SACRAMENTO, Calif. —
Summary: Probation officers can help advocate for the foster children they supervise.
Current Law: Right now, before a foster child can be uprooted to a different home, a social worker or placing agency works with everyone involved to create a “placement preservation strategy.” This is a game plan to address everyone’s needs and hopefully resolve conflict. If the placement preservation strategy doesn’t end up being enough and it’s later determined that it’s necessary to relocate the child, the social worker or placing agency gives written notice to all parties involved at least two weeks in advance. Existing law requires complaints under be investigated by the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson. Think of ombuds as advocates and watchdogs that keep tabs on foster children and investigate placement issues. Then, the office provides the findings to the county child welfare director or their designee.
What’s new: The new law extends these rights to foster kids that are on supervised probation. That means a social worker or probation officer would work with the caregiver to create a placement preservation strategy rather than a placing agency. If the child is over 10 years old, they’d be involved in the mediation process as well their attorney. By adding to these new duties of probation officers, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program. In the new bill, “resource families” are now called “foster caregivers.”
Why it’s needed: The hope is that foster children wouldn’t be moved around from foster home to foster home without an unavoidable, necessary reason. Abruptly rehoming a foster child doesn’t provide a child with much stability. If a transfer is deemed necessary, the parties would all have a 14-day notice and the transfer wouldn’t occur overnight (from 9 p.m to 7 a.m.) unless all parties agree with it. Also, it makes sense that foster children in the juvenile detention system would have their supervised probation officer involved in their rehoming strategy that possibly knows their unique situation better.
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