BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



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          SENATE THIRD READING


          SB  
          1060 (Leno)


          As Amended  August 1, 2016


          Majority vote


          SENATE VOTE:  31-7


           ------------------------------------------------------------------ 
          |Committee       |Votes|Ayes                  |Noes                |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Judiciary       |9-0  |Mark Stone, Wagner,   |                    |
          |                |     |Alejo, Chau, Chiu,    |                    |
          |                |     |Gallagher, Holden,    |                    |
          |                |     |Maienschein, Ting     |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Human Services  |7-0  |Bonilla, Grove,       |                    |
          |                |     |Arambula, Lopez,      |                    |
          |                |     |Maienschein,          |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |Mark Stone, Thurmond  |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |----------------+-----+----------------------+--------------------|
          |Appropriations  |20-0 |Gonzalez, Bigelow,    |                    |
          |                |     |Bloom, Bonilla,       |                    |
          |                |     |Bonta, Calderon,      |                    |








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          |                |     |Chang, Daly, Eggman,  |                    |
          |                |     |Gallagher, Eduardo    |                    |
          |                |     |Garcia, Holden,       |                    |
          |                |     |Jones, Obernolte,     |                    |
          |                |     |Quirk, Santiago,      |                    |
          |                |     |Wagner, Weber, Wood,  |                    |
          |                |     |McCarty               |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
          |                |     |                      |                    |
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          SUMMARY:  Requires a court, in an adoption proceeding for a  
          dependent child to inquire into the status of the development of  
          a voluntary postadoptive sibling contact agreement before the  
          adoption is finalized.  Specifically, this bill: 


           1) Makes legislative findings and declarations regarding the  
             benefit of continuing contact between some adoptive children  
             and their siblings and the importance of postadoption contact  
             agreements, which can be beneficial to adoptive children  
             under certain circumstances.
           2) States that nothing in the adoption laws of this state shall  
             be construed to prevent the adopting parent or parents of a  
             child from entering into a voluntary agreement with the  
             child's birth relatives, including any siblings of the child,  
             to permit continuing contact between the child and the birth  
             relatives, including any siblings if the agreement is found  
             by the court to have been executed voluntarily and to be in  
             the best interests of the child at the time the adoption  
             petition is granted.


           3) Requires that any court order permanently placing the minor  
             shall include a specification of the nature and frequency of  
             visiting arrangements with the sibling. 










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           4) Requires a court, at its first review conducted for a child  
             for whom the court has ordered parental rights terminated and  
             who has been ordered placed for adoption, to inquire into the  
             status of the development of a voluntary postadoption sibling  
             contact agreement.


           5) Requires, to the extent practicable, the county placing  
             agency to convene a meeting with the child, the sibling or  
             siblings of the child, the prospective adoptive parent or  
             parents, and a facilitator for the purpose of deciding  
             whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact  
             agreement on a date after termination of parental rights and  
             prior to finalization of the adoption.  


           6) Allows the agency to comply with the requirement in 5)  
             above, by allowing a nonprofit organization authorized to  
             provide permanency placement and postadoption mediation for  
             adoptive and birth families to facilitate the meeting and  
             develop the agreement.


           7) Provides that the county placing agency is not required to  
             convene a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a  
             postadoption sibling contact agreement in one of the  
             following two circumstances:  a) If the agency determines  
             that such a meeting or postadoption sibling contact agreement  
             would be contrary to the safety and well-being of the child,  
             or b) The child requests that a meeting does not occur.


           8) Allows the child to petition the court for an order  
             requiring the county placing agency to convene a meeting and  
             provides that if the court determines by a preponderence of  
             the evidence that a postadoption sibling contact agreement or  
             a meeting for the purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily  
             execute such an agreement is contrary to the safety and  
             well-being of the child, the reasons for the determination  








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             shall be noted in the court order, and the meeting is not  
             required to occur.


           9) Clarifies that no child, sibling, or other party is required  
             to attend a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute  
             a postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to Family  
             Code Section 8616.5 and that a county placing agency may  
             convene a meeting if not all of the parties are secured to  
             attend.


           10)Requires counsel to the child and counsel to the siblings  
             who are dependents of the court to be notified of, and may  
             attend, both the meeting and the hearing described above.


           11)Clarifies that after the adoption petition has been granted  
             by the court, the adoption cannot be set aside due to the  
             failure to comply with a postadoption sibling contact  
             agreement.




          FISCAL EFFECT:  According to the Assembly Appropriations  
          Committee:


          1)Minor state costs (General Fund* (GF)) for potential  
            additional meetings to determine whether to execute  
            postadoption sibling contact agreements.  


          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  








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            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. 


          3)Minor workload impact and potentially future cost savings to  
            the extent the child and family team (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:  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  








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          states to pass legislation promoting sibling visitation for  
          foster children as early as 1999.  (See AB 740 (Steinberg),  
          Chapter 805, Statutes of 1999.)  Since then California has  
          enacted several additional statutes to expand legal protections  
          for sibling relationships.  These laws have served to promote  
          sibling relationships when both children are in the dependency  
          system, but recent, unpublished cases indicate that courts will  
          not grant visitation in the rare case where one sibling is in  
          the foster system and the other remains in the legal custody of  
          the parent.   


          California Law has Long Recognized the Importance of Maintaining  
          Sibling Relationships, but California's Foster Care System  
          Continues to Separate Siblings in Too Many Cases.  California  
          law has repeatedly recognized the importance of maintaining and  
          developing sibling relationships for children in foster care.   
          Key legislation in this area includes AB 743 (Portantino),  
          Chapter 560, Statutes of 2010, which required greater notice if  
          siblings are to be separated; AB 705 (Steinberg), Chapter 747,  
          Statutes of 2001, which ensured that sibling relationships are  
          considered at all appropriate hearings and siblings are placed  
          together when appropriate; AB 1987 (Steinberg), Chapter 909,  
          Statutes of 2000, which recognized the importance of sibling  
          relationships and required the court to consider the existence,  
          nature and impact of a dependent child's sibling relationships  
          on the child's placement and planning for legal permanence; and  
          AB 740 (Steinberg), Chapter 805, Statutes of 1999, which  
          expedited the procedure for permanent placement of a sibling  
          group.    


          Nevertheless, recent data reveal that children in foster care  
          are often not placed with all their siblings.  Foster children  
          in California are placed together with all their siblings in  
          only slightly over half of all cases.  Slightly older data  
          reveal that in only about 29% of cases, foster youth have been  
          separated from all of their siblings.  (Legislative Analyst's  
          Office, Protecting Children From Abuse and Neglect:  Trends and  








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          Issues 29 (Aug. 2013); B. Needell et al., Child Welfare Services  
          Reports for California (2008).)


          This Bill Seeks to Further Ensure that Courts Protect a Foster  
          Child's Relationship With His or Her Siblings, Including After  
          the Child is Adopted.  When siblings are not or cannot be placed  
          together, existing law requires visitation between a foster  
          child and any siblings, unless the court finds by clear and  
          convincing evidence that sibling interaction is contrary to the  
          safety and well-being of either child.  Finally, existing law  
          allows a court to include in a final adoption order a  
          postadoptive sibling contact agreement.  


          This bill requires a county placing agency, to the extent  
          practicable, to convene a meeting with the child, the sibling or  
          siblings of the child, the prospective adoptive parent or  
          parents, and a facilitator for the purpose of deciding whether  
          to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact agreement  
          on a date after termination of parental rights and prior to  
          finalization of the adoption.  Recent amendments also do the  
          following:


          1)Specify that any hearing must take place at the first review  
            conducted for a child for whom the court has ordered parental  
            rights terminated and who has been ordered placed for  
            adoption. 
          2)Allow the county placing agency to delegate the responsibility  
            for convening a meeting to a nonprofit organization authorized  
            to provide permanency placement and postadoption mediation for  
            adoptive and birth families to facilitate the meeting and  
            develop the agreement.


          3)Specify that the county placing agency is not required to  
            convene a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a  
            postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to Family Code  








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            Section 8616.5 for two specific reasons:  a) The county  
            placing agency determines that a meeting or a postadoption  
            sibling contact agreement would be contrary to the safety and  
            well-being of the child, or b) The child requests that a  
            meeting does not occur.


          4)Allow the child to petition the court for an order requiring  
            the county placing agency to convene a meeting to decide  
            whether to voluntarily execute a postadoption sibling contact  
            agreement pursuant to Family Code Section 8616.5.


          5)Require counsel to the child and counsel to the siblings who  
            are dependents of the court to be notified of, and allows them  
            to attend, both the meeting and the hearing.


          6)Provide that no child, sibling, or other party is required to  
            attend a meeting to decide whether to voluntarily execute a  
            postadoption sibling contact agreement pursuant to Family Code  
            Section 8616.5.


          These new provisions will help ensure that sibling interaction  
          and contact, and the agreements to facilitate such  
          relationships, occur when appropriate.  By specifying the two  
          reasons why a county agency is not required to convene a  
          meeting, the bill as proposed to be amended implies that a  
          county placing agency is required to convene a meeting except in  
          the case of one or both of those circumstances.  This amendment  
          significantly furthers the purpose of this bill and ensures that  
          the mechanism to further that purpose, the meeting for the  
          purpose of deciding whether to voluntarily execute a  
          postadoption sibling contact agreement, is likely to occur in  
          appropriate circumstances (and not in circumstances where a  
          meeting would be inappropriate, such as when a child objects to  
          it).









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          Analysis Prepared by:                                             
                          Alison Merrilees / JUD. / (916) 319-2334  FN:  
          0003989