Social Services should create and monitor compliance with clear requirements specifying that children placed with foster family agencies must have elevated treatment needs that would require a group home placement if not for the existence of these agencies' programs. Specifically, Social Services should revise its regulations so licensed foster homes have higher priority than foster family agencies for children that do not have identified treatment needs.
County Foster Homes and foster family agency (FFA)-certified homes will be required to meet the same standards. Effective January 2017, all foster and certified homes, and relatives will be licensed as a Resource Family (RF).
All County Letter (ACL) 16-58 http://www.dss.cahwnet.gov/lettersnotices/EntRes/getinfo/acl/2016/16-58.pdf outlines the standards which includes how an RF is entered into CWS/CMS. The need for preference to place in an FFA as a priority will no longer be applicable given the shift in direction of how foster homes, certified homes and relatives will be approved.
CDSS continues its efforts to change state statutes and regulations, and to revise and establish a new foster family agency rate methodology to be implemented as part of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). These ongoing reform efforts also will establish a process to make placement decisions based on the needs of a child or youth and not on the placement type. Moreover, CDSS continues its work with stakeholders, counties, and foster care providers to revise the rate structure, so that it is relevant and comprehensive and aligned with the requirements of CCR and Assembly Bill 403.
Partially Corrected. The Administration agrees with this recommendation and is currently having discussions to address the issues in conjunction with Continuum of Care Reform efforts.
Partially Implemented/Estimated Completion Date: October 2013. As part of the continuum of care effort, CDSS is tasked with recommending core service levels for group home and FFA providers that are integrated and support safety, permanency and well-being for children. Decisions to place children and youth into congregate care will center on a practice model and assessment of that child and family's strengths and needs. CDSS will also develop performance measures for providers to support improved outcomes for children in group homes and FFA settings.
Although Social Services agrees that licensed foster homes are the preferred placement type for children who do not have identified treatment needs, Social Services indicated that it will continue to consider this recommendation in the context of congregate care reform. We continue to believe, as we state on page 90 of the audit report, that Social Services should expeditiously establish a requirement that county CWS agencies provide adequate justification for placements with foster family agencies and this action should not be dependent on the timeline of some larger reform effort.
Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.