BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    AB 1879


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          Date of Hearing:  March 29, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON HUMAN SERVICES


                                Susan Bonilla, Chair


          AB 1879  
          (McCarty) - As Amended March 28, 2016


          SUBJECT:  Foster youth:  permanency


          SUMMARY:  Requires the provision of child-centered specialized  
          permanency services for specified foster youth, and authorizes  
          the provision of these services for specified nonminor  
          dependents, in order to facilitate the placement of these youth  
          and nonminor dependents with permanent families.


          Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Defines "child-centered specialized permanency services" to  
            mean services designed for, and with, a child to:


             a)   address the child's history of trauma, separation, and  
               loss; 


             b)   include mental health services or other services, as  
               specified;


             c)   utilize enhanced family finding and engagement to assist  








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               the child in achieving a permanent family, as specified; 


             d)   prepare the permanent family to meet the child's needs;


             e)   set appropriate expectations for before and after  
               permanency; and 


             f)   stabilize the placement.


          2)Requires the court, when it has determined that it is not in  
            the best interests of the child to hold a hearing to terminate  
            parental rights, to order the provision of child-centered  
            specialized permanency services for:


             a)   a child who is not placed with a fit and willing  
               relative; 


             b)   a child 16 years or age or older for whom the court has  
               ordered placement in an "another planned permanent living  
               arrangement" ("APPLA") (i.e., long-term foster care);


             c)   a child placed in a residential treatment facility for  
               whom the court has determined that adoption is currently  
               unlikely or undesirable;


             d)   a child that the court has deemed to have a probability  
               for adoption but is deemed difficult to place, as  
               specified; and


             e)   a child for whom an available and suitable legal  








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               guardian has not yet been found, as specified.


          3)Permits the court, when it has determined that it is not in  
            the best interests of the child to hold a hearing to terminate  
            parental rights, to order the provision of child-centered  
            specialized permanency services for a nonminor dependent for  
            whom the court has ordered placement in long-term foster care.



          4)Requires the court in some cases and permits it in others,  
            when it has determined that it is not in the best interests of  
            the child to hold a hearing to terminate parental rights and  
            when it has ordered a child 16 years of age or older or a  
            nonminor dependent to be placed in long-term foster care, to  
            order that the appropriateness of the child's continuation in  
            long-term foster care be assessed at the next review hearing,  
            as specified.

          5)Includes child-centered specialized permanency services among  
            the efforts a child welfare agency or probation department  
            must show the court it has made in an attempt to achieve  
            permanency for the child or nonminor dependent when the court  
            is reviewing the status of a dependent child or nonminor  
            dependent or ward of the juvenile court, as specified.



          6)Requires the court, at hearings reviewing the status of a  
            dependent child, as specified, to assess progress towards  
            placement in a permanent family for a child placed in a  
            residential treatment facility when the court has determined  
            that adoption is currently unlikely or undesirable for that  
            child and that it is not in the best interests of the child to  
            hold a hearing to terminate parental rights.











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          7)Stipulates that permanent placement services, designed to  
            provide an alternate permanent family structure for children  
            who because of abuse, neglect, or exploitation cannot safely  
            remain at home and who are unlikely to ever return home,  
            shall, as needed to achieve a permanent family, include  
            child-centered specialized permanency services.  Further,  
            permits permanent placement services for nonminor dependents  
            to include child-centered specialized permanency services and  
            requires permanent placement services for nonminor dependents  
            to include supportive transition services.  





          8)Requires information regarding, and documentation of the  
            provision of, child-centered specialized permanency services  
            to be included in a youth's case-planning processes, as  
            specified.

          9)Requires a social worker or probation officer, when the court  
            has ordered a dependent child or a ward of the juvenile court  
            placed for adoption or has appointed a relative or nonrelative  
            legal guardian, to provide the prospective adoptive family or  
            the guardian(s) written information regarding the importance  
            of working with mental health providers that have specialized  
            adoption or permanency clinical training and experience if the  
            family needs clinical support, and a description of the  
            desirable clinical expertise the family should look for when  
            choosing an adoption- or permanency-competent mental health  
            professional.



          10)Makes technical changes.


          









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          EXISTING LAW:  


          1)Permits the juvenile court to adjudge a child a dependent of  
            the court for specified reasons, including, but not limited  
            to, if a child has suffered or is at substantial risk of  
            suffering serious physical harm, emotional damage, or sexual  
            abuse, as specified.  (WIC 300)


          2)States that the purpose of foster care law is to provide  
            maximum safety and protection for children who are currently  
            being physically, sexually, or emotionally abused, neglected,  
            or exploited, and to ensure the safety, protection, and  
            physical and emotional well-being of children who are at risk  
            of harm.  (WIC 300.2)


          3)Declares the intent of the Legislature to, whenever possible,  
            preserve and strengthen a child's family ties and, when a  
            child must be removed from the physical custody of his or her  
            parents, to give preferential consideration to placement with  
            relatives.  States the intent of the Legislature to reaffirm  
            its commitment to children who are in out-of-home placement to  
            live in the least restrictive family setting and as close to  
            the child's family as possible, as specified.  Further states  
            the intent of the Legislature that all children live with a  
            committed, permanent, nurturing family and states that  
            services and supports should be tailored to meet the specific  
            needs of the individual child and family being served, as  
            specified.  (WIC 16000)


          4)Requires out-of-home placement of a child in foster care to be  
            based upon selection of a safe setting that is the least  
            restrictive family setting that promotes normal childhood  
            experiences and the most appropriate setting that meets the  
            child's individual needs, as specified.  Further requires the  








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            selection of placement to consider, in order of priority,  
            placement with:  relatives, nonrelated extended family  
            members, and tribal members; foster family homes, resource  
            families, and nontreatment certified homes of foster family  
            agencies; followed by treatment and intensive treatment  
            certified homes of foster family agencies or multidimensional  
            treatment foster care homes or therapeutic foster care homes;  
            group care placements in the order of short-term residential  
            treatment centers, group homes, community treatment  
            facilities, and out-of-state residential treatment, as  
            specified.  (WIC 16501.1(d)(1))


          5)Establishes requirements and processes for the court, and  
            further provides for various hearings to review the status of  
            the dependent child during which certain case information  
            regarding the child must be provided and reviewed.  (WIC  
            360-370)


          6)Defines "nonminor dependent" as a current or former foster  
            youth who is between18 and 21 years old, in foster care under  
            the responsibility of the county welfare department, county  
            probation department, or Indian Tribe, and participating in a  
            transitional independent living plan, as specified.  (WIC  
            11400 (v))


          7)Establishes the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening  
            Families Act in federal law, which includes new requirements  
            for states and counties regarding sex trafficking prevention  
            and reporting, data collection, reasonable and prudent parent  
            standards, adoption incentives payments, successor  
            guardianship, and successful adulthood.  (Public Law 113-183) 


          8)Defines a "planned permanent living arrangement" to mean any  
            permanent living arrangement that is ordered by the court for  
            a minor 16 years of age or older when there is a compelling  








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            reason or reasons to determine that it is not in the best  
            interest of the minor to have a permanent plan, as specified;  
            states that a planned permanent living arrangement can  
            include, but not be limited to, placement in:  a specific,  
            identified foster family home, program or facility on a  
            permanent basis or placement in a transitional housing  
            placement facility.  Further, permits a court to place a minor  
            in a planned permanent living arrangement only if the court  
            finds that there is a compelling reason, as specified, for  
            determining that terminating parental rights and adoption are  
            not in best interest of the minor.  (WIC 727.3)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.


          COMMENTS:  


          Child Welfare Services:  The purpose of California's Child  
          Welfare Services (CWS) system is to protect children from abuse  
          and neglect and provide for their health and safety.  When  
          children are identified as being at risk of abuse, neglect or  
          abandonment, county juvenile courts hold legal jurisdiction and  
          children are served by the CWS system through the appointment of  
          a social worker.  Through this system, there are multiple  
          opportunities for the custody of the child, or his or her  
          placement outside of the home, to be 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.  The CWS system seeks to help children  
          who have been removed from their homes reunify with their  
          parents or guardians, whenever appropriate, or unite them with  
          other individuals they consider to be family.  













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          As of October 1, 2015, there were 62,605 children in  
          California's child welfare system.  Of those, 9,079 had been in  
          foster care for five years or more; 37% of those in foster care  
          five years or more were between the ages of 18 and 20, 22%  
          between the ages of 16 and 17, 29% between the ages of 11 and  
          15, and 11% between the ages of 3 and 5.





          Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act:  The  
          Preventing Sex Trafficking, and Strengthening Families Act  
          (Public Law 113-183), adopted in 2014, made numerous changes to  
          the title IV-E foster care program and enacted new requirements  
          regarding sex trafficking prevention and reporting, data  
          collection, reasonable and prudent parent standards, adoption  
          incentives payments, successor guardianship, and successful  
          adulthood.  





          Conforming state legislation (SB 794 [Senate Committee on Human  
          Services], Chapter 425, Statutes of 2015), made a number of  
          changes to state law, including eliminating the option of  
          long-term foster care placement (APPLA) for dependent children  
          under the age of 16, and requiring permanency review hearing  
          documents for children 16 years of age or older and in a planned  
          permanent living arrangement to include a description of the  
          intensive and ongoing efforts of the child welfare agency to  
          return the child to the home of the parent, place the child for  
          adoption, or establish a legal guardianship, as appropriate.   
          Child welfare agencies are also required, in these documents, to  
          describe any barriers to achieving the permanent plan and the  
          efforts made by the child welfare agency to address those  
          barriers.









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          Need for this bill:  According to the author, "Too many of our  
          children [in foster care] wind up being moved from home to home,  
          from school to school.  Too many are never returned to their  
          original families or adopted into new ones, are never connected  
          with adults who stick with them and guide them, and are never  
          provided with the developmental, emotional and social benefits  
          that are best achieved through permanency.  And then, when they  
          reach the age of 18 or 21 they age-out of care to face life  
          without the safety net of a permanent family.  Within two years,  
          50% are homeless, victimized, incarcerated or dead.


          Model programs in California and throughout the nation have  
          demonstrated repeatedly that our children do not need to  
          languish in foster care.  Although California led the nation in  
          developing effective child-centered specialized permanency  
          services  they are rarely used by our counties  resulting in  
          unnecessarily high child welfare costs and unnecessarily-poor  
          adult outcomes for so many of our youth.


          We know how to find them permanent families, and we know that  
          after a start-up period the services pay for themselves.  This  
          bill creates a statutory definition of child-centered  
          specialized permanency services designed to address the child's  
          history of separation and loss, and requires that these services  
          be provided to children whose reunification services have been  
          terminated, are not placed with a fit and willing relative, and  
          are considered unlikely to achieve a permanent family.  It also  
          requires that the services be included in the statutory  
          requirements to provide intensive and ongoing efforts to place  
          long-term foster care youth age 16 and above into a permanent  
          family.  There is no question that this bill will result in more  
          of our children achieving the permanent families they need and  
          deserve.








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          Because these children come into adoptive families with tragic  
          histories of trauma, separation and loss, their new parents  
          often need to seek the help of mental health providers who  
          understand the specialized clinical issues associated with  
          adoption and other forms of permanency.  Clinical services  
          provided by mental health providers without specialized training  
          and experience in adoption/permanency clinical issues has been  
          shown to often do more harm than good putting the children at  
          risk for disruption of the adoption? one more preventable loss  
          in a litany of losses they have incurred.  [This bill] requires  
          that potential adoptive parents and guardians be informed of the  
          importance of working with mental health providers with the  
          necessary specialized training and experience."


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

          PRIOR LEGISLATION: 

          SB 794 (Senate Committee on Human Services), Chapter 425,  
          Statutes of 2015, adopted a number of changes to conform with  
          the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act  
          (Public Law 113-183), adopted in 2014.



          REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION:




          Support


          Alliance for Children's Rights 








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          Alternative Family Services


          Aspiranet


          Bienvenidos Children's Center


          California Alliance 


          California CASA Association


          California Youth Connection


          Children Now 


          Children's Advocacy Institute


          Children's Law Center


          David and Margaret Youth and Family Services


          Families For Children


          Families NOW - sponsor 


          John Burton Foundation








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          John Burton Foundation


          Kinship Center


          Lilliput Children's Services


          North Star Family Center


          Nuevo Amanecer Latino Children's Services


          Youth Homes





          Opposition





          None on file.




          Analysis Prepared by:Daphne Hunt / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089












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