In September 2012 the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) began working with stakeholders to reform the state’s congregate care system, emphasizing that children and families are best served when children live with a committed, permanent, and nurturing family.
Congregate care, when necessary, is best used as a short-term, high-quality intervention that is part of a continuum of care for children and youth. Congregate care in California is no longer a destination, rather, an intervention tailored to meet the needs of the individual child being served.
The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has developed a procedure for identifying youth who have been placed in group homes for one year or longer, to determine the need for the continued stay, or if appropriate, to develop a plan to transition to a family like setting.
The CDSS is mandated to report to the California Legislature on the assessment of each youth placed in a group home for longer than one year and the outcomes of transitional planning for each youth, if applicable.
Semi-annually, the CDSS will use information contained in CWS/CMS to provide a list of children/youth that have been placed in one or more group homes for the past year. Each child/youth on the list shall be reassessed to determine whether or not their placement in group home care remains suitable and appropriate based upon their identified needs and strengths.
The assigned social worker is encouraged to utilize existing assessment tools (e.g., the Child and Family Practice Model, etc.) to identify the child’s/youth’s current service needs and strengths.
If the reassessment determines that the child/youth no longer requires a group home placement, the assigned social worker shall develop a plan of transition to a lower level of care that is best suited to meet the needs of the child/youth. The social worker is encouraged to hold a Team Decision Making Meeting to assist in facilitating the proper step down placement.
The lists will identify:
- Children/Youth that currently have an open foster care episode who have been living in the same group home for over 365 consecutive days.
- Children/Youth that have been in group home placements with breaks in placement (i.e. AWOLs) and returned to group home placements within the same placement episode for a total stay of 365 cumulative days (or more) when added together. These will include notation of the Total Days in Care and Total Group Home Placements.