Today's Law As Amended

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AB-2061 Child welfare services: families experiencing homelessness.(2013-2014)



SECTION 1.
 The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(a) A correlation exists between family homelessness and foster care placement. Though homelessness alone is not a basis for removing a child from a home, almost one-half of children in foster care have birth parents with a history of homelessness. Foster children with homeless birth parents are less likely to live with relative caregivers than children of families with stable housing, and these children remain separated from their families for longer than children of families with stable housing.
(b) Homelessness and housing instability interfere with the reunification of children in foster care with birth families. As many as 30 percent of children in foster care who cannot be reunited with birth families could be reunited if the family were able to access a safe place to live.
(c) Like children of homeless families, children involved with a child welfare system experience elevated school dropout rates, learning difficulties, worsening mental health conditions, and high levels of aggravation.
(d) A study of child-welfare-involved families experiencing long-term homelessness with at least one parent with a substance use disorder showed supportive housing allowed the majority of families’ child welfare cases to be resolved by reuniting families within 10 months. The study showed supportive housing reduced actual and potential use of foster care services by an average of 187 days.
(e) Studies have shown that providing low-cost short- and medium-term housing and services interventions, known as “rapid rehousing services,” to families experiencing brief episodes of homelessness results in housing stability, with families becoming 4.7 times less likely to return to homelessness than shelter interventions.
(f) A child’s experience with foster care perpetuates a cycle of homelessness. Data shows that 25 percent of children placed in foster care become homeless within four years of aging out.
(g) Jurisdictions are using evidence-based strategies to implement federal demonstration waivers that grant states flexibility in the use of federal foster care payment funds. These waivers allow child welfare agencies to use alternative services and supports that promote safety, permanency, and well-being for children.
(h) It is the intent of the Legislature to promote the use of innovative, evidence-based models to assess the housing needs of families who are receiving child welfare services and who are experiencing homelessness, and to coordinate and access resources available for rapid rehousing, supportive housing, and services that promote housing stability, with the goals of preventing foster care placement and reuniting children in foster care with their birth parents.

SEC. 2.

 Section 18262 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

18262.
 The department shall encourage participating counties to consider the use of innovative, evidence-based strategies with the optional portion of their federal Title IV-E waiver capped allocation demonstration project pursuant to Section 18260 to assist families that include a child placed in foster care, who are receiving child welfare services, and who are experiencing homelessness to achieve the following:
(a) Supportive housing, including housing with no limit on length of stay, that is occupied by the target population, and that is linked to onsite or offsite services that assist the supportive housing resident in retaining the housing, improving his or her health status, and maximizing his or her ability to live and, when possible, work in the community.
(b) Rapid rehousing, including assistance that enables an individual or family experiencing homelessness to be quickly stabilized and housed in permanent housing affordable to the individual or family.
(c) Permanent housing, including housing without a limit on the length of stay that meets the affirmative standard characteristics of Section 1941.1 of the Civil Code.
SEC. 3.
 No appropriation pursuant to Section 15200 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall be made for purposes of implementing this act.