BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ó




                   Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary
                            Senator Kevin de León, Chair


          SB 342 (Yee) - Foster children: social worker visits.
          
          Amended: As Introduced          Policy Vote: Human Services 6-0
          Urgency: No                     Mandate: Yes (See Staff  
          Comments)
          Hearing Date: May 23, 2013      Consultant: Jolie Onodera
          
          SUSPENSE FILE. AS PROPOSED TO BE AMENDED.
          
          
          Bill Summary: SB 342 would require mandated visits by county  
          caseworkers to occur in the group home or foster home of the  
          child. This bill would additionally require county caseworkers  
          to advise the foster child that he or she has the right to  
          request a private discussion outside of the group home or foster  
          home. That private discussion would not replace the mandated  
          visit in the group home or foster home.

          Fiscal Impact: Potential increased annual state costs  
          (non-reimbursable) of an unknown, but potentially significant  
          amount to the extent the provisions of this bill result in an  
          extended amount of time per visit for certain cases than  
          otherwise would occur under existing law. For every 10 percent  
          of visits that currently occur outside the home (24 percent),  
          which equates to 2.4 percent of total visits, 30 minutes of  
          additional time could result in costs of approximately $475,000  
          per year. 

          Background: Existing federal law pursuant to the Child and  
          Family Services Improvement Act of 2006 (Public Law (P.L.)  
          109-288) requires that foster children be visited at least on a  
          monthly basis. In order to avoid federal penalties for  
          non-compliance, at least 90 percent of foster children must be  
          visited each month, and the majority of the child's monthly  
          visits must occur in the home. The Child and Family Services  
          Improvement and Innovation Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-34) mandates  
          that by 2015, at least 95 percent of children in foster care  
          under the jurisdiction of the court must be visited monthly.

          Current state law requires all foster children placed in group  
          homes by county human services departments or county probation  
          departments to be visited at least monthly by a county social  
          worker or probation officer. Each visit must include a private  







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          discussion between the foster child and the county social worker  
          or probation officer, and the discussion is not to be held in  
          the presence or immediate vicinity of the group home staff.  
          Similarly, when a county social worker or probation officer  
          makes a regular visit with a child in any licensed, certified,  
          or approved foster home, the visit must include a private  
          discussion between the foster child and the caseworker, and the  
          discussion may not be held in the presence or immediate vicinity  
          of the foster parent or caregiver.

          Consistent with federal law, current state regulations do not  
          mandate that each case worker visit must be made in the home of  
          the child, but instead require the majority of caseworker visits  
          with the child to take place in the child's residence. 

          According to recent data from the Department of Social Services  
          (DSS), approximately 24 percent of required monthly visits do  
          not occur at the foster home or group home where the youth  
          resides. 

          Proposed Law: This bill:
              Requires the mandatory monthly caseworker visits of foster  
              children placed in group homes or licensed, certified, or  
              approved foster homes, to occur in the group home or foster  
              home, respectively.
              Requires the caseworker to advise the foster child of his  
              or her right to request the private discussion occur  
              separately, outside the group home or foster home.
              Provides that this private discussion shall not replace the  
              visit in the group home or foster home. 

          Staff Comments: By requiring each monthly visit to a foster  
          youth to occur in the home, and to require caseworkers to advise  
          foster youth of their right to request a private discussion  
          outside the home that would not replace the in-home visit, this  
          bill could result in increased annual costs related to an  
          increase in the number of caseworker visits or extended time  
          spent per visit by caseworkers to accommodate the private  
          discussion outside the home. It is estimated that 24 percent of  
          monthly visits to foster youth currently occur outside the group  
          home or foster home (i.e., at schools or restaurants). It is  
          unknown how many visits that currently occur outside the home  
          would continue to hold a visit outside the home in addition to  
          the requirement to conduct a monthly in-home visit. For every 10  
          percent of total monthly visits currently conducted outside the  







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          home, which would equate to about two percent of total annual  
          visits, extending the visit for 30 minutes or conducting a  
          separate visit could result in increased annual costs of  
          $475,000 to $2 million per year. This estimate does not assume  
          monthly visits that currently take place in the home (76  
          percent) would be impacted by the new requirements.

          Prior to Fiscal Year (FY) 2011-12, the state and counties  
          contributed to the non-federal share of child welfare services  
          expenditures. AB 118 (Committee on Budget) Chapter 40/2011 and  
          ABX1 16 Chapter 13/2011 realigned state funding to the counties  
          through the Local Revenue Fund (LRF) for various programs,  
          including child welfare services. As a result, beginning in FY  
          2011-12 and for each fiscal year thereafter, non-federal funding  
          and expenditures for child welfare services activities including  
          monthly visits to foster youth are funded through the LRF.

          Proposition 30, passed by the voters in November 2012, among  
          other provisions, eliminated any potential mandate funding  
          liability for any new program or higher level of service  
          provided by counties related to the realigned programs. Although  
          the provisions of this bill are a mandate on local agencies, any  
          increased costs would not appear to be subject to reimbursement  
          by the state. Rather, Proposition 30 specifies that for  
          legislation enacted after September 30, 2012, that has an  
          overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local  
          agency for realigned programs, the provisions shall apply to  
          local agencies only to the extent that the state provides annual  
          funding for the cost increase.  

          Author amendments clarify that not more than one visit is  
          required per month.