Hundreds of children enter California’s child welfare “system” each day—a system inadequately prepared to meet the needs of children who have suffered physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or severe neglect and trauma.
A recurrent criticism of California’s child welfare system is the failure to effectively coordinate services administered by a vast array of state and county agencies thereby leaving children subject to injuries and without essential health, dental, mental health, housing and educational services. Currently, collaboration among the many governmental and judicial bodies that impact the life of children is missing and California’s foster children continue to pay the price, developmentally, emotionally, and economically. Our child welfare system struggles to attend to children’s needs one piece at a time or not at all, a methodology that necessarily causes further harm to already traumatized children.
AB 2216 is an important part of the child welfare legislative package as it is the only bill addressing leadership and accountability across the many facets of the child welfare system. The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Jose Mercury News have both described the bill as the “linchpin” of the child the child welfare package for that reason. The Child Welfare Leadership and Performance Accountability Act of 2006, AB 2216 (Bass), would create the structure for accountability and collaboration by doing the following:
Creating a Child Welfare Council to be co-chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services Agency and the Supreme Court Chief Justice and on which would sit representatives from the many agencies, departments, judicial branch and stakeholder groups who are charged with serving children and families within the child welfare system to work collaboratively to address issues arising around child welfare and foster care and to advise on service delivery and outcomes including ways to strengthening the ombudsperson’s office;
Requiring the Judicial Council to adopt court performance measures that complement and promote the AB 636 performance measures, which would support improved court performance and reinforce the connection between the courts and the agencies providing service to the youth.
There is a multitude of urgent problems confronting children and youth in foster care that are often approached piecemeal. However, unless there is a strong structure for leadership and accountability for all who touch the lives of the children and families, the problems will remain unresolved. Change will not happen until all parts of our now-fractured system work together to break down existing obstacles and craft an improved way of doing business. Enhanced leadership and collaboration will enable our state to turn the corner and improve outcomes for the children our state undertakes to parent.
For additional information, please contact:
- Curt Child, National Center for Youth Law, 916-444-2290
- Miriam Krinsky, Children’s Law Center, 323-980-1712
- Christina Riehl, Center for Public Interest Law, 619-260-4806