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Legal Resources | Welfare and Institutions Code |  WI  16500.5  

Public Social Services; State Child Welfare Services   

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(a) (1) The Legislature hereby declares its intent to encourage the continuity of the family unit by:

(A) (i) Providing family preservation services.

(ii) For purposes of this subdivision, "family preservation services" means intensive services for families whose children, without these services, would be subject to any of the following:

(I) Be at imminent risk of out-of-home placement.

(II) Remain in existing out-of-home placement for longer periods of time.

(III) Be placed in a more restrictive out-of-home placement.

(B) Providing supportive services for those children within the meaning of Sections 360, 361, and 364 when they are returned to the family unit or when a minor will probably soon be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 301.

(C) Providing counseling and family support services designed to eradicate the situation that necessitated intervention.

(2) The Legislature finds that maintaining abused and neglected children in foster care grows increasingly costly each year, and that adequate funding for family services that might enable these children to remain in their homes is not as readily available as funding for foster care placement.

(3) The Legislature further finds that other state bodies have addressed this problem through various systems of flexible reimbursement in child welfare programs that provide for more intensive and appropriate services to prevent foster care placement or significantly reduce the length of stay in foster care.

(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that family preservation and support services in California conform to the federal definitions contained in Section 431 of the Social Security Act as contained in Public Law 103-66, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1987. The Legislature finds and declares that California's existing family preservation programs meet the intent of the federal Promoting Safe and Stable Families program.

(c) (1) Services that may be provided under this program may include, but are not limited to, counseling, mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment services, including treatment at a residential substance abuse treatment facility that accepts families, parenting, respite, day treatment, transportation, homemaking, and family support services. Each county that chooses to provide mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment shall identify and develop these services in consultation with county mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment agencies. Additional services may include those enumerated in Sections 16506 and 16507. The services to be provided pursuant to this section may be determined by each participating county. Each county may contract with individuals and organizations for services to be provided pursuant to this section. Each county shall utilize available private nonprofit resources in the county prior to developing new county-operated resources when these private nonprofit resources are of at least equal quality and costs as county-operated resources and shall utilize available county resources of at least equal quality and cost prior to new private nonprofit resources.

(2) Participating counties authorized by this subdivision shall provide specific programs of direct services based on individual family needs as reflected in the service plans to families of the following:

(A) Children who are dependent children not taken from physical custody of their parents or guardians pursuant to Section 364.

(B) Children who are dependent children removed from the physical custody of their parents or guardian pursuant to Section 361.

(C) Children who it is determined will probably soon be within the jurisdiction of the juvenile court pursuant to Section 301.

(D) Upon approval of the department, children who have been adjudged wards of the court pursuant to Sections 601 and 602.

(E) Upon approval of the department, families of children subject to Sections 726 and 727.

(F) Upon approval of the department, children who are determined to require out-of-home placement pursuant to Section 7572.5 of the Government Code.

(3) The services shall only be provided to families whose children will be placed in out-of-home care without the provision of services or to children who can be returned to their families with the provision of services.

(4) The services selected by any participating county shall be reasonable and meritorious and shall demonstrate cost-effectiveness and success at avoiding out-of-home placement, or reducing the length of stay in out-of-home placement. A county shall not expend more funds for services under this subdivision than that amount which would be expended for placement in out-of-home care.

(5) The program in each county shall be deemed successful if it meets the following standards:

(A) Enables families to resolve their own problems, effectively utilize service systems, and advocate for their children in educational and social agencies.

(B) Enhancing family functioning by building on family strengths.

(C) At least 75 percent of the children receiving services remain in their own home for six months after termination of services.

(D) During the first year after services are terminated:

(i) At least 60 percent of the children receiving services remain at home one year after services are terminated.

(ii) The average length of stay in out-of-home care of children selected to receive services who have already been removed from their home and placed in out-of-home care is 50 percent less than the average length of stay in out-of-home care of children who do not receive program services.

(E) Two years after the termination of family preservation services:

(i) The average length of out-of-home stay of children selected to receive services under this section who, at the time of selection, are in out-of-home care, is 50 percent less than the average length of stay in out-of-home care for children in out-of-home care who do not receive services pursuant to this section.

(ii) At least 60 percent of the children who were returned home pursuant to this section remain at home.

(6) Funds used for services provided under this section shall supplement, not supplant, child welfare services funds available for services pursuant to Sections 16506 and 16507.

(7) Programs authorized after the original pilot projects shall submit data to the department upon the department's request.

(d) (1) A county welfare department social worker or probation officer may, pursuant to an appropriate court order, return a dependent minor or ward of the court removed from the home pursuant to Section 361 to his or her home, with appropriate interagency family preservation program services.

(2) The county probation department may, with the approval of the State Department of Social Services, through an interagency agreement with the county welfare department, refer cases to the county welfare department for the direct provision of services under this subdivision.

(e) Foster care funds shall remain within the administrative authority of the county welfare department and shall be used only for placement services or placement prevention services or county welfare department administrative cost related to the interagency family preservation program.

(f) To the extent permitted by federal law, any federal funds provided for services to families and children may be utilized for the purposes of this section.

(g) A county may establish family preservation programs that serve one or more geographic areas of the county, subject to the approval of the State Department of Social Services.

(1) All funds expended by a county for activities under this section shall be expended by the county in a manner that will maximize eligibility for federal financial participation.

(2) Any county, subject to the approval of the State Department of Social Services, may claim federal financial participation, if allowable and available, as provided by the State Department of Social Services in the federal Promoting Safe and Stable Families program in accordance with the federal guidelines and regulations for that county's AFDC-FC expenditures pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 11450, for children subject to Sections 300, 301, 360, and 364, in advance, provided that the county conducts a program of family reunification and family maintenance services for families receiving these services pursuant to Sections 300, 301, 360, and 364, and as permitted by the department, children subject to Sections 601, 602, 726, and 727, and Section 7572.5 of the Government Code.

(h) In order to maintain federal funding and meet federal requirements, the State Department of Social Services and the Office of Child Abuse Prevention shall provide administrative oversight, monitoring, and consultation to ensure both of the following:

(1) Each county includes in its county plan information that details what services are to be funded under this section and who will be served, and how the services are coordinated with the array of services available in the county. In order to maintain federal funding to meet federal requirements, the State Department of Social Services shall review these plans and provide technical assistance as needed, as provided in Section 10601.2. In order to meet federal requirements, the Office of Child Abuse Prevention shall require counties to submit annual reports, as part of the current reporting process, on program services and children and families served. The annual reporting process shall be developed jointly by the department and county agencies for the purpose of meeting federal reporting requirements.

(2) In order to maximize federal financial participation for the federal Promoting Safe and Stable Families grant, funds expended from this program are in compliance with data-reporting requirements in order to meet federal nonsupplantation requirements in accordance with Section 1357.32(f) of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations, and the 25 percent state match requirement in accordance with Section 1357.32(d) of Title 45 of the Code of Federal Regulations.

(i) Beginning in the 2011-12 fiscal year, and for each fiscal year thereafter, funding and expenditures for programs and activities under this section shall be made with moneys allocated pursuant to Sections 30025 and 30029.2 of the Government Code.

(Amended by Stats. 2014. Ch. 219, Sec. 9.)