Report 2011-101.1 All Recommendation Responses

Report 2011-101.1: Child Welfare Services: California Can and Must Provide Better Protection and Support for Abused and Neglected Children (Release Date: October 2011)

Recommendation #1 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that its licensees, including state-licensed foster homes, foster family agencies, and group homes, are in compliance with applicable requirements and that children are protected, Social Services should complete on-site reviews at least once every five years as required by state law.

Agency Response*

CDSS is in full compliance and has conducted all required five-year on-site reviews on 4,563 Children's Residential Facilities statewide as of October 1, 2015. All homes had visits scheduled to be completed by September 24, 2015. CDSS inspects most facilities more frequently than every five years, and continues to develop and implement efficiencies and training for licensing staff. Over the past year the Department has conducted 99.8 percent of five year visits on time.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: September 2015
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Out of 4,913 Children's Residential Facilities statewide, there are only six foster family homes with overdue five-year visits statewide and, of these, five have no children in placement. The CDSS inspects most facilities more frequently than once every five years, and continues to develop and implement efficiencies and training for licensing staff. CDSS will achieve close to 100 percent of all required five year visits. The Department believes that its current 99.8 percent is as close to its goal as possible, given statutory requirements and varying circumstance. With other licensing categories, CDSS conducts unannounced inspections, thus having within its span of control five-year visits. However, in accordance with statute, CDSS staff must contact, schedule and negotiate visit dates with foster families, even those with whom no children are placed.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Fully Implemented/Completion Date: September 2013. The CDSS continues to refine its new evidence-based "key indicators" inspection tool which allows for more frequent visits than the five-year requirement. CDSS inspects most facilities more frequently than once every five years. During State fiscal year (FY) 2012-2013, CDSS averaged visiting facilities once every 29 months utilizing the "key indicator" inspection tools, which is up from once every 38 months noted in the six month response. CDSS is assessing offices experiencing difficulty in attaining 100 percent completion of five year visits. Currently there are 43 facilities with overdue five year visits statewide, equating with a 99 percent completion rate. CDSS continues to develop and implement efficiencies, such as online orientations and technical assistance for licensees that promote compliance, in order to focus staff on efforts to improve the frequency of inspections.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: September 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented

CDSS indicates it has 43 facilities overdue for a five-year visit. This number is higher than the June 2011 condition that generated our original recommendation.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

Social Services stated that historically, it has substantially met the five-year-visit requirement and added that with a new, evidenced-based inspection tool that it is continuing to refine, it will be able to complete facility reviews more frequently than once every five years. We examined Social Services' monthly reports displaying overdue on-site reviews and found that the number of overdue five-year inspections of foster homes, foster family agencies, and group homes was higher in 2012 than it was when we conducted our audit. Specifically, we found 120 of these licensees were overdue for visits in February 2012. Although the number declined to 75 by December 2012, this still exceeds what we found during our audit. The department indicates that 20 of these overdue visits relate to closed facilities and another 11 have been visited. However, the department has not been able to update this information in its database because of ongoing system upgrades.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #2 To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage more effective communication from county CWS agencies regarding its licensees, Social Services should specify in regulations what types of situations or allegations the agencies should forward to its licensing division.

Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation and will not implement, as implementation could endanger children in the foster care system. As stated in our previous response, cross-reporting abuse in out of home care is critical to ensure child safety.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons listed below.

Prior Response: The Department released All County Letter (ACL) 12-42 in September 27, 2012 (see link below), to highlight the CWS agencies' responsibility to cross-report instances of child abuse and/or neglect to the appropriate licensing agency when the alleged abuse occurred in a licensed facility. The ACL reminds county welfare agencies that they have a fundamental obligation to protect and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. As a result, cross-reporting abuse in out-of-home care is critical to ensure child safety and consistency in reporting.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwia-cPDlrPIAhXQT4gKHYk2AGc&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdss.ca.gov%2Flettersnotices%2Fentres%2Fgetinfo%2Facl%2F2012%2F12-42.pdf&usg=AFQjCNH6l7n6NDJqusdGp5WIL3zJnV1VKw&bvm=bv.104615367,d.cGU

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons listed below.

Previous Response: The Department released All County Letter (ACL) 12-42 in September 2012, to highlight the CWS agencies' responsibility to cross-report instances of child abuse and/or neglect to the appropriate licensing agency when the alleged abuse occurred in a licensed facility. The ACL reminds county welfare agencies that they have a fundamental obligation to protect and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. As a result, cross-reporting abuse in out-of-home care is critical to ensure child safety and consistency in reporting.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Disagree with Recommendation. The CDSS does not agree with the recommendation to draft regulations. However, the Department released All County Letter (ACL) 12-42 in September 2012, to highlight the CWS agencies' responsibility to cross-report instances of child abuse and/or neglect to the appropriate licensing agency when the alleged abuse occurred in a licensed facility. The ACL reminds county welfare agencies that they have a fundamental obligation to protect and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. As a result, cross-reporting abuse in out-of-home care is critical to ensure child safety and consistency in reporting.

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons listed above. This will be CDSS' final response to this particular recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: September 2012
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Social Services disagrees with this recommendation because it believes situations requiring a report are already defined. Social Services stated that it sent in September 2012 a notice to all counties reminding them of reporting requirements.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #3 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that rates paid to foster family agencies are appropriate, Social Services should analyze the rates and provide reasonable support for each component, especially the 40 percent administrative fee it currently pays these agencies.

Agency Response*

CDSS has issued All County Letter (ACL) 16-79, dated September 22, 2016, which describes the phased-in implementation of the new Home-Based Family Care (HBFC) rate structure for foster family agencies (FFAs). Two components have been added to capture the new activities: Resource Family Approval and Services and Supports. The administrative component remains the same. Cost reports will be modified to track the new costs. The new HBFC rate structure will now standardize the rates paid to all resource families regardless of the HBFC setting; i.e., placed in a county resource family approved home or in an FFA. The child/youth's need for services will no longer be limited to the placement types. Additionally, FFAs will now expand their scope of services and supports to relatives and non-FFA homes.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: July 2017
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Partially Corrected. CDSS has reviewed the foster family agencies (FFA) rate structure through the Continuum of Care Reform efforts. The framework and revised FFA rate structure will be discussed in the Legislative Report due for release in October 2014.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Partially Implemented/Estimated Completion Date: October 2014. Under the Continuum of Care effort, the FFA rate is being analyzed to determine what aspects can be better defined and restructured. As a result, the existing FFA rate structure is likely to evolve. The workgroup efforts are ongoing in order to meet the statutory October 2014 deadline.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services continues to assert that it will examine this recommendation in conjunction with its existing efforts on congregate care reform. Social Services projected that implementation of this recommendation would not occur until October 2014. Similar to our statement on page 89 of the audit report, we continue to be concerned that Social Services does not fully appreciate that establishing support for foster family agency rates—a portion of which is federally reimbursed—should be a high priority task that should be accomplished regardless of the timeline of any other reform effort.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Recommendation #4 To: Social Services, Department of

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.

Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #5 To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should require county CWS agencies to file in CWS/CMS a detailed justification for any child placed with a foster family agency.

Agency Response*

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation and will not implement, because Assembly Bill 403 represents a significant shift in the scope of services provided by foster family agencies (FFAs). CDSS has issued All County Letter (ACL) 16-79, dated September 22, 2016, which describes the phased-in implementation of the new Home-Based Family Care (HBFC) rate structure for FFAs. Two components have been added to capture the new activities: Resource Family Approval and Services and Supports. The administrative component remains the same. Cost reports will be modified to track the new costs. The new HBFC rate structure will now standardize the rates paid to all resource families regardless of the HBFC setting; i.e., placed in a county resource family approved home or in an FFA. The child/youth's need for services will no longer be limited to the placement types. Additionally, FFAs will now expand their scope of services and supports to relatives and non-FFA homes.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

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.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Partially Corrected. With the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Continuum of Care Reform's (CCR) report to the Legislature caseworkers will assess and document the needs of each child to determine the level of services required and the appropriate placement setting that will meet that child's identified needs. It is anticipated that this process will be operational in 2017. Development of new assessment will include instructions to counties and mechanisms for oversight.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2017
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Agree with Recommendation. The legislation that would have required the system change to CWS/CMS was withdrawn by the author (AB 1697, Perea, 2012) due to significant costs associated with the change. The CDSS continues work with the Program Impact Advisory Committee (PIAC) to explore a change to the CWS/CMS, which will create a field or fields within the system for county placing agencies to document their justifications for placement of a child within a foster family agency. However, the PIAC for the CWS/CMS has identified necessary system changes through Spring of 2015 resulting in this request being held for later reconsideration.

CDSS is currently exploring the utilization of the data entry instructions created in response to AB 74 that added Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.8 requiring CDSS to report to the Legislature on the outcomes of the assessment of youth in group care for longer than one year, and the outcomes of transitions or plans to transition youth to family settings. Due to the inability of the existing CWS/CMS system to collect this specific information, CDSS has had to develop an interim solution with instructions for counties to document in various fields in the CWS/CMS the results of the assessment and justification for continued placement of children in group care. CDSS is in the process of issuing the ACL with these instructions. Once issued, CDSS will be developing ad hoc reports and conducting random case reviews to determine whether these instructions yielded the required information. If successful, CDSS will work with stakeholders to collect similar information for placement of children into FFA, pending a larger system fix and for improved efficiency.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Not Specified
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services indicated that a workgroup has identified potential locations in CWS/CMS that can be modified to provide a consistent location to input and track placement justifications. However, the department stated the earliest that these changes could occur, due to funding constraints and other priorities, is in fall 2013. Moreover, Assembly Bill 1697, as amended in March 2012, would have required Social Services to designate a separate field in CWS/CMS for county CWS agencies to record reasons for placing a child with a foster family agency or group home and would have required a CWS agency to file this information in the system when a placement is made. However, this bill was not enacted during the 2011–12 legislative session.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #6 To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should create a mechanism by which it can efficiently check for compliance with the needs-justification requirement.

Agency Response*

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation, because Assembly Bill 403 represents a significant shift in the scope of services provided by foster family agencies (FFAs). CDSS has issued All County Letter (ACL) 16-79, dated September 22, 2016, which describes the phased-in implementation of the new HBFC rate structure for FFAs. Two components have been added to capture the new activities: Resource Family Approval and Services and Supports. The administrative component remains the same. Cost reports will be modified to track the new costs. The new HBFC rate structure will now standardize the rates paid to all resource families regardless of the HBFC setting; i.e., placed in a county resource family approved home or in an FFA. The child/youth's need for services will no longer be limited to the placement types. Additionally, FFAs will now expand their scope of services and supports to relatives and non-FFA homes.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

See Recommendation 5.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2017
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Agree with Recommendation. The legislation that would have required the system change to CWS/CMS was withdrawn by the author (AB 1697, Perea, 2012) due to significant costs associated with the change. The CDSS continues work with the Program Impact Advisory Committee (PIAC) to explore a change to the CWS/CMS, which will create a field or fields within the system for county placing agencies to document their justifications for placement of a child within a foster family agency. However, the PIAC for the CWS/CMS has identified necessary system changes through Spring of 2015 resulting in this request being held for later reconsideration.

CDSS is currently exploring the utilization of the data entry instructions created in response to AB 74 that added Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16010.8 requiring CDSS to report to the Legislature on the outcomes of the assessment of youth in group care for longer than one year, and the outcomes of transitions or plans to transition youth to family settings. Due to the inability of the existing CWS/CMS system to collect this specific information, CDSS has had to develop an interim solution with instructions for counties to document in various fields in the CWS/CMS the results of the assessment and justification for continued placement of children in group care. CDSS is in the process of issuing the ACL with these instructions. Once issued, CDSS will be developing ad hoc reports and conducting random case reviews to determine whether these instructions yielded the required information. If successful, CDSS will work with stakeholders to collect similar information for placement of children into FFA, pending a larger system fix and for improved efficiency.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Not Specified
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

See Social Services' response under Recommendation 2.1.c.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #7 To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage continued progress and innovation in keeping children safe, Social Services should add to its current CWS performance metrics a measure of the percentage of investigatory visits (both immediate and 10-day) completed on time that excludes attempted investigatory visits from its calculation of successful outcomes.

Agency Response*

CDSS published All County Information Notice (ACIN) I-52-14 on September 9, 2014 (see link below), which provides best practice information for completing timely investigations. CDSS also developed a new outcome measure that provides completed in-person investigatory contacts with a child, and excludes attempted visits. Effective June 2015, the new measure, called "Referrals by Timeliness to Investigations - Completed," is now published on the California Child Welfare Indicators Project website, and provides retrospective performance, both statewide and county-specific, on the measure dating back to July 1, 2003. CDSS has also added a data report to SafeMeasures©, the subscription-based business intelligence tool used by most counties, which assists counties with the identification and tracking of case management tasks and outcomes in granular detail.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwi17Pacl7PIAhUHlogKHRRiAgU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dss.cahwnet.gov%2Flettersnotices%2FEntRes%2Fgetinfo%2Facin%2F2014%2FI-52_14.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHbLyLC48D-9DLwOnLBCRMCLrlF7Q&bvm=bv.104615367,d.cGU

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: July 2015
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Partially Corrected. CDSS agrees with the recommendation. This item continues to be in process. Through a state/county workgroup, CDSS has developed a new outcome measure that calculates completed in-person investigatory contacts with a child, and that excludes attempted visits. It is anticipated that the new measure will be published on the California Child Welfare Indicators Project in spring of 2015. CDSS is providing a new data report to counties that assists in managing and identifying referrals that are timely due to attempted contacts. Additionally, CDSS will be sending out an All County Information Notice (ACIN) in October 2014 that provides information about best practice for completing timely investigations.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: August 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Partially Implemented/Estimated Completion Date: Unknown. The CDSS has developed a workgroup comprised of state and county representation regarding timely response of investigatory visits. The workgroup has met several times to review timely response data and county practice and to discuss the best way to utilize data to improve practice. The workgroup is in the process of reviewing options for providing data and practice information that will be the most useful to assist counties in meeting investigatory guidelines.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services stated that it agrees with the recommendation and a department committee is working with county representatives to determine the best way to provide this information alongside existing measures.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #8 To: Social Services, Department of

To determine whether the hold harmless provision has been effective in reducing caseloads and whether it should be revised or rescinded, Social Services should refine and use CWS/CMS to calculate and report county CWS caseloads.

Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation and will not implement. The annual Child Welfare Realignment report does include a section reporting county caseloads (self-reported).

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this finding, as the state's hold harmless policy does not significantly influence caseload for the Child Welfare Services program. There are significant variations on how county programs assign workers based on tasks or cases, and the state also does not have access to county staffing levels at consistent points in time that could be used for statewide reporting. County staffing levels also are not included in the CWS/CMS system.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

The CDSS does not agree with this finding, as the state's hold harmless policy does not significantly influence caseload for the CWS program. There are significant variations on how county programs assign workers based on tasks or cases, and the state also does not have access to county staffing levels at consistent points in time that could be used for statewide reporting. County staffing levels also are not included in the CWS/CMS system.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Disagree with Recommendation. While CDSS agrees that CWS/CMS could and should be used to calculate and report county caseloads, the Department does not agree with this finding, as the state's hold harmless policy does not influence overall caseload for the CWS program. It is a fiscal policy related to county administrative costs. Due to budget constraints, the state has not funded county cost increases since FY 2001-2002. This policy was instituted to avoid creating a disincentive for counties that create innovative programs or have other factors that result in decreases in out of home care for children.

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons listed above. Additionally, funding for child welfare has been realigned directly to counties. As a result, this will be CDSS' final response to this particular recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

In its October 2011 response to the audit report, Social Services disagreed that one purpose of the hold harmless provision was to reduce caseloads, but nonetheless agreed that CWS/CMS could and should be used to calculate and report county caseloads. Rather than provide an update on its progress towards creating this measure, Social Services once again asserted its disagreement regarding our description of the purpose of the hold harmless provision.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #9 To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage county CWS agencies to conduct formal internal death reviews, Social Services should revise its annual report on child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect to provide information on whether county CWS agencies conducted such a review of child deaths with prior CWS history. To obtain this information, Social Services should revise its regulations to require all county CWS agencies to not only report child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect but to also require a subsequent report indicating whether an internal child death review was completed.

Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation and will not implement, for the reasons stated in the Department's prior response.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation. Reasons for disagreement along with actions taken in response to the recommendations are described below. CDSS agrees that there is great value in counties conducting child death reviews, but continues to disagree with the recommendation that the annual statewide child fatality report should be used to encourage or monitor such reviews. CDSS issued All County Information Notice I-45-12 on September 21, 2012 (attachment emailed) to encourage counties to 1) review cases of child deaths that are determined to be the result of abuse and/or neglect in which the child/family was known to and/or received services from the county CWS agency, or had prior CWS history; 2) annually reconcile the CWS agency's child death information with data from other entities that review child deaths, such as county child death review teams (CDRT); and 3) participate in meetings of local CDRTs when the opportunity is available. Whereas the annual statewide report is an appropriate vehicle for reporting statewide data and systemic issues, it is not an appropriate mechanism for reporting local, county-specific data and issues such as 1) compliance or consistency in the completion of local child death reviews or 2) local systemic issues requiring local change as identified as a result of such reviews. Rather, local systemic issues are best addressed through the County Self-Assessment (CSA) and System Improvement Plan (SIP) processes. Accordingly, CDSS incorporated, within updates to the manual for the CSA processes in the California Child and Family Services Review, instructions for a county to include systematic issues that arise from child death reviews and the process by which counties participate in local CDRT, if applicable, into a county's SIP. An update to the manual was released in All County Letter 13-93, issued on December 9, 2013 (attachment emailed).

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons noted below.

CDSS agrees that there is great value in counties conducting child death reviews. Whereas the annual statewide report is an appropriate vehicle for reporting statewide data and systemic issues, it is not an appropriate mechanism for reporting local, county-specific data and issues such as 1) compliance or consistency in the completion of local child death reviews or 2) local systemic issues requiring local change as identified as a result of such reviews. Rather, local systemic issues are best addressed through the County Self Assessment (CSA) and System Improvement Plan (SIP) processes. Accordingly, CDSS has incorporated, within updates to the manual for the CSA processes in the California Child and Family Services Review, instructions for a county to include systematic issues that arise from child death reviews and the process by which counties participate in local child death review team, if applicable, into a county's SIP.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Disagree with Recommendation. Though CDSS agrees that there is great value in counties conducting child death reviews, CDSS continues to disagree with the recommendation that the annual statewide child fatality report should be used to encourage or monitor such reviews. Whereas the annual statewide report is an appropriate vehicle for reporting statewide data and systemic issues, it is not an appropriate mechanism for reporting local, county-specific data and issues such as 1) compliance or consistency in the completion of local child death reviews or 2) local systemic issues requiring local change as identified as a result of such reviews. Rather, local systemic issues are best addressed through the County Self Assessment (CSA) and System Improvement Plan (SIP) processes. Accordingly, CDSS has incorporated, within updates to the manual for the CSA processes in the California Child and Family Services Review, instructions for a county to include systematic issues that arise from child death reviews and the process by which counties participate in local CDRT, if applicable, into a county's SIP. This manual update is planned for release in the Fall of 2013.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Fall 2013
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services disagrees with this recommendation because it does not believe that its annual report on child deaths is an appropriate vehicle for encouraging counties to conduct formal death reviews. It also does not believe it has the statutory authority to require counties to conduct formal death reviews or report completion of these reviews to Social Services. Rather, Social Services points to the letter it released in September 2012 encouraging counties to conduct formal internal child death reviews. As we indicate on page 90 of the audit report, Social Services' plan for implementing this recommendation fails to create a mechanism to determine whether county CWS agencies are heeding its advice. If enacted, AB 1440 would have implemented our recommendation by requiring county CWS agencies to submit death reviews to Social Services and by requiring Social Services to include in its annual report information on whether county CWS agencies completed formal death reviews. AB 1440 was not enacted during the 2011–12 legislative session.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #10 To: Social Services, Department of

As part of its instructions related to its outcome review process, Social Services should direct county CWS agencies to include completed internal death reviews in the development of their self-assessments and improvement plans.

Agency Response*

Fully Implemented/Completion Date: September 2012. In addition to the September 2012 ACIN, in December 2012 CDSS released a draft of the California-Child and Family Services Review (C-CFSR) Instruction Manual to counties. In the manual, the Critical Incident Review Process states counties shall describe the process by which they review and respond to critical incidents such as fatalities and near fatalities. The process also suggests that counties should consider the appropriateness of including systemic issues in their respective SIPs if such issues are identified during the review process.

Counties have been utilizing the draft Instruction Manual when completing their CSAs and SIPs. CDSS is in the process of finalizing the Instruction Manual, which is expected to be published via ACL in the Fall of 2013.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: September 2012
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services released a September 2012 letter to county CWS agencies encouraging them to use information gathered from death reviews in their county self-assessments. However, the department did not indicate that it revised its instructions related to its outcome review process.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #11 To: Social Services, Department of

To provide more useful information in its annual report, Social Services should provide child death information broken out by county, not just statewide totals. Further, Social Services should provide more analysis, such as comparing child death information over multiple years and presenting each county's child deaths as a percentage of its total child population.

Agency Response*

CDSS continues to disagree with the recommendation to include county-specific information and will not implement. County specific analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require policy or practice changes on behalf of the county staff. The purpose of the state-level report is to analyze statewide trends and provide this information in the context of statewide policy.

CDSS has made changes to the annual report to make the analysis more useful by comparing child fatality data over several years and providing trend analysis in the annual report. CDSS has partially implemented the recommendation by including additional analysis of child fatality data such as comparisons of fatalities over time, analysis of primary and secondary individuals responsible and analysis of CWS involvement with the family. CDSS has identified policy and prevention strategies in response to its data analysis. Further refinement will continue as CDSS identifies systemic issues, identifies trends and gathers additional evidence to support policy and prevention strategies prospectively.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Partially Implemented. CDSS agrees that the annual report can be made more useful by including additional analysis such as comparing child fatality data over several years. Now that the Department has had multiple years collecting the same information on child fatalities, CDSS is including trend analysis in the annual report. CDSS has partially implemented the recommendation by including additional analysis of child fatality data such as comparisons of fatalities over time, analysis of primary and secondary individuals responsible and analysis of child welfare services (CWS) involvement with the family. CDSS has identified policy and prevention strategies in response to its data analysis. Further refinement will continue as CDSS identifies systemic issues, trends and gathers additional evidence to support policy and prevention strategies prospectively.

CDSS continues to disagree with the recommendation to improve the annual child fatality report by including county specific information. County specific analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require of the need for policy or practice changes on behalf of the county staff. The purpose of the state-level report is to analyze statewide trends and provide this information in the context of statewide policy.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2015

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons noted below.

Previous Response: County-specific information already is available from each county, and each county is required to review fatalities and near-fatalities due to abuse or neglect. That analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require the need for policy or practice changes on behalf of the county staff. The purpose of the state-level report is to analyze statewide trends and provide this information in the context of statewide policy. The annual reporting process and product is still in its infancy. The state has only been producing the annual report per Senate Bill (SB) 39 for two years, and reporting requirements have varied throughout the years prior to enactment of SB 39. However, as more data becomes available, it is appropriate to expect that the CDSS and its county partners will be analyzing that data to develop any needed data reporting and policy changes.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: October 2014

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement


Agency Response*

Remains Not Implemented/Disagree with Recommendation. The CDSS disagrees with this recommendation. County-specific information already is available from each county, and each county is required to review fatalities and near-fatalities due to abuse or neglect. That analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require of the need for policy or practice changes on behalf of the county staff. The purpose of the state-level report is to analyze statewide trends and provide this information in the context of statewide policy.

The annual reporting process and product is still in its infancy. The state has only been producing the annual report per SB 39 for two years, and reporting requirements have varied throughout the years prior to enactment of SB 39. Therefore, at this time it is uncertain what additional information would prove valuable in understanding the commonalities in child fatalities that would allow for effective changes in policy or practice across the state. However, as more data becomes available, it is appropriate to expect that the CDSS and its county partners will be analyzing that data to develop any needed data reporting and policy changes.

As a final note, while any fatality is a tragic event, the incidence of fatalities is so low that percentage information would not be meaningful.

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons noted above. This, therefore, will be CDDSS' final response to this particular recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: October 2013

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Social Services continues to disagree with this recommendation, stating that county-specific information is already available from each county. As we indicate on pages 90 and 91 of the audit report, Social Services' assertion that this information is already available from the 58 counties does little to help state decision makers and stakeholders who may be interested in this information. Social Services has this information by county readily available and could present this information in its annual report. AB 1440 would have required Social Services to enhance its annual report to include the information we suggested. However, AB 1440 was not enacted during the 2011–12 legislative session.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: Unknown
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented


Recommendation #12 To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should begin to conduct regular address comparisons using Justice’s sex offender registry and its Licensing Information System and Child Welfare Services/Case Management System (CWS/CMS). If Social Services believes it needs additional resources to do so, it should justify and seek the appropriate level of funding. If efforts to obtain additional resources fail, Social Services should assign this high-priority task to existing staff.

Agency Response*

Social Services began its first address comparison in late December 2011 using its databases and Justice’s sex offender registry. Social Services has continued to refine this process and has performed these address comparisons on a regular basis. Social Services added that it continues to assess its resource needs. (See 2013-406, p. 116)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #13 To: Social Services, Department of

To provide sufficient oversight of county CWS agencies with delegated authority to license foster homes, Social Services should complete comprehensive reviews of these agencies’ licensing activities at least once every three years.

Agency Response*

Social Services completed nine of the 13 county licensing reviews in 2011 that its departmental standards require. Based on information from 2008, 2009, and 2010, these nine reviews represent an improvement on previous years’ performance. In 2012 Social Services doubled this output by completing 18 county licensing reviews (two of these reviews were scheduled for completion in December 2012). (See 2013-406, p. 117)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #14 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that county CWS agencies send required reports of abuse and neglect to Justice, Social Services should remind these agencies of applicable requirements and examine the feasibility of using CWS/CMS to track compliance with these statutory provisions.

Agency Response*

Social Services sent a May 2012 notice to all counties reminding them of the conditions that warrant cross reporting to appropriate law enforcement agencies. Social Services determined that CWS/CMS currently has the capability to be used to track compliance with these reporting requirements. (See 2013-406, p. 118)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #15 To: Social Services, Department of

To achieve greater cooperation from county CWS agencies and to make it possible for some of these agencies to improve their placement practices, Social Services should develop a funding alternative that allows the agencies to retain a portion of state funds they save as a result of reducing their reliance on foster family agencies and only making placements with these agencies when justified by the elevated treatment needs of the child. The agencies would use these funds to support placement activities necessary to achieve the savings (for example, assessment centers and placement resource units).

Agency Response*

Social Services stated that the intent of this recommendation has been essentially implemented by the realignment of CWS funding. Social Services indicated that, under realignment, county CWS agencies now have financial incentives to place children in the lowest cost placement necessary to effectively meet the needs of individual children. (See 2013-406, p. 119)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #16 To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should work with the Alameda County CWS agency to improve its percentage of ongoing case visits completed until it at least meets Social Services’ compliance goal of 90 percent.

Agency Response*

Social Services stated that it continues to monitor Alameda’s performance on this measure. Social Services asserted that Alameda made progress last calendar year on case worker visits, meeting or exceeding the 90 percent threshold in all but two months. (See 2013-406, p. 119)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #17 To: Social Services, Department of

To improve agency practices and increase the safety of children within the CWS system, all county CWS agencies should perform a formal internal review of the services they delivered to each child before he or she died of abuse or neglect and implement any resulting recommendations.

Agency Response*

Social Services released, in September 2012, a letter to all counties encouraging them, as a best practice, to conduct internal reviews of fatalities resulting from abuse or neglect. Additionally, Assembly Bill 1440 (AB 1440), as amended in March 2012, would have required each county CWS agency to conduct a formal child death review and would also have required counties to submit death review reports to Social Services. AB 1440 was not enacted during the 2011–12 Legislative Session. (See 2013-406, p. 120)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #18 To: Social Services, Department of

As part of its oversight of the outcome review process, Social Services should follow up on whether Fresno and Sacramento counties implemented recommendations resulting from their respective internal death reviews.

Agency Response*

Social Services reported that this recommendation was fully implemented and identified various actions taken by Fresno and Sacramento counties in response to recommendations resulting from their respective child death reviews. (See 2013-406, p. 121)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #19 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that they report all requisite child deaths to Social Services and investigate all child deaths involving abuse or neglect, county CWS agencies should annually reconcile their child death information with other reliable information on child deaths, such as county child death review team data.

Agency Response*

Social Services agrees that county CWS agencies should reconcile their child death information with other reliable information on child deaths, such as county child death review team data. Social Services issued a notice in September 2012 to all counties encouraging them to do so. (See 2013-406, p. 121)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #20 To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that vulnerable individuals, including foster children, are safe from sex offenders, Social Services should complete follow up on any remaining address matches our office provided in July 2011 and take appropriate actions, as well as relay information to Justice or local law enforcement for any sex offenders not in compliance with registration laws.

Agency Response*

Social Services reported that it finished following-up on the outstanding address matches that our office provided in July 2011. In addition, it stated that it reported erroneous address data that it identified through the investigations to Justice. In a few instances, we questioned the appropriateness of the actions taken by county CWS agencies in which they allowed sex offenders to remain in homes of children in the CWS system. Social Services stated that in certain circumstances counties do not have an obligation under current regulation or policy to remove children from homes due to the presence of a registered sex offender. However, counties are still required to determine the immediate risk and take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of children in these instances. Social Services indicated that counties have discretion over the action they take and that in certain situations it may be determined appropriate for a child to be in the home of a registered sex offender. (See 2013-406, pp. 115-116)

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: November 2012

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


All Recommendations in 2011-101.1

Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year or subsequent to one year.

*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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