RAND Report Finds Combination of Prevention + Treatment Services = Decrease in Child Maltreatment

A re-released study from RAND has concluded that a combination of increased prevention and treatment services will reduce child maltreatment two to four percent. The study, originally released in May and funded by the Pritzker Foster Care Initiative was re-released in December and draws its conclusions from a quantitative model that simulated how children enter and move through the nation’s child welfare system.

According to its authors, the study is, “the first attempt to integrate maltreatment risk, detection, pathways through the system, and consequences in a comprehensive quantitative model that can be used to simulate the potential impact of policy changes.”

The study investigates the three key policy alternatives: access to prevention services, family preservation treatment efforts and kinship care treatment efforts, and measures the effect of each policy option in reducing child maltreatment and improving young adult outcomes. According to the study, increasing prevention services decreases episodes of child maltreatment, the number of referrals to the child welfare system and the number of substantiated episodes. These measured decreases in each outcome ranged from two percent to four percent.

Increasing access to family preservation also had an effect, specifically in changing young adult outcomes. The study found family preservation decreased later substance abuse, criminal conviction, homelessness and underemployment. This decrease in each outcome ranged from 3.9 to 11.2 percent. Finally, the study examined the effect of kinship placements, which led to small increases in young adult outcomes noted above, ranging from 1.8 to 2.9 percent. To read the report, follow this LINK.

State Clarifies Foster Care System, Not Criminal Justice, is the System for CSEC Victims

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released guidance to counties informing them of the changes made by Senate Bill 1322 (Mitchell), which prohibits the arrest or prosecution of a minor for crimes of soliciting or engaging in any act of prostitution for money or other consideration, or loitering with the intent to commit an act of prostitution.

SB 1322 instead specifies these children may be adjudged dependent children of the court and taken into temporary custody if they have an immediate need for medical care; the child is in immediate danger of physical or sexual abuse; or leaving the child unattended poses an immediate threat to the child’s health or safety. If the parent or guardian cannot be contacted, the officer must notify the county welfare department to assume custody of the child. To read the All County Information Notice on SB 1322, follow this LINK.

CDSS has also released recommended practices for providers serving commercially sexually exploited children. The recommended practices are intended primarily for county providers who are drafting Program Statements as required for establishing Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs, as well as other placement types including Resource Families and Intensive Services Foster Care Providers. To read the All County Information Notice which includes the recommended practices document, follow this LINK.

State Clarifies NMDs’ Right to Privacy & Decision-Making Regarding Medical Care

The California Department of Social Services has released an errata to All County Letter 17-22, making clarifications about health assessment and dental referral periodicity schedules for children, youth and non-minor dependents (NMDs) in foster care.

The original ACL stated that children, youth and NMDs must receive timely health and dental exams based on the Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) Bright Futures Schedule for Health Assessments and the CHDP/Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnostic and Treatment (EPSDT) Periodicity Schedule for Dental Referrals.

However, as legal adults, NMDs have the right to privacy regarding their medical conditions and the right to consent to receive treatment or to take medication. While youth over 18 are entitled to receive medical care with the frequency provided by the new periodicity schedules, they must consent and agree to receive dental and healthcare treatment and services. Counties cannot require NMDs to receive services at a particular frequency, and healthcare information for NMDs cannot be obtained, added to the health and education summary, or shared without the NMD’s consent. To read the errata to ACL 17-22, follow this LINK.

For adolescents, doctors’ visits should include sexual health and development, including access to birth control. Additionally, youth have the right to not have the caregiver in the appointment with them as indicated in All County Letter 16-82.

As outlined in California’s Plan for the Prevention of Unintended Pregnancy for Youth and Non-Minor Dependents, the social worker/probation officer should provide youth and NMDs with information about how to make doctor appointments, a list of medical provider options, the youth’s medical insurance information and a list of frequently asked questions to ask their doctor.

New State Data Show Foster Children Experience Highest Rate of Chronic Absenteeism

The California Department of Education has released its first-ever statewide analysis of chronic absenteeism. Statewide, 10.4% of California’s 6.4 million students experienced chronic absenteeism in the 2016-17 school year, which is defined as missing 10 percent or more of the school days in a school year.

This statewide rate varied considerably between student subgroups and by student race and ethnicity. Among student subgroups, chronic absenteeism was highest among foster youth, with a full 25.1 percent experiencing it in the 2016-17 school year. Homeless youth were behind at 21.1 percent, following by students with disabilities (17.7%), socioeconomically disadvantaged (13.5), English learners (10.5%) and Migrant Education (9.1%).

The requirement to track chronic absenteeism was part of the implementation of the Local Control Funding Formula. School districts are required to track it as part of their Local Control and Accountability Plan, a detailed plan developed by every school district to track student outcomes.

Tracking chronic absenteeism resulted due to mounting evidence that even short breaks in school attendance affects learning and school performance. According to research by Attendance Works, kindergarten students who are chronically absent are less likely to read proficiently by the end of third grade and more likely to be held back in later grades. By sixth grade, absenteeism is one of the three early warning indicators influencing high school graduation. In addition to statewide data, information about chronic absenteeism is reported by school and district on CDE’s database, DataQuest.

CalYOUTH Brief Finds Higher Rates of Psych Med Use among LGBTQ Youth

Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago has released a new issue brief from the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood (CalYOUTH) Study, “The Use of Psychotropic Medications over Time among Foster Youth Transitioning to Adulthood.”

According to the study, sexual minority youth were more likely than heterosexual youth to screen positive for a behavioral health disorder at age 17 (66% vs. 44%) and age 19 (40% vs. 23%), more likely to receive psychotropic medications at age 17 (37% vs. 23%) and age 19 (22% vs. 13%), and more likely to receive counseling at age 17 (67% vs. 48%) and age 19 (35% vs. 24%).

Females were more likely than males to screen positive for a behavioral health problem (53% vs. 41%), and to receive mental health counseling (59% vs. 45%) at age 17. The data also uncovered that the vast majority of youth using psychotropic medications also received counseling services at both ages (84% at age 17 and 80% at age 19).

In addition to overall prevalence rates, the brief examines specific mental health and substance use problems and how the prevalence rates changed from age 17 to 19, the proportion of youth who used medication among those with a behavioral health problem, and youths’ perceptions of psychotropic medication use. To read the issue brief, follow this LINK.

Over 30 Counties Have Joined the California Foster Youth FAFSA Challenge

Over 30 counties have signed on for the California Foster Youth FAFSA Challenge! Launched by John Burton Advocates for Youth in partnership with the California Department of Education’s Foster Youth Services Coordinating Program (FYSCP) and the California Community College Chancellor’s Office, the campaign aims to increase the number of foster youth who are prepared for success as they matriculate from high school into college by ensuring that foster youth are accessing financial aid.

JBAY provides technical assistance and support, outreach materials, incentives, and other resources designed to boost the number of high school seniors in foster care who complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or for undocumented students the California Dream Act Application (CADAA).

Completion of the FAFSA or CADAA is crucial to ensuring foster youth receive financial aid and subsequently enroll and persist in college, including career and technical education at California’s community colleges. Data show that 90 percent of high school seniors who complete the FAFSA enroll in college within 12 months as compared to 45 percent of those who do not complete the FAFSA.

Local efforts are led by FYSCPs in collaboration with community partners. High school seniors in foster care in participating counties who complete the FAFSA or CADAA will be entered into a drawing for $500 scholarships. FYSCPs have until December 31, 2017, to register. To learn more about the Challenge, and see which counties have already signed on, visit the Challenge web page.

Fall 2017 School Enrollment Up from Last Year for Youth in THP+FC & THP-Plus

John Burton Advocates for Youth has released program snapshots for the two transitional housing programs for current and former foster youth. These snapshots are released quarterly and provide moment-in-time, statewide, aggregate data for the THP+FC and THP-Plus programs in the areas of education, employment and income, involvement with the criminal justice system, and parenting status.

As of September 30, 2017, a total of 55 percent of youth in THP+FC and 44 percent in THP-Plus were enrolled in school, up from the June 30th figures of 40 and 34 percent, respectively. While enrollment has increased — not surprisingly — after the transition from summer to fall, it is also up from the previous fall for youth in THP+FC. As of September 30, 2016, exactly half of youth in THP+FC were enrolled in school, and in THP-Plus, the same figure as this year – 44 percent – were enrolled.

Of the 55 percent of youth in THP+FC enrolled in school this fall, the majority were attending a community college (68%), nearly one-quarter (24%) were completing high school, and eight percent were attending a four-year college or university. In THP-Plus, nearly three-quarters (74%) of the 44 percent enrolled in school were attending a community college, 16 percent were attending a four-year, and ten percent were completing high school.

Across most other areas, the data has remained relatively consistent, with the exception of employment. Less unemployed youth were seeking employment in September as compared to June, and less employed youth were working full-time in September as compared to June.

The program snapshots are based on data from the THP+FC and THP-Plus Participant Tracking Systems, online databases that provide demographic and outcome data on 719 THP+FC participants and 735 THP-Plus participants. To view the THP+FC Program Snapshot, follow this LINK. To view the THP-Plus Program Snapshot, follow this LINK.

Stop Vulnerable Children from Footing the Bill for Tax “Reform”

Child welfare advocates are calling on Congress to reject the proposed tax bill under consideration due to its harmful effect on children. According to an analysis by the Child Welfare League of America, the proposed $1.5 trillion tax cut would result in mandatory cuts over ten years to pay for the funding deficit it creates.

While some programs, such as foster care and adoption assistance would be exempt from these cuts because they are federal entitlement programs, most programs would not. This includes the Social Services Block Grant which provides $1.587 billion to fund 29 different types of services, including child welfare, child protection services ($329 million), adult protection services ($191 million), disability services ($227 million) and child care ($300 million). In FY 2018, California received $191 million.

The SSBG was created as in 1981, by consolidating a number of federal entitlement programs and then turning it into a block grant. As a result, SSBG has lost 73 percent of its value since 1982, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

CWLA is urging individuals to protect the SSBG and prevent it from being used to pay for the tax legislation under consideration in Congress. To ask your legislator to take action, follow this LINK.

Questions about the New Emergency Child Care Bridge Program? Ask CDSS

The California Department of Social Services Child Care Programs Bureau has released a Frequently Asked Questions document regarding the implementation of the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children. As shared in more detail in a previous newsletter, The Bridge Program addresses lack of child care as a barrier for potential families seeking to take in a foster child, and for foster youth who are parents themselves.

The FAQ answers questions such as “Is the Bridge Program available to families who are not yet approved as a resource family?” “What are the allowable administrative costs for the voucher payments?” “Do Counties have the option to limit the child care voucher period?”

The FAQ also covers other questions related to eligibility, voucher payments, age limits, criteria for extending the child care voucher period, participation of license-exempt providers, claiming, out-of-state placements and out-of-county placements, relevant definitions, the curriculum for the trauma-informed training component of the Bridge Program, and more.

For more information about the Bridge Program, read a recent All County Letter. To view the FAQ, follow this LINK. CDSS has indicated that additional questions regarding the Bridge Program can be sent to ChildCareBridge@dss.ca.gov, and questions regarding claiming, allocations, or other fiscal issues may be sent to Fiscal.Systems@dss.ca.gov.

Some Phase II Rates Under Continuum of Care Reform Delayed Until February

The California Department of Social Services has released an All County Letter announcing the delay of the Level-of-Care (LOC) Rate Determination Protocol until February 1, 2018 in order to provide additional time to counties to train their workforce and establish clear procedures regarding the appropriate use of the LOC Protocol.

As described in a previously issued ACL, changes occurring as part of California’s Continuum of Care Reform include the newly established Home-Based Family Care LOC rate structure. Under the new rate structure, the age-based system is replaced by a four-tiered rate structure (Basic Level Rate, LOC 2, LOC 3 and LOC 4) based on the child’s needs as determined by the LOC Protocol which uses a set of core domains describing the care needs for the child and Resource Family’s (RF) level of expected supervision and supports.

Beginning in February, the LOC Protocol will be used for initial/new and existing placements if there is a triggering event, with RFs, Foster Family Agencies (FFAs), foster homes certified by an FFA that are in the process of becoming RF-approved homes, relatives, Non-Related Extended Family Members, and non-minor dependents not residing in a Supervised Independent Living Placement.

The delay of the LOC Protocol impacts the implementation of Phase II rates for some placements. For all new placements that occur between December 1, 2017 and January 31, 2018, the Basic Level Rate will be paid until an LOC rate determination can be made on or after February 1, 2018. If an LOC 2-4 rate is determined, the rate will have an effective date retroactive back to the date of initial/new placement. To read the ACL, follow this LINK.