BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                    SB 1060  


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          Date of Hearing:  August 3, 2016


                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS


                               Lorena Gonzalez, Chair


          SB 1060  
          (Leno) - As Amended August 1, 2016


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          |Policy       |Judiciary                      |Vote:|9 - 0        |
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          |             |Human Services                 |     |7 - 0        |
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          Urgency:  No  State Mandated Local Program:  YesReimbursable:   
          No


          SUMMARY:  This bill requires the court, when considering an  
          adoption petition, to inquire about development of a voluntary  
          postadoption sibling contact agreement, and requires the county  
          placing agency, when parental rights are terminated and the  
          court orders a child be placed for adoption, to the extent  
          practicable, to convene a meeting for the purpose of determining  
          whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact  
          agreement, as specified. Specifically, this bill:  










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          1)Adds direct reference to siblings in a number of provisions  
            related to postadoption contact between an adoptive child and  
            his or her birth relatives.



          2)Requires the court, at the time of the first review hearing,  
            to inquire into the status of the development of a voluntary  
            postadoption sibling contact agreement, as specified.



          3)Requires the court order for the permanent placement of a ward  
            of the court, as specified, to include specification of the  
            nature and frequency of visiting arrangements with any  
            siblings.



          4)Requires, when parental rights are terminated and the court  
            orders a dependent child or ward to be placed for adoption,  
            the county placing agency to convene a meeting with the child,  
            sibling(s) of the child, prospective adoptive parent(s), and a  
            facilitator for the purpose of determining whether to  
            voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement.   




          5)States that the county placing agency is not required to  
            convene a meeting to determine whether to voluntarily execute  
            a postadoption sibling contact agreement if it determines that  
            such a meeting or agreement would be contrary to the safety  
            and well-being of the child, or the child requests that a  
            meeting not occur.



          6)Permits a child to petition the court for an order requiring  








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            the county placing agency to convene a meeting regarding a  
            postadoption sibling contact agreement, and further states  
            that if the court determines by a preponderance of the  
            evidence, such a meeting or agreement is contrary to the  
            safety and well-being of the child, the reasons for that  
            determination must be noted in the court order, and the  
            meeting is not required to occur.
          FISCAL EFFECT:


          1)Potentially significant state costs (GF*) for additional  
            meetings to the extent the meetings consist of child and  
            family team (CFT) members.  Estimated costs assuming only 50%  
            of the 6,400 annual dependent adoptions require a CFT meeting  
            could cost in the range of $850,000 to over $1.7 million  
            annually based on the average duration of 3.7 hours per CFT  
            meeting and the attendance of one or two local agency  
            representatives.  These costs do not include any additional  
            time CFT members may incur to identify and notify  
            non-dependent siblings to coordinate these meetings.  Actual  
            costs could be substantially higher to the extent the  
            proportion of dependents with siblings is higher than assumed  
            above, or more than two CFT members representing local  
            agencies are in attendance at the meeting.  





          2)Unknown, but potentially significant state costs (GF*) for  
            local agencies to facilitate additional sibling visits for  
            dependent siblings of adopted minors resulting from  
            postadoptive sibling contact agreements.  Annual costs would  
            be dependent on the number of adopted children with dependent  
            siblings for which postadoptive sibling contact agreements  
            will be ordered, the frequency of visits provided for in the  
            agreements, and the time involved for the social worker to  
            provide for this sibling visitation in each case (distance and  
            duration), among other factors. 








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          3)Minor workload impact and potentially future cost savings to  
            the extent the CFT meetings result in less time spent during  
            the court hearing on sibling visitation issues.



          Proposition 30*:  Exempts the State from mandate reimbursement  
          for realigned responsibilities for "public safety services"  
          including the provision of child welfare services. However,  
          legislation enacted after September 30, 2012, that has an  
          overall effect of increasing the costs already borne by a local  
          agency for public safety services apply to local agencies only  
          to the extent that the State provides annual funding for the  
          cost increase.  The provisions of Proposition 30 have not been  
          interpreted through the formal court process to date, however,  
          to the extent the local agency costs resulting from this measure  
          are determined to be applicable under the provisions of  
          Proposition 30 could result in additional costs to the State.





          COMMENTS:


          1)Purpose.  According to the author, "For an adoption to  
            establish a lasting commitment between the child and adopting  
            parents, elements of healing and support are essential.   
            Research confirms that sustaining relationships with the  
            biological family, especially siblings, is effective in  
            overcoming any negative effects of being removed from one's  
            family and placed into foster care.  This bill will maintain  
            sibling relationships through the adoption process by  
            elevating the function of the post adoption contact agreement  
            between siblings and prospective adoptive children prior to  








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            adoption finalization." 



          2)Background. In 2008, Congress passed the Fostering Connections  
            to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act (Act), which, among  
            other things, made it a priority that siblings entering the  
            foster care system be placed together by requiring states to  
            use "reasonable efforts" to place siblings together, unless  
            such placement is contrary to their safety or well-being.  If  
            the siblings are not placed together, the Act requires that  
            visitation between them must occur frequently, unless the  
            visitation is contrary to their safety or well-being.  
            Prior to passage of the Act, California was one of the first  
            states to pass legislation promoting sibling visitation for  
            foster children as early as 1999.  (See AB 740 (Steinberg),  
            Chap. 805, Stats. 1999.)  Since then, California has enacted  
            several additional statutes to expand legal protections for  
            sibling relationships. 


            State law recognizes the benefits often derived from adoptive  
            children having either direct or indirect contact with birth  
            relatives after being adopted, and provides for the  
            development of postadoption contact agreements.  These  
            agreements are intended to establish ongoing contact between a  
            child who has been adopted and his or her birth relatives;  
            they are voluntarily entered into by birth relatives and  
            adoptive parents.  The purview of these agreements is limited  
            to, but does not need to include, provisions for visitation,  
            future contact, and sharing of information about the child in  
            the future.


            California state law requires a social worker, to the extent  
            that it is practical and appropriate, to place a minor  
            together with any siblings or half-siblings who are also  
            detained or include in the case report a statement of his or  
            her continuing efforts to place the siblings together or why  








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            those efforts are not appropriate.  

          3)Related Legislation. AB 1997 (Stone), 2016, pending in the  
            Senate Appropriations Committee, adopts changes to further  
            facilitate implementation of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR)  
            recommendations to better serve children and youth in  
            California's child welfare services system.  


          4)Prior Legislation. 


             a)   AB 403 (Stone), Chapter 773, Statutes of 2015,  
               implemented CCR recommendations to better serve children  
               and youth in California's child welfare services system.


             b)   SB 1099 (Steinberg), Chapter 773, Statutes of 2014,  
               encouraged visitation with siblings for children in the  
               dependency and juvenile justice systems.


             c)   AB 743 (Portantino), Chapter 560, Statutes of 2010, made  
               changes to the standards for sibling visitation,  
               interaction, and placement for children who are placed  
               out-of-home, in foster care, or adoption, to conform with  
               language in the federal Fostering Connections Act.


             d)   AB 705 (Steinberg), Chapter 747, Statutes of 2001,  
               ensured that sibling relationships are considered at all  
               appropriate hearings and siblings are placed together when  
               appropriate.


             e)   AB 1987 (Steinberg), Chapter 909, Statutes of 2000,  
               required the juvenile court to consider the existence and  
               nature of sibling relationships in all placement,  
               visitation and permanency hearings.








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          Analysis Prepared by:Jennifer Swenson / APPR. / (916)  
          319-2081