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

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Date Published: 04/06/2021 09:00 PM
AB656:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 06, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 656


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

February 12, 2021


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


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 656, as amended, 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, Act, require the State Department of Social Services to establish a 3-year pilot project program for the purpose of addressing racial disparities in the child welfare system in an unspecified number of counties that elect to participate. at least 5 counties, which shall be selected to participate on a voluntary basis in the pilot program according to criteria developed by the department. 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. The bill would require the department to submit to the Legislature an evaluation of the pilot programs and their impact and effectiveness, including, but not be limited to, monitoring the program’s effect on the rate of Black, Native American, and Latinx children who were removed.
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 program for the purpose of addressing racial disparities in the child welfare system in up to ____ counties that elect to participate. at least five counties, which shall be selected to participate on a voluntary basis in the pilot program according to criteria developed by the department, in consultation with the County Welfare Directors Association of California. In selecting the pilot counties, the department shall promote diversity among the participating counties in terms of size and geographic location. The counties shall include, at a minimum, one county in southern California, one county in northern California, and one county in a rural area of the state.
(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 in preparation for the removal decision 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.
(3) All redacted identifying information shall be available for all other purposes throughout the local child welfare agency’s involvement with the child, including, but not limited to, evaluations, provision of services, and court proceedings.

(c)A county that elects to participate in the pilot project and establishes a program pursuant to this section

(c) (1) The department shall conduct at least one evaluation of the program’s impact and effectiveness. participating counties’ pilot programs and their impact and effectiveness after three years of implementation, and shall submit the information from the evaluation in a report to the Legislature. The evaluation shall include, but not be limited to, monitoring the program’s effect on the rate of Black Black, Native American, and Latinx children who were removed from their parents’ home.
(2) A report to be submitted pursuant to paragraph (1) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(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, 2026, and as of that date is repealed.