permanent guardian and  
          dismiss dependency, but also provide them support services  
          through the KinGap Program to maintain and ensure the success of  
          their permanency placement.  However, whereas federally funded  
          KinGap services do not require county case management, state  
          funded KinGap does.  

          AB 787 would bring state KinGap Program requirements into  
          alignment with federal KinGap Program requirements by  
          eliminating the county case management requirement for state  
          KinGap Program recipients.  This would also result in a cost  
          savings to the state by eliminating unnecessary county case  
          management requirements.  

          Necessary technical clarifications
           AB 787 amends provisions in Section 11400 of the W&I Code, which  
          established the operative definitions for the FCSA to include a  
          reference to a "transition dependent" as it exists in another  
          portion of the code.





























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           SUPPORT:
           
          One of the co-sponsors, the California Alliance for Children's  
          Rights, writes in support of the bill:

               The extended foster care benefits provided through the  
               California FCSA have been available since January 1, 2012.   
               Over the course of the last year, as youth began exercising  
               their option to remain in foster care after the age of 18,  
               we have identified several areas of the California  
               Fostering Connections to Success Act that require technical  
                or conforming changes in order to ensure that the true  
               promise of this landmark bill is achieved.  The  
               beneficiaries of these amendments contained in AB 787 will  
               be the youth whom The Alliance for Children's Rights serves  
               as they "age out" of the foster care system.  AB 787 will  
               ensure that these vulnerable young adults will be able to  
               take full advantage of the opportunities offered through  
               the California Fostering Connections to Success Act.

          The California Alliance for Child and Family Services also  
          writes:

               We strongly support the provisions in AB 787 to ensure  
               smooth transitions for foster youth who choose to remain in  
               foster care after they turn 18.  Of specific interest to  
               the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, this  
               bill will allow probation officers to place non-minor  
               dependents into foster care placements such as foster  
               families and transitional housing; and will allow non-minor  
               dependents who were adopted or placed in guardianships and  
               whose parent or guardian dies before the youth is 21, to  
               re-enter extended foster care as long as they continue to  
               meet the eligibility requirements for care.  

           DOUBLE REFERRAL  :  This bill has been double-referred.  Should  
          this bill pass out of this committee, it will be referred to the  
          Assembly Judiciary Committee.

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          California Alliance of Child and Family Services co-sponsor








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          The Alliance for Children's Rights - co-sponsor
          California Police Chiefs
          Children's Law Center of California (CLC)
          County Welfare Directors Association of California (CWDA)

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           
          Analysis Prepared by  :    Chris Reefe / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089