BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  1





          SENATE THIRD READING


          SB  
          524 (Lara)


          As Amended  August 4, 2016


          Majority vote


          SENATE VOTE:  35-1


           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                   |Noes                 |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
          |----------------+-----+-----------------------+---------------------|
          |Human Services  |7-0  |Chu, Mayes, Calderon,  |                     |
          |                |     |Lopez, Maienschein,    |                     |
          |                |     |Mark Stone, Thurmond   |                     |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
          |----------------+-----+-----------------------+---------------------|
          |Appropriations  |16-0 |Gomez, Bigelow, Bloom, |                     |
          |                |     |Bonta, Calderon,       |                     |
          |                |     |Chang, Nazarian,       |                     |
          |                |     |Eggman, Eduardo        |                     |
          |                |     |Garcia, Holden, Jones, |                     |
          |                |     |Quirk, Rendon, Wagner, |                     |
          |                |     |Weber, Wood            |                     |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
          |                |     |                       |                     |
           -------------------------------------------------------------------- 










                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  2





          SUMMARY:  Establishes two new types of community care facilities  
          - private alternative boarding schools and private alternative  
          outdoor programs - and provides for their licensure and  
          regulation.  Specifically, this bill:  


          1)Makes Legislative findings and declarations related to  
            nontraditional treatment programs for children, including that  
            such facilities:  receive numerous allegations of abuse,  
            including death; currently operate unlicensed in California;  
            advertise services for youth who may feel they have no other  
            options; and have students who may have been previous victims  
            of trauma, experienced parental rejection based on actual or  
            perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and have  
            mental health and substance use issues.  Further, states the  
            intent of the Legislature that the state license private  
            alternative boarding schools and private alternative outdoor  
            programs as community care facilities to ensure the safety of  
            children admitted to those schools or programs.


          2)Defines "private alternative boarding school" to mean a group  
            home licensed by the Department of Social Services (DSS) to  
            operate a program to provide youth with 24-hour residential  
            care and supervision that provides, or holds itself out as  
            providing, behavioral-based services to youth with social,  
            emotional, or behavioral issues in addition to educational  
            services, as specified.


          3)Defines "private alternative outdoor program" to mean a group  
            home licensed by DSS to operate a program to provide youth  
            with 24-hour residential care and supervision that provides,  
            or holds itself out as providing, behavioral-based services in  
            an outdoor living setting to youth with social, emotional, or  
            behavioral issues, as specified.


          4)Defines "youth" to mean a person who is between the ages of 12  








                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  3





            and 17, or a person who is 18 years of age if he/she is  
            completing high school or its equivalent.


          5)Requires DSS to, as of January 1, 2018, license private  
            alternative boarding schools as group homes, as specified.


          6)Requires DSS to, as of January 1, 2019, license private  
            alternative outdoor programs as groups homes, as specified.


          7)Requires licensed private alternative boarding schools and  
            licensed private alternative outdoor programs to do all of the  
            following:


             a)   Be owned or operated on a nonprofit basis, as specified;


             b)   Prepare and maintain a current, written plan of  
               operation, as defined by DSS;


             c)   Offer 24-hour, nonmedical care and supervision to youth  
               who voluntarily consent to admission and who are  
               voluntarily admitted by his/her parent or legal guardian;


             d)   Not admit a child under 12 years of age or a child who  
               has been assessed by a licensed mental health professional  
               to be seriously emotionally disturbed, except as specified;


             e)   Provide each prospective youth and his/her parent or  
               legal guardian with specified written information regarding  
               the programs and services offered;










                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  4





             f)   Ensure that all individuals providing behavioral-based  
               services are licensed or certified, as specified;


             g)   Not use secure containment or manual or mechanical  
               restraints; and


             h)   Ensure that any mental health services offered are  
               provided by a licensed mental health provider and that any  
               alcohol or substance abuse treatment advertised are  
               provided by a licensed or certified alcoholism or drug  
               abuse recovery or treatment facility.


          8)Requires licensed private alternative outdoor programs to have  
            a ratio of one staff person to every four youths.


          9)Requires a licensed private alternative boarding school to  
            submit a staff training plan to DSS as part of its plan of  
            operation and requires this plan to include training on  
            specified topics, such as the physical and psychosocial needs  
            of youth, in addition to training already required of group  
            home staff.


          10)Requires a licensed private alternative outdoor program to  
            submit a staff training plan to DSS as part of its plan of  
            operation and requires this plan to include training on  
            specified topics in addition to training already required of  
            group home staff, including by not limited to training on  
            low-impact camping, navigation skills, and related.  Further,  
            requires a staff member of a licensed private alternative  
            outdoor program who supervises youth to receive an additional  
            number of hours of initial and annual training hours, as  
            specified.










                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  5





          11)Delineates rights to be accorded a youth, alongside any other  
            rights adopted by DSS in regulations, admitted to a licensed  
            private alternative boarding school or licensed private  
            alternative outdoor program, as specified and including by not  
            limited to the right to be able to contact his/her parent(s)  
            or legal guardian(s) and to be free from acts that seek to  
            change his/her sexual orientation, as specified.  


          12)Prohibits licensed private alternative boarding schools and  
            licensed private alternative outdoor programs from being  
            eligible child welfare system placements, as specified, and  
            from receiving group home foster care reimbursement rates.


          13)Excludes certain facilities, including but not limited to  
            those operated, licensed, or certified by the Department of  
            Corrections and Rehabilitation and its Division of Juvenile  
            Justice, the California Conservation Corps, or the Military  
            Department, from licensure as private alternative boarding  
            schools or private alternative outdoor programs, as specified.


          14)Requires DSS to develop regulations, as specified, for  
            private alternative boarding schools by January 1, 2018, and  
            for private alternative outdoor programs by January 1, 2019,  
            and further permits DSS to adopt emergency regulations, as  
            specified.


          15)Requires a private alternative boarding school operating  
            prior to January 1, 2018, to comply with licensing  
            requirements by July 1, 2018, and requires a private  
            alternative outdoor program operating prior to January 1,  
            2019, to comply with licensing requirements by July 1, 2019.


          16)Requires individuals who are volunteer candidates for  
            mentoring children in private alternative boarding schools or  








                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  6





            in private alternative outdoor programs to be subject to a  
            criminal background investigation, as specified, prior to  
            having unsupervised contact with the children.


          17)Requires DSS to charge additional fees it establishes by  
            regulation as necessary to regulate licenses for private  
            alternative boarding schools and private alternative outdoor  
            programs.


          18)Exempts private alternative boarding schools and private  
            alternative outdoor programs from existing requirements  
            regarding the collection, review, and evaluation of data and  
            information on the administration of psychotropic medications  
            in group homes, as specified.


          19)Makes conforming technical changes.


          EXISTING LAW:   


          1)Establishes the California Community Care Facilities Act to  
            provide for the licensure and regulation of community care  
            facilities.  (Health and Safety Code (HSC) Section 1500 et  
            seq.)


          2)Defines "community care facility" to mean any facility, place,  
            or building that is maintained and operated to provide  
            nonmedical residential care, day treatment, adult day care, or  
            foster family agency services for children, adults, or  
            children and adults, including, but not limited to,  
            individuals with physical disabilities or mental impairments  
            and abused or neglected children.  Includes within this  
            definition, among a number of other facilities:  group homes,  
            foster family homes, small family homes, full-service adoption  








                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  7





            agencies, noncustodial adoption agencies, and transitional  
            shelters.  (HSC Section 1502)


          3)Requires community care facilities operating in California, as  
            specified, to have a valid license.  (HSC Section 1503.5)


          FISCAL EFFECT:  Unknown.


          COMMENTS:  


          Residential facilities for youth with emotional and behavioral  
          challenges:  In 2008, the United States General Accountability  
          Office (GAO) released a report entitled, "Residential  
          Facilities: Improved Data and Enhanced Oversight Would Help  
          Safeguard the Well-Being of Youth with Behavioral and Emotional  
          Challenges."  This report described the proliferation since the  
          1990s of residential facilities serving youth with behavioral  
          and emotional challenges.  These facilities include boarding  
          schools and academies, boot camps, and wilderness camps.  Some  
          such facilities have spawned reports of health and safety risks  
          for the youth who attend them.  According to the GAO report,  
          "annual investigations by the Civil Rights Division within the  
          Department of Justice, have detailed incidents of abuse and  
          neglect, which in some cases have been severe enough to result  
          in hospitalization or death."


          Regarding the licensure and regulation of these types of  
          facilities, the 2008 GAO report observed that:

            States are primarily responsible for ensuring the  
            well-being of youth in facilities and other settings, and  
            states vary in how they license and monitor facilities in  
            accordance with individual state standards of care.  In  
            addition, in return for receiving funds under various  








                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  8





            federal grant programs, state agencies agree to comply  
            with federal program requirements, including those  
            related to youth well-being.  These programs generally  
            fall under the purview of three federal agencies:  The  
            Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides  
            funds to states for child welfare, mental health, and  
            substance abuse; the Department of Justice (DOJ), for  
            serving delinquent youth; and the Department of Education  
            (Education), for educating youth.  These agencies have  
            authority to hold states accountable for state-operated  
            or private facilities that serve youth under federally  
            funded state programs.  However, the federal government  
            does not have oversight authority for other private  
            facilities that serve only youth placed and funded by  
            parents or other private entities.

          Nonetheless, the federal government has taken note of these  
          types of facilities and the potentially associated problems.   
          The existence of a GAO report on the issue is a testament to  
          this, as were bills introduced in Congress.  While it ultimately  
          didn't pass, the "Stop Child Abuse in Residential Programs for  
          Teens Act" was introduced in 2013 (H.R. 1981) and 2014 (S.  
          2054). This Act would have required certain standards and  
          enforcement provisions for the prevention of child abuse and  
          neglect in residential programs.

          Need for this bill:  According to the author:

            Tragically, many young people have experienced horrendous  
            abuse, neglect, and even death at unregulated boot camps,  
            wilderness camps, and residential institutions.   
            Survivors report being denied medical care, corporal  
            punishment, solitary confinement, discrimination due to  
            sexual orientation.  Often parents and guardians have no  
            idea that the facility they are sending their child to is  
            not held to any standards and does not have any  
            oversight.

            The current lack of oversight and regulations over these  








                                                                     SB 524


                                                                    Page  9





            private institutions has opened up California's most  
            vulnerable youth to abuse.  While private institutions  
            should retain the right to offer the unique programs they  
            specialize in, all children regardless of where they are  
            should have their essential health and safety needs met.



          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Daphne Hunt / HUM. S. / (916) 319-2089  FN:  
          0003819