The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a motion Tuesday directing the departments of Children and Family Services (DCFS) and Probation to develop a plan within 120 days to increase foster care placements.
The motion, which was authored by Supervisors Sheila Kuehl, 3rd District, and Hilda Solis, 1st District, also calls for the departments to increase the overall role relatives and non-related extended family members play in the lives of children in foster care. The goal is to establish a program that will identify family members with whom a child can be placed as soon as possible after a child is removed from an abusive or neglectful situation. The motion also calls for an examination of ways to coordinate the new program with existing county resources.
Assembly Bill 403, also known as California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR), will go into effect in January. The legislation requires that the county move away from placing children in long-term group homes and emphasizes placements in family settings. As a result, the county must not only continue to recruit foster families, but increase the ability to find relative and non-related extended family placements, Kuehl said.
“L.A. County has already proven that we know how to increase relative placements,” Kuehl said. “With the Continuum of Care Reform on the horizon and research indicating that children placed with relatives have better educational, health and behavioral outcomes, it’s a no-brainer to build on our success and establish and increase ways to reach more potential relative caregivers, more quickly.”
Currently, 53 percent of the approximately 18,000 children in foster care in Los Angeles County are placed in the homes of relatives, compared to 29 percent nationally and 40 percent statewide.
“While Los Angeles County exceeds the national rate for placing foster youth with relatives, there is always more work to be done to increase and support relative placements,” Solis said. “This motion provides a pathway to reduce delays in placing children with their relatives and to increase placement options, leading to better educational and health outcomes.”