Santa Clara County Social Services Agency – Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS)
Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC) Redesign Project
Introduction and Background
Children who are removed from their homes due to parent, legal guardian or caregiver abuse or neglect experience a great deal of trauma as a result of the abuse or neglect incident, the investigative process, the removal process which occurs if they cannot be safely cared for in the home of the parent, legal guardian or caregiver, and what happens after they are removed. In some counties, these children are brought to a local shelter or receiving home facility where they stay for several hours or days. In other counties these children stay with a social worker at the local child welfare office, at a police station, or in a county vehicle until the worker can locate an emergency foster home for the child. Another approach to providing temporary care for these children, while also better addressing their needs, has evolved in the form of an assessment center, where children stay for a short period to be assessed, so that more thoughtful placements can be made on their behalf.
The Santa Clara County Social Services Agency, Department of Family and Children’s Services (DFCS) has been transitioning away from a residential shelter model to an assessment center model. In Santa Clara County, the current assessment center model is known as the Receiving, Assessment and Intake Center (RAIC). The RAIC operates as a 24 hour facility, 365 days a year. Children who are abused or neglected and are removed from their parents, legal guardians or caregivers and children who are in relative/Non-Relative Extended Family Member (NREFM), foster home or group home placements who experience a placement disruption and are pending a new placement likely will be brought to the RAIC as a transition point to another, more appropriate living arrangement (placement). The RAIC receives these children and supervises these children for up to 23 hours and 59 minutes, until they can be placed in an appropriate relative/Non-Relative Extended Family Member (NREFM), foster home or group home placement, or returned to the parent, legal guardian, or caregiver, if safe to do so. During the time that the children are at the RAIC, they have a social work and mental health assessment of their emotional, psychological, and behavioral needs and a medical assessment. While the children are at the RAIC, they are made comfortable, provided with snacks and meals, clean clothes, toys, are engaged in age appropriate activities, and can rest and sleep as needed.
In October 2009, the Santa Clara County Children’s Shelter facility ceased operating as a residential, licensed, facility and the RAIC began operating as a non-residential facility. In 2012, the property housing the old Children’s Shelter and the RAIC was sold and the RAIC relocated temporarily to its current location in January 2013. As the RAIC is in a temporary location, the opportunity has arisen to look at the long term direction and function of a RAIC model or of a new and different service model for better meeting children’s needs when they are removed due to abuse or neglect.
The purpose of the RAIC Redesign process is to develop and complete a Strategic Operational Plan and Feasibility Study. This will be achieved by obtaining information, examining, evaluating, identifying and developing a new service model for the functions of the receiving and assessment center in Santa Clara County. This will occur through the developmental and evolutionary process of obtaining key informant and stakeholder input from system partners, service partners, advisory stakeholders and internal DFCS staff to lift up information, perspectives, ideas, thinking, and solutions to provide options for short and long term planning. Ultimately, this will lead to the development of a service model for which a facility can be built or adapted to support the service model.
Through the development and completion of the Strategic Operational Plan and Feasibility Study for the receiving and assessment center process, a new service model will be developed and a facility will be built or adapted that will maximize and support the service model in providing critical and essential services to abuse and neglected children in an effective and efficient manner which is adaptive to children’s ages and needs, in a trauma informed and culturally sensitive manner, and consistent with the Child and Family Practice Model.
The goals of the Strategic Operational Plan and Feasibility Study will include:
Prepare a Needs Assessment on the children who are currently being served by the RAIC, which includes information such as age, gender, language spoken, ethnicity, sibling group information, city of residence, and placement information.
Obtain ongoing input from key informant, service, and stakeholder groups to identify issues, needs, solutions and develop recommendations.
Develop and implement a communications plan to ensure full involvement, sharing, availability, and transparency in the redesign process, planning, development and implementation of the new service model and possible facility to support the model.
Develop a new receiving and assessment service model that is child focused – flexible and adaptable to each child’s unique needs that is trauma informed, culturally sensitive and consistent with the Child and Family Practice Model.
Identify and incorporate key services and programs that are critical to the operations of a new receiving and assessment service model.
Identify infrastructure and systems changes that will be necessary to support and build success for a new service model.
Identify and incorporate key facilities design elements that will be necessary to support a new service model, should some sort of physical facility be necessary.
Identify a physical facility that will house a new service model for the receiving and assessment functions, should a new or adapted physical facility be necessary.