Current Focus Continuum of Care Reform
In 2015, California passed Assembly Bill 403, major legislation that over the next few years will significantly reform the state’s child welfare system. This legislation, known as the Continuum of Care Reform (CCR), was designed to ensure children in foster care have the greatest chance of growing up with a family that provides them the individualized care and support they need to achieve permanency. A key objective of CCR is the drastic decrease in reliance on group homes and institutional settings as placement options. While this reform promises to improve the daily lives and outcomes of our children and youth in foster care, especially teenagers and youth with special needs, agencies like ours will take on additional responsibilities in complying with the legislation and meeting the needs for additional foster/adoptive families and enhanced services to children, youth, and families.
In response to CCR, which begin to take effect in January 2017, we are exploring and developing strategic initiatives to respond to and influence these policy changes, including:
- Recruiting a wider pool of foster/adoptive families, including those able and willing to care for older youth, as well as children with mental and behavioral health needs.
- Expanding the support services we offer to foster/adoptive families, birth families, and relatives to support permanency for children and youth in our care.
- Increasing our role in ensuring youth and families receive mental health services.
We also aim to collaborate closely with our partners in the field and share information to guide one another in effectively implementing CCR changes within our agencies. In February 2016, we held a County-wide policy summit to unpack CCR, discuss what the changes mean for child welfare agencies, and share collective strategies for recruiting a larger pool of families and for effectively meeting the needs of teenagers transitioning out of group care. Over 100 participants were in attendance, representing 21 different foster family agencies, as well as a variety of group homes, LA County government agencies, philanthropic partners, and other social services and youth-serving agencies.