Outcomes are often poor for the children who age-out of foster care without a permanent family. Within two years 50% will be homeless, in prison, victimized or dead.
California led the development of child-centered specialized permanency services for the children and youth likely age-out of foster care without the safety net of a permanent family. Despite of their proven effectiveness these services are rarely used in our state, causing hardship to the children and unnecessarily high costs at all governmental levels.
Placement into permanent families through adoption or guardianship is key to the success of our Continuum of Care reform and can create life-saving changes for these children as their new parents help them overcome their difficult histories including prior trauma and chronic maltreatment.
These services are also highly cost-effective, resulting in county savings in excess of the cost of providing services. Stated another way, counties who do not provide these services have unnecessarily high foster care costs and leave dollars on the table.
AB 1879 defines and requires, under specified conditions*, child-centered specialized permanency services to assist the child in achieving a permanent family through reunification, adoption, legal guardianship, or other lifelong connections to caring adults.
These services are designed for and with the child to address the child’s history of trauma, separation and loss. The services shall include, but are not limited to:
*Specified conditions: the bill requires that the services be provide to children whose reunification services have been terminated (they cannot return to birth parents). are not living with a relative, nor have an approved adoptive family or legal guardian waiting to take legal permanency.
California statues require counties to document intensive and ongoing efforts to place a child with a permanency plan for “Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (long-term foster care) into a permanent family. The statues do not include all the elements of successful child-centered specialized permanency services. Without a definition of these services and a requirement for their use our children waiting for families cannot be assured of receiving these proven services.
Defines child-centered specialized permanency in WIC Section 11400(ag) and requires counties to provide at least semi-annual documentation of their intensive and ongoing efforts to place the child into a permanent family.
Keeping children and youth in foster care is far more costly than placing the child into a permanent family resulting in unnecessarily high foster care costs at all governmental levels. Child-centered specialized permanency services more than pay for themselves.
Requiring child-centered specialized permanency services to children that are waiting in foster care for families will lower costs at all governmental levels.
Children who exit foster care into adoptive and guardianship families bring with them histories of trauma, grief and loss often requiring mental health services. A vast array of research shows that services provided by mental health providers without specialized training and experience in the clinical issues unique to this population can do more harm than good, putting the child at risk for disruption – another loss in their long litany of losses.
Without the support of adoption-competent clinicians children adopted from foster care are at unnecessary risk for disruption from their adoptive family and return to foster care – one more devastating loss in a litany of preventable losses.
AB 1879 increases the stability of families adopting children from foster care by requiring information be provided to potential adoptive families and guardians regarding the importance of working with mental health providers who have specialized adoption /permanency clinical training and experience, should the family need clinical support.