Report 2011-101.1 Recommendations and Responses in 2015-041

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 2014-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Department of Social Services 4 20 11 10 8

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

CDSS continues its efforts to change state statutes and regulations, and to revise and establish a new foster family agency rate methodology to be implemented as part of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). These ongoing reform efforts also will establish a process to make placement decisions based on the needs of a child or youth and not on the placement type. Moreover, CDSS continues its work with stakeholders, counties, and foster care providers to revise the rate structure, so that it is relevant and comprehensive and aligned with the requirements of CCR and Assembly Bill 403.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

CDSS continues its efforts to change state statutes and regulations, and to revise and establish a new foster family agency rate methodology to be implemented as part of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). These ongoing reform efforts also will establish a process to make placement decisions based on the needs of a child or youth and not on the placement type. Moreover, CDSS continues its work with stakeholders, counties, and foster care providers to revise the rate structure, so that it is relevant and comprehensive and aligned with the requirements of CCR and Assembly Bill 403.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

CDSS continues its efforts to change state statutes and regulations, and to revise and establish a new foster family agency rate methodology to be implemented as part of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). These ongoing reform efforts also will establish a process to make placement decisions based on the needs of a child or youth and not on the placement type. Moreover, CDSS continues its work with stakeholders, counties, and foster care providers to revise the rate structure, so that it is relevant and comprehensive and aligned with the requirements of CCR and Assembly Bill 403.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Not Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

CDSS is in full compliance and has conducted all required five-year on-site reviews on 4,563 Children's Residential Facilities statewide as of October 1, 2015. All homes had visits scheduled to be completed by September 24, 2015. CDSS inspects most facilities more frequently than every five years, and continues to develop and implement efficiencies and training for licensing staff. Over the past year the Department has conducted 99.8 percent of five year visits on time.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: September 2015
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

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

Prior Response: The Department released All County Letter (ACL) 12-42 in September 27, 2012 (see link below), 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.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwia-cPDlrPIAhXQT4gKHYk2AGc&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdss.ca.gov%2Flettersnotices%2Fentres%2Fgetinfo%2Facl%2F2012%2F12-42.pdf&usg=AFQjCNH6l7n6NDJqusdGp5WIL3zJnV1VKw&bvm=bv.104615367,d.cGU

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

CDSS published All County Information Notice (ACIN) I-52-14 on September 9, 2014 (see link below), which provides best practice information for completing timely investigations. CDSS also developed a new outcome measure that provides completed in-person investigatory contacts with a child, and excludes attempted visits. Effective June 2015, the new measure, called "Referrals by Timeliness to Investigations - Completed," is now published on the California Child Welfare Indicators Project website, and provides retrospective performance, both statewide and county-specific, on the measure dating back to July 1, 2003. CDSS has also added a data report to SafeMeasures©, the subscription-based business intelligence tool used by most counties, which assists counties with the identification and tracking of case management tasks and outcomes in granular detail.

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwi17Pacl7PIAhUHlogKHRRiAgU&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dss.cahwnet.gov%2Flettersnotices%2FEntRes%2Fgetinfo%2Facin%2F2014%2FI-52_14.pdf&usg=AFQjCNHbLyLC48D-9DLwOnLBCRMCLrlF7Q&bvm=bv.104615367,d.cGU

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented
  • Completion Date: July 2015
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

CDSS continues to disagree with this finding, as the state's hold harmless policy does not significantly influence caseload for the Child Welfare Services 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 2015

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

CDSS continues to disagree with this recommendation. Reasons for disagreement along with actions taken in response to the recommendations are described below. CDSS agrees that there is great value in counties conducting child death reviews, but continues to disagree with the recommendation that the annual statewide child fatality report should be used to encourage or monitor such reviews. CDSS issued All County Information Notice I-45-12 on September 21, 2012 (attachment emailed) to encourage counties to 1) review cases of child deaths that are determined to be the result of abuse and/or neglect in which the child/family was known to and/or received services from the county CWS agency, or had prior CWS history; 2) annually reconcile the CWS agency's child death information with data from other entities that review child deaths, such as county child death review teams (CDRT); and 3) participate in meetings of local CDRTs when the opportunity is available. 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 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 CDRT, if applicable, into a county's SIP. An update to the manual was released in All County Letter 13-93, issued on December 9, 2013 (attachment emailed).

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

Partially Implemented. CDSS agrees that the annual report can be made more useful by including additional analysis such as comparing child fatality data over several years. Now that the Department has had multiple years collecting the same information on child fatalities, CDSS is including trend analysis in the annual report. CDSS has partially implemented the recommendation by including additional analysis of child fatality data such as comparisons of fatalities over time, analysis of primary and secondary individuals responsible and analysis of child welfare services (CWS) involvement with the family. CDSS has identified policy and prevention strategies in response to its data analysis. Further refinement will continue as CDSS identifies systemic issues, trends and gathers additional evidence to support policy and prevention strategies prospectively.

CDSS continues to disagree with the recommendation to improve the annual child fatality report by including county specific information. County specific analysis is best left to each county, for a local analysis of any systemic indicators that would require of 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.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Will Not Implement
  • Response Date: October 2015

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

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2015-041