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AB-1611 Child welfare: racial and ethnic disparities. (2011-2012)

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Amended  IN  Assembly  April 18, 2012
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 29, 2012

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2011–2012 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1611


Introduced  by  Assembly Member Beall
(Principal Coauthor(s): Senator Alquist)
(Coauthor(s): Assembly Member Fong, Lara)
(Coauthor(s): Senator Padilla)

February 07, 2012


An act to amend Section 10601.2 of, and to add Section 10605.1 to to,the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to public social services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1611, as amended, Beall. Child welfare: racial and ethnic disparities.
Under existing law, the state, through the State Department of Social Services and county welfare departments, is required to establish and support a public system of statewide child welfare services for the protection of children. Existing law requires the department to establish the California Child and Family Service Review System to review all county child welfare systems. Existing law requires the California Health and Human Services Agency to convene a workgroup, as specified, to establish a workplan by which child and family service reviews shall be conducted. Existing law requires the workgroup to consider, among other things, measurable outcome indicators. Existing law requires the department to identify and promote the replication of best practices in child welfare service delivery to achieve these outcomes. Existing law requires the department to provide prescribed information to legislative committees relating to child welfare system improvements, as specified.
This bill would require the workgroup described above to examine outcome indicators for each racial and ethnic population served within a county. This bill would require a county to address in its self-assessment and system improvement plan, among other things, its efforts to eliminate disparities in services and outcomes for children of color in, and to provide adequate and culturally appropriate services within, its child welfare system. This bill would require the department to identify and promote best practices for increasing cultural competency in the provision of services and eliminating inequities in service delivery to racial and ethnic communities. This bill would authorize the director of the department to take various actions if he or she determines a county substantially failed to comply with the requirements of its system improvement plan, as specified. This bill would require the department to report prescribed information to the Legislature by January 1, 2015.
By requiring counties to address additional matters in its self-assessment and system improvement plan, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.
The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.
This bill would provide that, if the Commission on State Mandates determines that the bill contains costs mandated by the state, reimbursement for those costs shall be made pursuant to these statutory provisions.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: YES  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature finds and declares the following:
(a) It is the intent of the Legislature to eliminate racial and ethnic disproportionality in the child welfare system that is a result of the unnecessary and avoidable removal of children from their families and the failure to equitably serve all communities of color, particularly the Latino community.
(b) Latinos make up nearly 38 percent of the population of the state, but comprise over one-half of the overall child welfare caseload. Specifically, disproportionality exists in certain counties with a large Latino population. For example, in Santa Clara County, nearly 64 percent of the foster care population is Latino, while the Latino population in the county is around 25 percent. Furthermore, despite the fact that more than one-half of the children served in the state are Latino, Latinos have been omitted from recent state projects and initiatives on disproportionality and improving foster care outcomes, including from the California Disproportionality Project and California Partners for Permanency, a five-year pilot project to reduce long-term foster care.
(c) Black children represent almost 6 percent of the state’s population of children and youth, but represent roughly 25 22 percent of the population in care in the child welfare system. When controlling for poverty, Black children enter the system at approximately the same rate as White children, but remain in the system at a rate that is almost one and a one-half times the rate of White children.
(d) Although there are variations by geographic area and across communities of color, children and youth from non-white non-White racial and ethnic communities, overall, enter the child welfare system at a higher rate, are represented in the system at a higher percentage, and remain in the system longer than their White counterparts.
(e) Statistical disparities of children and youth of color in the child welfare system may be a result of numerous complex and interdependent factors, including poverty, classism, racism, limited cultural competence and diversity among staff and service providers, agency policies, and systemic practices, and limited access to services and resources, including prevention, family support, and mental health services.
(f) Many of the societal factors resulting in these disparities are not readily amenable to change by reforms in the child welfare system alone. Nonetheless, more can be done, for example, to eliminate disparities in services and supports provided and enhance the cultural competence of county staff and service providers. According to information gathered by the California Research Bureau in March, 2012, at least 21 states are taking action to eliminate disproportionality in their child welfare systems. At least 12 states are taking action through legislation.
(g) Child welfare agencies must conduct thorough self-assessments, develop action plans, and monitor their progress if they are to eliminate inequities in the child welfare system.

SEC. 2.

 Section 10601.2 of the Welfare and Institutions Code is amended to read:

10601.2.
 (a) The State Department of Social Services shall establish, by April 1, 2003, the California Child and Family Service Review System, in order to review all county child welfare systems. These reviews shall cover child protective services, foster care, adoption, family preservation, family support, and independent living.
(b) Child and family service reviews shall maximize compliance with the federal regulations for the receipt of money from Subtitle E (commencing with Section 470) of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 670 et seq.) and ensure compliance with state plan requirements set forth in Subtitle B (commencing with Section 421) of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. Sec. 621 et seq.).
(c) (1) By October 1, 2002, the California Health and Human Services Agency shall convene a workgroup comprised of representatives of the Judicial Council, the State Department of Social Services, the State Department of Health Care Services, the State Department of Mental Health, the State Department of Education, the Department of Child Support Services, the State Department of Justice, any other state departments or agencies the California Health and Human Services Agency deems necessary, the County Welfare Directors Association, the California State Association of Counties, the Chief Probation Officers of California, the California Youth Connection, and representatives of California tribes, interested child advocacy organizations, researchers, and foster parent organizations. The workgroup shall establish a workplan by which child and family service reviews shall be conducted pursuant to this section, including a process for qualitative peer reviews of case information.
(2) At a minimum, in establishing the workplan, the workgroup shall consider any existing federal program improvement plans entered into by the state pursuant to federal regulations, the outcome indicators to be measured, compliance thresholds for each indicator, timelines for implementation, county review cycles, uniform processes, procedures and review instruments to be used, a corrective action process, and any funding or staffing increases needed to implement the requirements of this section. The agency shall broadly consider collaboration with all entities to allow the adequate exchange of information and coordination of efforts to improve outcomes for foster youth and families.
(d) (1) The California Child and Family Service Review System outcome indicators shall be consistent with the federal child and family service review measures and standards for child and family outcomes and system factors authorized by Subtitle B (commencing with Section 421) and Subtitle E (commencing with Section 470) of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act and the regulations adopted pursuant to those provisions (Parts 1355 to 1357, inclusive, of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations).
(2) During the first review cycle pursuant to this section, each county shall be reviewed according to the outcome indicators established for the California Child and Family Service Review System.
(3) For subsequent reviews, the workgroup shall consider whether to establish additional outcome indicators that support the federal outcomes and any program improvement plan, and promote good health, mental health, behavioral, educational, and other relevant outcomes for children and families in California’s child welfare services system. Outcome indicators shall be examined separately for each racial and ethnic population served within the county to assist in identifying and developing strategies to eliminate inequities in the services provided and disparities in outcomes among the populations served.
(e) (1) (A) Based on its review cycle, each county shall address in detail in the county self-assessment and county system improvement plan, the county’s strategies, ongoing efforts, and planned activities, including time frames timeframes for implementation, to eliminate any disparities identified in services and outcomes for children of color in the county’s child welfare system and to provide adequate and culturally appropriate services for overrepresented and majority populations, particularly the Latino, Black Black, and Native American populations. These may include, but are not limited to, prevention services and supports for families of children at risk of placement in the county child welfare system and the use of culturally competent staffing, resources, and practices.
(B) A county’s self-assessment and system improvement plan shall also address strategies for improving and expediting permanent outcomes for children and youth from communities of color that are overrepresented in the county’s child welfare system, including, but not limited to, developing collaborative partnerships with families and community-based organizations and strategies to identify and recruit kin and nonkin adoptive families.
(2) Unless a county’s review cycle pursuant to this section has a system improvement plan due on or after January 1, 2013, and before January 1, 2014, the county shall amend its most recent system improvement plan by December 31, 2013, to address the issues identified in paragraph (1).
(f) The State Department of Social Services shall identify and promote the replication of best practices in child welfare service delivery to achieve the measurable outcomes established pursuant to subdivision (d), including best practices for increasing cultural competency in the provision of services and eliminating inequities in the delivery of services that result in disparities in outcomes among racial and ethnic populations, particularly the Latino, Black, and Native American communities.
(g) The State Department of Social Services shall provide information to the Assembly and Senate Budget Committees and appropriate legislative policy committees annually, beginning with the 2002–03 fiscal year, on all of the following:
(1) The department’s progress in planning for the federal child and family service review to be conducted by the United States Department of Health and Human Services and, upon completion of the federal review, the findings of that review, the state’s response to the findings, and the details of any program improvement plan entered into by the state.
(2) The department’s progress in implementing the California child and family service reviews, including, but not limited to, the timelines for implementation, the process to be used, and any funding or staffing increases needed at the state or local level to implement the requirements of this section.
(3) The findings and recommendations for child welfare system improvements identified in county self-assessments and county system improvement plans, including information on efforts to assess the bases for disproportionality and disparities in services and outcomes for children of color and to address those issues, common statutory, regulatory, or fiscal barriers identified as inhibiting system improvements, any recommendations to overcome those barriers, and, as applicable, information regarding the allocation and use of the moneys provided to counties pursuant to subdivision (i).
(h) Effective April 1, 2003, the existing county compliance review system shall be suspended to provide to the State Department of Social Services sufficient lead time to provide training and technical assistance to counties for the preparation necessary to transition to the new child and family service review system.
(i) Beginning January 1, 2004, the department shall commence individual child and family service reviews of California counties. County child welfare systems that do not meet the established compliance thresholds for the outcome measures that are reviewed shall receive technical assistance from teams made up of state and peer-county administrators to assist with implementing best practices to improve their performance and make progress toward meeting established levels of compliance.
(j) (1) To the extent that funds are appropriated in the annual Budget Act to enable counties to implement approaches to improving their performance on the outcome indicators under this section, the department, in consultation with counties, shall establish a process for allocating the funds to counties.
(2) The allocation process shall take into account, at a minimum, the extent to which the proposed funding would be used for activities that are reasonably expected to help the county make progress toward the outcome indicators established pursuant to this section, and the extent to which county funding for the Child Abuse, Abuse Prevention and Treatment program is aligned with the outcome indicators.
(3) To the extent possible, a county shall use funds allocated pursuant to this subdivision in a manner that enables the county to access additional federal, state, and local funds from other available sources. However, a county’s ability to receive additional matching funds from these sources shall not be a determining factor in the allocation process established pursuant to this subdivision.
(4) The department shall provide information to the appropriate committees of the Legislature on the process established pursuant to this subdivision for allocating funds to counties.
(k) (1) The department shall contract for research evaluating the disproportionate representation of, and inequities in services for, Latino children and families in the child welfare system, using existing resources or by identifying private funding, and issue a report to the Legislature and to the Governor, including findings and recommendations, by January 1, 2015.
(2) (A)  The requirement for submitting a report imposed under paragraph (1) is inoperative on January 1, 2019, pursuant to Section 10231.5 of the Government Code.
(B) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.

SEC. 3.

 Section 10605.1 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

10605.1.
 If the director determines that a county is substantially failing to comply with the requirements of its system improvement plan pursuant to Section 10601.2 to adequately assess the bases for, or adequately address, disproportionality in its child welfare system, or to ensure the provision of adequate and culturally appropriate services to majority and minority communities within the county, the director may take any action as may be appropriate, including providing enhanced technical assistance to the county, requiring the county to conduct additional self-assessments and adopt system improvement plan amendments, or other remedial actions as authorized under this chapter.

SEC. 4.

 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.