Changes to California’s Foster Care System

Hossein Berenji, May 27, 2016

There are some significant changes coming to California’s foster care system. In 2017 California’s foster care homes will be shutting down, or at a minimum changing because of legislation passed in September of last year. The bill seeks to improve the state’s foster care system and encourage family based placements for children rather than group homes. This bill will also increase the need for experienced divorce and family law attorneys who are comfortable with adoption law.

This bill effectively would transition from the use of group homes to short term residential treatment centers. Only children with “clinical” needs would not be place in family homes. For more information, contact Berenji & Associates today.

Critiques of the Bill

Those who do not favor the bill argue that by closing down group homes an already broken system will fall into further disrepair. Critics claim that children who have behavioral issues but who do not have a clinical need may be tough to place. Critics also say that closure of group homes will give children nowhere to go. However, many childhood behaviorists describe group homes as some of the worst kind of environments for children, and describe nearly any other alternative that resembles a family unit as favorable.

Group Homes in California

Group homes are residential communities where any number from five to 60 children may reside under 24 hour supervision. In California, group homes are classified by levels from one to fourteen based on the level of medical and emotional challenges that the children in the home face. Those who live in a level fourteen home are often prone to violence and running away. Many of the children in a level fourteen home have significant emotional issues. Training for supervisors at these group homes does not differ by level but rather only requires 24 hours of training in a classroom and 20 hours annually of continuing education.

In 2015 there were a number of high profile closures of foster homes due to allegations of abuse. While the foster homes with the worst stories got the most news attention, the California Department of Social Services sent a report to the state legislature indicating that even the best of foster homes had reason to close

How Will This Bill Work?

In an analysis by California’s senate, in order for this bill to be effective, there needs to be a sharp increase in the number of people who are willing to serve as foster families.  In order to for there to be enough beds, many families will have to come forward to help serve as homes for these children. The law provides for $17 million to fund the recruitment of foster parents.

Are You Thinking of Adopting a Child?

The adoption laws of California can be complicated and can have an impact on your marriage, child custody and other family law issues. If you plan to adopt a child, or put a child up for a adoption it is important you talk to someone who knows the process and the laws.  Contact us today so we can help you with the process.