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AB-656 Child welfare system: racial disparities.(2021-2022)

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Date Published: 02/12/2021 09:00 PM
AB656:v99#DOCUMENT


CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 656


Introduced by Assembly Member Carrillo
(Coauthors: Assembly Members McCarty and Stone)

February 12, 2021


An act to add Section 324.6 to the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to child welfare services.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 656, as introduced, Carrillo. Child welfare system: racial disparities.
Existing law establishes the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, which may adjudge children to be dependents of the court under certain circumstances, including when the child suffered or there is a substantial risk that the child will suffer serious physical harm, or a parent fails to provide the child with adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment. Existing law establishes the grounds for removal of a dependent child from the custody of their parents or guardian, and establishes procedures to determine temporary placement of a dependent child. Existing law generally governs the provision of child welfare services, which is defined to mean public social services that are directed toward the accomplishment of specified purposes, including protecting and promoting the welfare of all children and preventing the unnecessary separation of children from their families.
This bill would, subject to an appropriation in the annual Budget Act and until January 1, 2024, require the State Department of Social Services to establish a pilot project for the purpose of addressing racial disparities in the child welfare system in an unspecified number of counties that elect to participate. The bill would require a program that receives funding pursuant to these provisions to utilize a blind removal strategy when deciding whether a child should be removed from their parents’ home, as specified.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 It is the intent of the Legislature to promote racial equity and advance practices of equity and inclusion in the child welfare system. The Legislature finds and declares that families from racial and ethnic minority populations are disparately represented nationwide in the child welfare system. It is further the intent of the Legislature to address the racial disparities in the child welfare system by eliminating bias in the decisionmaking process determining whether children are removed from their parents’ home by utilizing a blind removal strategy.

SEC. 2.

 Section 324.6 is added to the Welfare and Institutions Code, to read:

324.6.
 (a) The State Department of Social Services shall establish a pilot project for the purpose of addressing racial disparities in the child welfare system in up to ____ counties that elect to participate.
(b) (1) A program that receives funding pursuant to this section shall utilize a blind removal strategy when deciding whether a child should be removed from their parents’ home.
(2) A program that receives funding pursuant to this section may include, but shall not be limited to, a program whereby at any meeting of the county child welfare agency during which the removal of a child from the child’s home is discussed, all of the following information shall be redacted from the case file and may not be referenced:
(A) The name of the child and the child’s parents.
(B) The gender of the child and the child’s parents.
(C) The race or ethnicity of the child and the child’s parents.
(D) The sexual orientation of the child and the child’s parents.
(E) The address of the child and the child’s parents.
(F) The birth order of the child and the number of children of the parents.
(G) The religious affiliation or beliefs of the child and the child’s parents.
(H) The political affiliation or beliefs of the child and the child’s parents.
(I) The marital status of the child’s parents.
(J) The income of the child’s parents.
(K) The education level of the child’s parents.
(L) Any prior investigation of the child’s parents for child abuse or neglect that resulted in an unsubstantiated finding.
(c) A county that elects to participate in the pilot project and establishes a program pursuant to this section shall conduct at least one evaluation of the program’s impact and effectiveness. The evaluation shall include, but not be limited to, monitoring the program’s effect on the rate of Black children who were removed from their parents’ home.
(d) Implementation of this section shall be subject to an appropriation of funds in the annual Budget Act for the purposes of this section.
(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2024, and as of that date is repealed.