BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






                             SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE
                             Senator Noreen Evans, Chair
                              2013-2014 Regular Session


          AB 787 (Stone)
          As Amended June 14, 2013
          Hearing Date: June 25, 2013
          Fiscal: Yes
          Urgency: No
          NR


                                        SUBJECT
                                           
                                     Foster care

                                      DESCRIPTION  

          This bill would make clarifying and technical changes to the  
          California Fostering Connections to Success Act (Act) to ensure  
          the continued implementation of the Act.  Specifically, this  
          bill would:
           clarify that former nonminor dependents (NMD) who reached  
            permanency, but whose guardian, relative, or adoptive parent  
            died before their 21st birthday, may re-enter extended foster  
            care;
           authorize probation officers to place NMDs in approved  
            transitional placements;
           add the existing definition of "transition dependent" to the  
            relevant code section which determines recipients of Aid to  
            Families with Dependent Children Foster Care (AFDC-FC); 
           clarify how the court may terminate jurisdiction over a NMD,  
            but still retain the ability to monitor them as a nonminor;  
            and
           make other clarifying and technical changes.

                                      BACKGROUND  

          Each year in California, about 5,000 youth emancipate from  
          foster care, which is by far the largest number of any state in  
          the union.  Over the past ten years, according to data from the  
          state's Child Welfare Services/Case Management System, about  
          52,000 Californians have emancipated from foster care (from  
          3,974 in 1998-99 to 5,387 in 2008-09).  The immediate outcomes  
          for these young adults are sobering.  Studies have shown that  
                                                                (more)



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          former foster youth, when compared to other young adults of the  
          same age and race, are less likely to complete high school,  
          attend college, or be employed.  They are also at a higher risk  
          for becoming homeless and arrested or incarcerated.  (See Foster  
          Care in California, Public Policy Institute of California,  
          2010.)

          In 1998, California established the Kinship Guardianship  
          Assistance Payment program (the Kin-GAP program) to provide  
          financial assistance for children who, after being adjudged  
          dependent children of the juvenile court, are placed in legal  
          guardianship with a relative.  (SB 1901 (McPherson, Chapter  
          1055, Statutes of 1998).)  The bill was the result of a study  
          that concluded that most relative caregivers have strong  
          commitments to the children in their care, but are averse to  
          adoption because it requires the termination of the parental  
          rights of one of their family members.  Moreover, while most  
          relative caregivers supported permanency planning for a child,  
          many did not pursue legal guardianship for fear of losing the  
          needed financial support they obtained under the foster care  
          system.  

          In October 2008, the federal government enacted the Fostering  
          Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Public Law  
          110-351) which offers states the opportunity to opt-in to new  
          federal funding streams if they choose to provide  
          kinship-guardianship benefits to relative guardians or provide  
          foster care to 18 to 21-year-old youth.  AB 12 (Beall and Bass,  
          Chapter 559, Statutes of 2010), the California Fostering  
          Connections to Success Act (Act), allowed California to collect  
          federal funds for a significant part of California's decade-old,  
          state-funded Kin-GAP program.  AB 12 also authorized the  
          juvenile courts to exercise jurisdiction over and extend foster  
          benefits to nonminor dependents between the ages of 18 to 21 if  
          they meet the specified criteria.  One year later, the  
          Legislature enacted AB 212 (Beall, Chapter 459, Statutes of  
          2011) to aid in the implementation of the Act.  Last year AB  
          1712 (Beall, Chapter 846, Statutes of 2012), further clarified  
          specific issues related to that implementation.  This bill will  
          continue the Legislature's efforts to ensure the Act is properly  
          implemented, by making technical and clarifying changes. 

                                CHANGES TO EXISTING LAW
           
           Existing law  , the California Fostering Connections to Success  
          Act (Act), is a voluntary program for youth who meet specified  
                                                                      



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          work and education participation criteria. The Act provides,  
          among other things, for the extension of transitional foster  
          care benefits to eligible youth up to age 21, as specified. (AB  
          12 (Beall), Chapter 559, Statutes of 2010.)

           Existing law  provides for the voluntary continuation or reentry  
          into foster care for nonminor dependents who meet general Aid to  
          Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care (AFDC-FC)  
          requirements, and when the nonminor youth has signed a voluntary  
          mutual agreement and one or more of the following conditions  
          exist:
           the nonminor is working toward their high school education or  
            an equivalent credential; 
           the nonminor is enrolled in a postsecondary institution or  
            vocational education program;
           The nonminor is participating in a program or activity  
            designed to promote or remove barriers to employment;
           The nonminor is employed for at least 80 hours per month;  
            and/or,
           The nonminor is incapable of doing any of the activities  
            described above, due to a medical condition, and that  
            incapability is supported by regularly updated information in  
            the case plan of the nonminor.  (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec.  
            11403.)
           
          Existing law  provides that nonminor former dependents are not  
          eligible for re-entry into extended foster care as nonminor  
          dependents of the juvenile court. (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec.  
          11403.)
           
          Existing law  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, county probation department, or an Indian tribe, and  
          is participating in a transitional independent living plan.  
          (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec. 11400.)
           
          Existing law  defines "nonminor former dependent or ward" as  
          either:
           a nonminor who reached 18 years of age while subject to an  
            order for foster care placement, for whom dependency,  
            delinquency, or transition jurisdiction has been terminated,  
            and who is still under the general jurisdiction of the court;  
            or
           a nonminor who is over 18 years of age and, while a minor, was  
            a dependent child or ward of the juvenile court when the  
                                                                      



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            guardianship was established, as specified, and the juvenile  
            court dependency or wardship was dismissed following the  
            establishment of the guardianship. (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec.  
            11400 (aa).)

           Existing law  defines a "transition dependent" as a minor who is  
          between 17 years and five months and 18 years of age, who is in  
          foster care, and subject to the court's transition jurisdiction.  
          (Welf. & Inst. Code Sec. 450.)

           This bill  would clarify that former NMDs, under the age of 21,  
          who reached permanency but whose guardian, relative, or adoptive  
          parent died before the dependent reaches age 21, may reenter  
          into extended foster care if eligible under the Act. 

           This bill  would allow a probation officer to place a NMD in any  
          of the following:
           the approved home of a relative or nonrelative extended family  
            member;
           a suitable licensed community care facility; or
           with a foster family agency to be placed in a licensed foster  
            family home or certified family home.

           This bill  would allow transition dependents to receive aid under  
          AFDC-FC by adding the existing definition of "transition  
          dependent" to the list of qualifying individuals.   

           This bill  would exempt a nonrelated legal guardian and county  
          responsible for the care of a nonminor whose nonrelated legal  
          guardianship was ordered in Probate Court, from case management  
          requirements applicable to AFDC-FC nonrelated legal  
          guardianship.

           This bill  would make additional technical and clarifying changes  
          in implementing the Fostering Connections to Success Act. 

                                        COMMENT
           
           1.Stated need for the bill
           
          According to the author:

            In 2010 the state adopted AB 12 (Beall/Bass), which opted  
            California into two provisions of the federal Fostering  
            Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008  
            (Public Law 110-351). This landmark child welfare legislation  
                                                                      



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            was substantial, 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. 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 will continue the  
            Legislature's efforts to ensure that California's child  
            welfare system can continue to enhance and provide necessary  
            and integral support services to foster youth.

           2.Transitional placements for nonminor dependents who are wards  
            of the court
           
          Existing law allows nonminor dependents (NMDs) to be placed in  
          specified transitional housing in order to provide them with  
          supportive services as they transition into independent living.   
          Probation foster youth who turn 18 while serving their probation  
          are also eligible for extended foster care, but existing law did  
          not expressly provide that they may be placed in transitional  
          housing.  The author argues that this has led to some  
          "challenges probation officers face in finding appropriate  
          placements for probation foster youth who have turned 18 while  
          still serving out their probation." 

          Accordingly, this bill would add appropriate references to  
          "nonminors" in existing sections under which probation officers  
          have placement authority over wards. In support of this bill,  
          the California Alliance for Child and Family Services 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."


           3.Clarifying reentry for former nonminor dependents who achieved  
            permanency
                                                                      



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          Under existing law, the court may resume jurisdiction of a  
          former minor dependent or ward if a 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 may continue receiving  
          the benefits and support of the foster system.  Additionally, a  
          foster youth who turn 18 years of age while in foster care, but  
          who does not sign an extended foster care agreement, or who  
          leaves foster care voluntarily, is eligible to return to  
          extended foster care until 21 years of age.  

          Similar provisions were inadvertently left out of the Fostering  
          Connections to Success Act for former NMDs, or foster youth who  
          achieved permanency with a guardian or adoptive parent who died  
          before the youth turned 21 years of age.  This has resulted in  
          some former NMDs being left without a parent or guardian, and  
          without the ability to reenter into foster care.  This bill  
          would remedy that situation by allowing former NMDs to reenter  
          extended foster care if their guardian or adoptive parent dies  
          before the youth turns 21 years of age. 

           4.Allows transition dependents to receive appropriate aid
           
          Existing law provides that a ward who is older than 17 years and  
          5 months of age and younger than 18 years of age and in foster  
          care placement, as specified, is within the transition  
          jurisdiction of the juvenile court.  These youths are referred  
          to as "transition dependents."  However, the relevant section of  
          the Welfare & Institutions Code, which establishes what  
          individuals are eligible for Aid to Families with Dependent  
          Children - Foster Care (AFDC-FC), makes no mention of transition  
          dependents. 

          This bill would add the definition of transition dependent to  
          the AFCD-FC to ensure that these youths, who are subject to the  
          court's jurisdiction, are not denied aid. 

           
           Support  :  Alliance for Children's Rights; Aspira Net; Children's  
          Law Center of California; California Coalition for Youth;  
          California Police Chiefs Association; Judicial Council of  
          California

           Opposition  :  None Known
                                          
                                                                      



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                                       HISTORY
           
           Source  :  California Alliance of Child and Family Services;  
          California Welfare Directors Association


           Related Pending Legislation  : AB 985 (Cooley) would extend state  
          Kin-GAP benefits from age 18 to age 21 for former nonminor  
          dependents who were placed with relative guardians prior to the  
          age of 16. This bill is set for hearing in Senate Human Services  
          on June 25, 2013.  

           Prior Legislation  :

          AB 12 (Beall and Bass, Chapter 559, Statutes of 2010)  
          established the California Fostering Connections to Success Act,  
          which extended transitional foster care services to eligible  
          youth between ages 18 and 21 and required California to seek  
          federal financial participation for Kin-GAP.

          AB 212 (Beall, Chapter 459, Statutes of 2011) made technical and  
          clarifying changes to the California Fostering Connections to  
          Success Act.

          AB 1712 (Beall, Chapter 846, Statutes of 2012) made technical  
          and clarifying changes to the California Fostering Connections  
          to Success Act.

           Prior Vote  :

          Senate Human Services Committee (Ayes 6, Noes 0)
          Assembly Floor (Ayes 70, Noes 0)
          Assembly Appropriations Committee (Ayes 17, Noes 0)
          Assembly Judiciary Committee (Ayes 10, Noes 0)
          Assembly Human Services Committee (Ayes 7, Noes 0)

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