Continuum of Care Reform

On October 11, 2015 Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed legislation that comprehensively reforms placement and treatment options for youth in foster care. Assembly Bill 403,(Stone D-Monterey) sponsored by the California Department of Social Services, builds upon years of policy changes to improve outcomes for youth in foster care.

This effort known as the Continuum of Care Reform draws together a series of existing and new reforms to our child welfare services program designed out of an understanding that children who must live apart from their biological parents do best when they are cared for in committed nurturing family homes. AB 403 provides the statutory and policy framework to ensure services and supports provided to the child or youth and his or her family are tailored toward the ultimate goal of maintaining a stable permanent family. Reliance on congregate care should be limited to short-term, therapeutic interventions that are just one part of a continuum of care available for children, youth and young adults.

The Fundamental Principles Of CCR Are:

  • All children deserve to live with a committed, nurturing and permanent family that prepares youth for a successful transition into adulthood.
  • The child, youth and family’s experience and voice is important in assessment, placement and service planning. A process known as a “child and family team,” which includes the child, youth and family, and their formal and informal support network will be the foundation for ensuring these perspectives are incorporated throughout the duration of the case.
  • Children should not have to change placements to get the services and supports they need. Research shows that being placed in foster care is a traumatic experience and in order for home-based placements to be successful, services including behavioral and mental health should be available in a home setting.
  • Agencies serving children and youth including child welfare, probation, mental health, education and other community service providers need to collaborate effectively to surround the child and family with needed services, resources and supports rather than requiring a child, youth and caregivers to navigate multiple service providers.
  • The goal for all children in foster care is normalcy in development while establishing permanent life-long family relationships. Therefore, children should not remain in a group living environment for long periods of time.

Implementation efforts for CCR will occur in stages between now and 2021 in Child Welfare Services, and in succeeding years in probation foster care.

  • Group care will be primarily utilized only for short-term residential treatment centers that provide intensive treatment interventions. When needed, the short-term residential treatment centers placement option will be available to children and youth requiring highly intensive 24-hour supervision and treatment and will be designed to quickly transition children back to their own or another permanent family.
  • Facilities seeking licensure as an short-term residential treatment centers will need to meet higher standards of care, be accredited, and be able to deliver or arrange for a set of core services including the mental health services that children need. A new rate structure is being developed for these programs.
  • Foster family agencies are re-envisioned to provide various levels of care to meet a broader range of individual child needs. Like short-term residential treatment centers, foster family agencies will make available a core set of services that are trauma-informed and culturally relevant, including specialty mental health services. Foster family agencies, at the request of a county, may provide supports and services to county-approved families, including relatives. .A new rate structure is being developed to support this change.
  • Statewide implementation of the Resource Family Approval process will improve selection, training and support of families under a streamlined, family friendly process for approving families (including relatives) seeking to care for a child in foster care, whether on an emergency, temporary or permanent basis. All families will receive training.
  • Resources are being provided to counties to support the development and implementation of creative strategies for supporting, retaining and recruiting quality relative and non-relative resource families.
  • Services and supports will be tailored to the strengths and needs of a child and delivered to the child/youth in a family-based environment. These services and supports will be informed by an assessment and developed through a child and family team process.
  • Increases accountability and transparency of foster family agencies and short-term residential treatment centers. This approach includes:
    • Accreditation by a national accrediting body
    • Publicly available provider performance measures
    • Consumer satisfaction surveys
    • Interdepartmental oversight framework


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