Today's Law As Amended


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AB-2001 Homeless youth: child welfare services.(2013-2014)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 It is the intent of the Legislature to provide a path for homeless youth to receive independent living skill and homeless services from homeless youth shelters and child welfare service agencies under the Title IV-E of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 671 et seq.) Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Project by establishing a pilot program for the purpose of developing and implementing alternative child welfare services that are directed toward the individual needs of homeless youth in order to reduce homelessness among children.

SEC. 2.

 Section 300 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

300.
 A Any  child who comes within any of the following descriptions is within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court which may adjudge that person to be a dependent child of the court:
(a) The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm inflicted nonaccidentally upon the child by the child’s parent or guardian. For the  purposes of this subdivision, a court may find there is a substantial risk of serious future injury based on the manner in which a less serious injury was inflicted, a history of repeated inflictions of injuries on the child or the child’s siblings, or a combination of these and other actions by the parent or guardian that which  indicate the child is at risk of serious physical harm. For purposes of this subdivision, “serious physical harm” does not include reasonable and age-appropriate spanking to the buttocks if where  there is no evidence of serious physical injury.
(b)  (1)  The child has suffered, or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer, serious physical harm or illness, as a result of the failure or inability of his or her parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child, or the willful or negligent failure of the child’s parent or guardian to adequately supervise or protect the child from the conduct of the custodian with whom the child has been left, or by the willful or negligent failure of the parent or guardian to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment, or by the inability of the parent or guardian to provide regular care for the child due to the parent’s or guardian’s mental illness, developmental disability, or substance abuse. A No  child shall not  be found to be a person described by this subdivision solely due to the lack of an emergency shelter for the family. A child who resides in a runaway and homeless youth shelter, as described in Section 1502.35 of the Health and Safety Code, may be found to be a person described by this subdivision if that finding is supported by other evidence of abuse or neglect.  Whenever it is alleged that a child comes within the jurisdiction of the court on the basis of the parent’s or guardian’s willful failure to provide adequate medical treatment or specific decision to provide spiritual treatment through prayer, the court shall give deference to the parent’s or guardian’s medical treatment, nontreatment, or spiritual treatment through prayer alone in accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious denomination, by an accredited practitioner thereof, and shall not assume jurisdiction unless necessary to protect the child from suffering serious physical harm or illness. In making its determination, the court shall consider (1) the nature of the treatment proposed by the parent or guardian, (2) the risks to the child posed by the course of treatment or nontreatment proposed by the parent or guardian, (3) the risk, if any, of the course of treatment being proposed by the petitioning agency, and (4) the likely success of the courses of treatment or nontreatment proposed by the parent or guardian and agency. The child shall continue to be a dependent child pursuant to this subdivision only so long as is necessary to protect the child from risk of suffering serious physical harm or illness.
(2) The Legislature finds and declares that a child who is sexually trafficked, as described in Section 236.1 of the Penal Code, or who receives food or shelter in exchange for, or who is paid to perform, sexual acts described in Section 236.1 or 11165.1 of the Penal Code, and whose parent or guardian failed to, or was unable to, protect the child, is within the description of this subdivision, and that this finding is declaratory of existing law. These children shall be known as commercially sexually exploited children.
(c) The child is suffering serious emotional damage, or is at substantial risk of suffering serious emotional damage, evidenced by severe anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or untoward aggressive behavior toward self or others, as a result of the conduct of the parent or guardian or who has no parent or guardian capable of providing appropriate care. A No  child shall not  be found to be a person described by this subdivision if the willful failure of the parent or guardian to provide adequate mental health treatment is based on a sincerely held religious belief and if a less intrusive judicial intervention is available.
(d) The child has been sexually abused, or there is a substantial risk that the child will be sexually abused, as defined in Section 11165.1 of the Penal Code, by his or her parent or guardian or a member of his or her household, or the parent or guardian has failed to adequately protect the child from sexual abuse when the parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of sexual abuse.
(e) The child is under the age of five years and has suffered severe physical abuse by a parent, or by any person known by the parent, if the parent knew or reasonably should have known that the person was physically abusing the child. For the purposes of this subdivision, “severe physical abuse” means any of the following: any single act of abuse which causes physical trauma of sufficient severity that, if left untreated, would cause permanent physical disfigurement, permanent physical disability, or death; any single act of sexual abuse which causes significant bleeding, deep bruising, or significant external or internal swelling; or more than one act of physical abuse, each of which causes bleeding, deep bruising, significant external or internal swelling, bone fracture, or unconsciousness; or the willful, prolonged failure to provide adequate food. A child shall may  not be removed from the physical custody of his or her parent or guardian on the basis of a finding of severe physical abuse unless the social worker has made an allegation of severe physical abuse pursuant to Section 332.
(f) The child’s parent or guardian caused the death of another child through abuse or neglect.
(g) The child has been left without any provision for support; physical custody of the child has been voluntarily surrendered pursuant to Section 1255.7 of the Health and Safety Code and the child has not been reclaimed within the 14-day period specified in subdivision (g) (e)  of that section; the child’s parent has been incarcerated or institutionalized and cannot arrange for the care of the child; or a relative or other adult custodian with whom the child resides or has been left is unwilling or unable to provide care or support for the child, the whereabouts of the parent are unknown, and reasonable efforts to locate the parent have been unsuccessful.
(h) The child has been freed for adoption by one or both parents for 12 months by either relinquishment or termination of parental rights or an adoption petition has not been granted.
(i) The child has been subjected to an act or acts of cruelty by the parent or guardian or a member of his or her household, or the parent or guardian has failed to adequately protect the child from an act or acts of cruelty when the parent or guardian knew or reasonably should have known that the child was in danger of being subjected to an act or acts of cruelty.
(j) The child’s sibling has been abused or neglected, as defined in subdivision (a), (b), (d), (e), or (i), and there is a substantial risk that the child will be abused or neglected, as defined in those subdivisions. The court shall consider the circumstances surrounding the abuse or neglect of the sibling, the age and gender of each child, the nature of the abuse or neglect of the sibling, the mental condition of the parent or guardian, and any other factors the court considers probative in determining whether there is a substantial risk to the child.
It is the intent of the Legislature that nothing in  this section not  disrupt the family unnecessarily or intrude inappropriately into family life, prohibit the use of reasonable methods of parental discipline, or prescribe a particular method of parenting. Further, nothing in  this section is not  intended to limit the offering of voluntary services to those families in need of assistance but who do not come within the descriptions of this section. To the extent that savings accrue to the state from child welfare services funding obtained as a result of the enactment of the act that enacted this section, those savings shall be used to promote services which support family maintenance and family reunification plans, such as client transportation, out-of-home respite care, parenting training, and the provision of temporary or emergency in-home caretakers and persons teaching and demonstrating homemaking skills. The Legislature further declares that a physical disability, such as blindness or deafness, is no bar to the raising of happy and well-adjusted children and that a court’s determination pursuant to this section shall center upon whether a parent’s disability prevents him or her from exercising care and control. The Legislature further declares that a child whose parent has been adjudged a dependent child of the court pursuant to this section shall not be considered to be at risk of abuse or neglect solely because of the age, dependent status, or foster care status of the parent.
As used in this section, “guardian” means the legal guardian of the child.

SEC. 3.

 Section 328 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

328.
 (a)  Whenever the social worker has cause to believe that there was or is within the county, or residing therein, a person described in Section 300, the social worker shall immediately make any investigation he or she deems necessary to determine whether child welfare services should be offered to the family and whether proceedings in the juvenile court should be commenced. If the social worker determines that it is appropriate to offer child welfare services to the family, the social worker shall make a referral to these services pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 16500) of Part 4 of Division 9. No inference regarding the credibility of the allegations or the need for child welfare services shall be drawn from the mere existence of a child custody or visitation dispute.
(b)  However, this section does not require an investigation by the social worker with respect to a child delivered or referred to any agency pursuant to Section 307.5.
(c)  The social worker shall interview any child four years of age or older who is a the  subject of an investigation, and who is in juvenile hall or other custodial facility, or has been removed to a foster home,  another custodial facility, a foster home, a runaway and homeless youth shelter as described in Section 1502.35 of the Health and Safety Code, or any other community care facility described in Section 1502 of the Health and Safety Code,  to ascertain the child’s view of the home environment. If proceedings are commenced, the social worker shall include the substance of the interview in any written report submitted at an adjudicatory hearing, or hearing or,  if no report is then received in evidence, the social worker shall include the substance of the interview in the social study required by Section 358. A referral based on allegations of child abuse from the family court pursuant to Section 3027 of the Family Code shall be investigated to the same extent as any other child abuse allegation.
(d) If the social worker employs team decisionmaking or a similar process to determine whether to commence juvenile court proceedings in a case involving a child who is 12 years of age or older, the process shall include the child, as well as individuals the child identifies as important to him or her.

SEC. 5.SEC. 4.

 Section 331 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

331.
 When any person has applied to the social worker, pursuant to Section 329, to commence juvenile court proceedings and the social worker fails to file a petition within three weeks after the application,  the timeframe set forth in Section 329,  the person may, within one month after making the application, apply to the juvenile court to review the decision of the social worker, and the court may shall  either affirm the decision of the social worker or order him or her to commence juvenile court proceedings. proceedings within five judicial days. 

SEC. 5.

 Section 16510 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

16510.
 (a) It is the intent of the Legislature to ensure that unaccompanied homeless youth are protected from harm and provided with effective, age-appropriate services that support healthy youth development.
(b) (1) The State Department of Social Services shall establish, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association, the Chief Probation Officers of California, the Judicial Council, homeless youth, child advocacy organizations, homeless youth advocacy organizations, dependency counsel for children, juvenile justice advocacy organizations, foster caregiver organizations, labor organizations, and individuals expert in the area of positive youth development, a working group to develop policy and practice recommendations regarding necessary changes to both policy and practice, to ensure that homeless, unaccompanied minors have timely, reliable access to appropriate placements and services through California’s child welfare system.
(2) In developing the recommendations, the working group shall consider all of the following questions:
(A) How do homeless, unaccompanied minors experience the child welfare system?
(B) What local practices have been effective in assisting homeless, unaccompanied minors within the child welfare system?
(C) What barriers prevent homeless, unaccompanied minors from accessing the child welfare system?
(D) What do homeless, unaccompanied youth want and need from the child welfare system?
(E) How can placements for homeless, unaccompanied youth incorporate positive youth development?
(F) How can the child welfare system make it easier for unaccompanied minors to self-initiate child welfare services or the commencement of juvenile court proceedings on the basis that he or she is a person described in Section 300?
(G) How do child welfare investigation timelines and juvenile court timelines affect unaccompanied minors who self-initiate child welfare services or the commencement of juvenile court proceedings on the basis that the minor is a person described in Section 300?
(c) The working group shall meet no later than April 1, 2015. The recommendations developed pursuant to this section shall be submitted in a report to the appropriate policy and fiscal committees of the Legislature on or before January 1, 2016.

SEC. 6.

 Section 18265 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, immediately following Section 18260, to read:

18265.
 (a) (1) For the purpose of developing targeted and specialized services for youth who are homeless, on or after July 1, 2015, one or more counties that participate in the federal Title IV-E waiver capped allocation demonstration project pursuant to Section 18260 may establish a pilot program, with the approval of the department, to develop and implement alternative child welfare services to meet the individual needs of homeless youth in order to reduce homelessness among children.
(2) Each pilot program established under subdivision (a) shall conclude no later than July 1, 2019.
(b) Each pilot program established under this section may include, but is not limited to, methods for the identification of homeless youth for purposes of temporary placement into a licensed homeless youth shelter pursuant to Section 1502.35 of the Health and Safety Code, or other appropriate placement as directed by the county’s child welfare services agency.
(1) It is the intent of the Legislature that local law enforcement agencies work with county and local child protective services agencies to identify the appropriate placement, including placement in a homeless youth shelter, for youth who come to the attention of law enforcement because they are homeless.
(2) Upon the placement or voluntary entry of a homeless youth into a homeless youth shelter, the shelter shall notify child welfare services if it is determined by, and upon the recommendation of, the shelter that the youth may be eligible to receive long-term intensive support services under the pilot program.
(c) A youth identified as homeless is eligible for participation in the pilot program if he or she meets all of the following criteria:
(1) The youth is 14 years of age or older and has been homeless for at least 21 consecutive days.
(2) The county child welfare agency determines, upon consultation with a local homeless youth shelter, if available, that long-term intensive support services are needed for the youth.
(3) The county child welfare agency finds that there is a reasonable presumption that the youth is a person described in Section 300, but determines, upon consultation with a local homeless youth shelter, if available, that the youth would be best served by the receipt of long-term intensive support services through the pilot program.
(d) To the extent permitted by federal law, and based on the terms and conditions of the federal Title IV-E waiver, each pilot program established pursuant to this section may provide long-term intensive support services to meet the needs of homeless youth, which shall include each of the following:
(1) Guidance to local law enforcement on when and how to refer homeless youth to a local homeless youth shelter or child protective services agency.
(2) (A) The temporary placement of a homeless youth in a homeless youth shelter or other age-appropriate placement for up to 45 days with an extension of 15 days per the approval of a county child welfare agency. Title IV-E funding shall not be used to fund the first 21 days the homeless youth is in a homeless youth shelter.
(B) If a youth is temporarily placed in a homeless youth shelter through the pilot program, the county child welfare agency shall provide justification for the placement, including whether there are no other appropriate residential placements available.
(3) Notwithstanding subdivision (c) of Section 18250, wraparound services, as defined in subdivision (d) of Section 18251 and as described in subdivision (b) of Section 18250.
(e) Upon temporary placement into a homeless youth shelter pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (d), the county child welfare agency shall do all of the following:
(1) Provide case management services, in coordination with local homeless youth shelters, which shall include permanent and stable housing, independent living skills as necessary, workforce training opportunities, health and mental health services, and educational opportunities, such as enrollment in the youth’s school district of residence as determined by the location of the youth’s placement.
(2) No later than the 30th day of placement, identify appropriate long-term housing placement opportunities and wraparound services for the youth, including, but not limited to, placement in a certified transitional housing plus program, placement with identified parents or relatives, as appropriate, foster family homes, or group homes with expertise in serving homeless or runaway children.
(3) Make a recommendation as to whether the youth should continue to receive long-term intensive support services under the pilot program or whether a petition should be filed to adjudicate the youth to be a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 360. If a determination is made that a petition should be filed, it shall be filed immediately and consistent with the requirements of subdivision (h).
(f) The department, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association of California and child welfare and homeless youth advocates, shall develop, no later than March 31, 2015, the following standards and criteria for the pilot program:
(1) To the extent permitted by federal law, and based on the terms and conditions of the federal Title IV-E waiver, each of the following:
(A) The parameters on how the Title IV-E funding may be used.
(B) How long the Title IV-E funding may be provided, as determined by outcome goals for the youth.
(2) The requirements on casework for the youth.
(3) Processes on how placements or related services may be identified for the youth, including whether family reunification should be pursued or whether the youth should be placed into the home of a relative or nonrelated extended family member, foster family home, or group home with experience in serving homeless or runaway children.
(4) The criteria by which a homeless youth is assessed pursuant to subdivision (c).
(g) Notwithstanding the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 11340) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code), the department may implement this section through an all-county letter or similar instructions from the director.
(h) (1) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the ability of a child protective services agency case worker or the county child welfare agency to file a petition with the juvenile court to declare a youth to be a dependent child of the court pursuant to Section 325 if the youth is a person described in Section 300.
(2) If it is determined that a petition should be filed to declare the youth to be a dependent child of the court, the county child welfare agency shall consult with a local homeless youth shelter or other entity with expertise in providing services to homeless youth in developing the petition. The county child welfare agency shall comply with federal and state privacy protections in the consultation and development of the petition. The petition shall include, but not be limited to, all of the following considerations:
(A) The reasons why the youth is homeless.
(B) Whether the youth received long-term intensive support services through the pilot program.
(C) When applicable, a description of the long-term intensive support services received through the pilot program.
(D) Recommendations as to whether those long-term intensive support services should be continued or modified.
(E) Whether additional placement considerations should be made that will meet the needs of the youth.
(i) The department shall conduct an evaluation of the pilot program established pursuant to this section to determine the effectiveness of the program in developing and implementing alternative child welfare services for homeless youth. The department, no later than January 1, 2019, shall submit to the Legislature the results of its evaluation of the pilot program, together with its recommendation as to whether the program should be continued or, to the extent permitted by federal law, made permanent. A report submitted to the Legislature pursuant to this subdivision shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(j) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2020, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2020, deletes or extends that date.
SEC. 7.
 If the Commission on State Mandates determines that this act contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement to local agencies and school districts for those costs shall be made pursuant to Part 7 (commencing with Section 17500) of Division 4 of Title 2 of the Government Code.