Report 2011-101.1 Recommendations and Responses in 2014-041

Report 2011-101.1: Child Welfare Services: California Can and Must Provide Better Protection and Support for Abused and Neglected Children

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2013-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Department of Social Services 3 20 11 10 10

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that its licensees, including state-licensed foster homes, foster family agencies, and group homes, are in compliance with applicable requirements and that children are protected, Social Services should complete on-site reviews at least once every five years as required by state law.

Response

Out of 4,913 Children's Residential Facilities statewide, there are only six foster family homes with overdue five-year visits statewide and, of these, five have no children in placement. The CDSS inspects most facilities more frequently than once every five years, and continues to develop and implement efficiencies and training for licensing staff. CDSS will achieve close to 100 percent of all required five year visits. The Department believes that its current 99.8 percent is as close to its goal as possible, given statutory requirements and varying circumstance. With other licensing categories, CDSS conducts unannounced inspections, thus having within its span of control five-year visits. However, in accordance with statute, CDSS staff must contact, schedule and negotiate visit dates with foster families, even those with whom no children are placed.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage more effective communication from county CWS agencies regarding its licensees, Social Services should specify in regulations what types of situations or allegations the agencies should forward to its licensing division.

Response

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons listed below.

Previous Response: The Department released All County Letter (ACL) 12-42 in September 2012, to highlight the CWS agencies' responsibility to cross-report instances of child abuse and/or neglect to the appropriate licensing agency when the alleged abuse occurred in a licensed facility. The ACL reminds county welfare agencies that they have a fundamental obligation to protect and care for children removed from their homes due to abuse and/or neglect. As a result, cross-reporting abuse in out-of-home care is critical to ensure child safety and consistency in reporting.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To ensure that rates paid to foster family agencies are appropriate, Social Services should analyze the rates and provide reasonable support for each component, especially the 40 percent administrative fee it currently pays these agencies.

Response

Partially Corrected. CDSS has reviewed the foster family agencies (FFA) rate structure through the Continuum of Care Reform efforts. The framework and revised FFA rate structure will be discussed in the Legislative Report due for release in October 2014.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should create and monitor compliance with clear requirements specifying that children placed with foster family agencies must have elevated treatment needs that would require a group home placement if not for the existence of these agencies' programs. Specifically, Social Services should revise its regulations so licensed foster homes have higher priority than foster family agencies for children that do not have identified treatment needs.

Response

Partially Corrected. The Administration agrees with this recommendation and is currently having discussions to address the issues in conjunction with Continuum of Care Reform efforts.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should require county CWS agencies to file in CWS/CMS a detailed justification for any child placed with a foster family agency.

Response

Partially Corrected. With the implementation of the recommendations contained in the Continuum of Care Reform's (CCR) report to the Legislature caseworkers will assess and document the needs of each child to determine the level of services required and the appropriate placement setting that will meet that child's identified needs. It is anticipated that this process will be operational in 2017. Development of new assessment will include instructions to counties and mechanisms for oversight.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: October 2017
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

Social Services should create a mechanism by which it can efficiently check for compliance with the needs-justification requirement.

Response

See Recommendation 5.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: October 2017
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage continued progress and innovation in keeping children safe, Social Services should add to its current CWS performance metrics a measure of the percentage of investigatory visits (both immediate and 10-day) completed on time that excludes attempted investigatory visits from its calculation of successful outcomes.

Response

Partially Corrected. CDSS agrees with the recommendation. This item continues to be in process. Through a state/county workgroup, CDSS has developed a new outcome measure that calculates completed in-person investigatory contacts with a child, and that excludes attempted visits. It is anticipated that the new measure will be published on the California Child Welfare Indicators Project in spring of 2015. CDSS is providing a new data report to counties that assists in managing and identifying referrals that are timely due to attempted contacts. Additionally, CDSS will be sending out an All County Information Notice (ACIN) in October 2014 that provides information about best practice for completing timely investigations.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: August 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To determine whether the hold harmless provision has been effective in reducing caseloads and whether it should be revised or rescinded, Social Services should refine and use CWS/CMS to calculate and report county CWS caseloads.

Response

The CDSS does not agree with this finding, as the state's hold harmless policy does not significantly influence caseload for the CWS program. There are significant variations on how county programs assign workers based on tasks or cases, and the state also does not have access to county staffing levels at consistent points in time that could be used for statewide reporting. County staffing levels also are not included in the CWS/CMS system.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To encourage county CWS agencies to conduct formal internal death reviews, Social Services should revise its annual report on child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect to provide information on whether county CWS agencies conducted such a review of child deaths with prior CWS history. To obtain this information, Social Services should revise its regulations to require all county CWS agencies to not only report child deaths resulting from abuse or neglect but to also require a subsequent report indicating whether an internal child death review was completed.

Response

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons noted below.

CDSS agrees that there is great value in counties conducting child death reviews. Whereas the annual statewide report is an appropriate vehicle for reporting statewide data and systemic issues, it is not an appropriate mechanism for reporting local, county-specific data and issues such as 1) compliance or consistency in the completion of local child death reviews or 2) local systemic issues requiring local change as identified as a result of such reviews. Rather, local systemic issues are best addressed through the County Self Assessment (CSA) and System Improvement Plan (SIP) processes. Accordingly, CDSS has incorporated, within updates to the manual for the CSA processes in the California Child and Family Services Review, instructions for a county to include systematic issues that arise from child death reviews and the process by which counties participate in local child death review team, if applicable, into a county's SIP.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Social Services, Department of

To provide more useful information in its annual report, Social Services should provide child death information broken out by county, not just statewide totals. Further, Social Services should provide more analysis, such as comparing child death information over multiple years and presenting each county's child deaths as a percentage of its total child population.

Response

The CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation for the reasons noted below.

Previous Response: County-specific information already is available from each county, and each county is required to review fatalities and near-fatalities due to abuse or neglect. That analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require the need for policy or practice changes on behalf of the county staff. The purpose of the state-level report is to analyze statewide trends and provide this information in the context of statewide policy. The annual reporting process and product is still in its infancy. The state has only been producing the annual report per Senate Bill (SB) 39 for two years, and reporting requirements have varied throughout the years prior to enactment of SB 39. However, as more data becomes available, it is appropriate to expect that the CDSS and its county partners will be analyzing that data to develop any needed data reporting and policy changes.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2014

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2014-041