BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                    AB 1879

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          Date of Hearing:  May 11, 2016


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair

          1879 (McCarty) - As Amended April 13, 2016

          |Policy       |Human Services                 |Vote:|6 - 0        |
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          |             |Judiciary                      |     |10 - 0       |
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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   

          SUMMARY:  This bill requires that child-centered specialized  
          permanency services be provided to specified foster youth in  
          order to facilitate the placement of these youth with permanent  
          families. Specifically, this bill: 

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


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          2)Permits a court 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.

          3)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.

          4)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, must,  
            as needed to achieve a permanent family, include  
            child-centered specialized permanency services.

          5)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  

          FISCAL EFFECT:

          1)Unknown significant annual costs, likely in the $20 million  
            range (GF*), to arrange and provide additional services. The  
            exact cost is not known because some services are required  
            while others must be ordered by the court as needed.  This  
            bill applies to approximately 38,000 youth. Estimates indicate  
            it will take approximately seven hours of social worker time  
            annually per case to arrange services and to provide the  


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            administrative related services.  

          2)Unknown significant annual costs, likely in the tens of  
            millions of dollars (Fed/GF), to provide the counseling,  
            therapeutic, mental health and other medical type services.  
            These costs could be partially offset to the extent that these  
            services are provided under current law for youth who are  
            assessed as needing them.

          3)Unknown, but likely significant annual costs in the hundreds  
            of thousands of dollars (GF*) for county probation departments  
            to provide additional services to youth under their  
            jurisdiction. Estimates indicate it will take approximately  
            eight hours of probation staff time per case for youth in  
            "another planned permanent living arrangement" or APPLA.

          *Pursuant to Proposition 30 (November 2012) any legislation  
          enacted after September 30, 2012, that has an overall effect of  
          increasing the costs already borne by a local agency for  
          programs or levels of service mandated by realignment (including  
          child welfare services and foster care) only apply to local  
          agencies to the extent that the state provides annual funding  
          for the cost increase. 


          1)Purpose. According to the author, within two years of leaving  
            the foster care system, 50% of foster youth who age out of the  
            system are homeless, victimized, incarcerated or dead.  Even  
            with extended foster care until 21, the odds are stacked  
            against children who remain in the foster care system for  
            years and then age out without a strong connection to a  
            loving, supportive family.


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            This bill seeks to improve the outcomes for foster youth by  
            requiring that child-centered specialized permanency services  
            be provided for children at risk of long-term foster care and  
            requiring that potential adoptive families and guardians be  
            provided with information to support their hopefully long-term  
            relationship with the foster child.  

          2)Background. Of the 66,000 children living in foster care in  
            California, nearly 40% have been in care for over two years,  
            25% have been in care for over three years and almost 15% have  
            been in care for over five years.  The outcomes for children  
            in long-term foster care or APPLA who end up emancipating from  
            foster care without the support of a loving family are  
            notoriously poor.  

            Currently youth are provided with services to assist with  
            permanency, including being assessed for mental health  
            services - which may or may not be provided based upon the  
            assessment.  These services include:  case planning and case  
            management services, crisis intervention, general counseling,  
            therapeutic day treatment services, psychiatric/psychological  
            evaluation, aftercare, therapeutic milieu, counseling, mental  
            health assessment, California Children's Services, family  
            preservation services, concurrent planning, arranging ADA  
            services, family engagement, outreach with the family, family  
            case conferencing, community outreach assistance, and  
            requesting a psychological education assessment.  These  
            services are chosen and outlined in the case plan based on the  
            assessed needs of the child/youth. 


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            This bill requires certain services and allows the court to  
            order any service they deem to be a child-centered specialized  
            permanency service - regardless of the social worker  
            determinations or assessed need of the child.

          3)Continuing Efforts.  Recent state and federal legislation has  
            sought to improve the lives of children who might otherwise  
            spent their youth in foster care, often in groups homes, and  
            emancipate without any connection to a supportive adult:

             a)   The 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking, and  
               Strengthening Families Act made numerous changes to the  
               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 in order to help protect youth and provide them  
               with permanent families.  

             b)   Conforming state legislation (SB 794 (Senate Committee  
               on Human Services), Chap. 425, Stats. 2015), eliminated the  
               option of long-term foster care placement or APPLA for  
               dependent children under the age of 16, and required  
               permanency review hearing documents for children who are 16  
               years of age or older and in an APPLA 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.  


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             c)   AB 403 (Stone), Chap. 773, Stats. 2015, established a  
               comprehensive reform effort by transitioning children away  
               from congregate care into home-based family care with  
               resource families.  AB 403 also established targeted  
               training and support that can better prepare families to  
               help care for foster youth. 

            This bill seeks to build on the federal and state legislative  
            advances and help foster youth who might otherwise emancipate  
            from foster care without family and without support by making  
            every effort to find permanent families for these youth and,  
            once that family is found, to help make that relationship more  
            stable and more successful.  


          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Swenson / APPR. / (916)