I. Current Landscape
good news is that California as a state recognizes
the importance of implementing a trauma informed approach to child
welfare cases. Assembly
Bill 2083 was approved by Governor Brown at the end of 2018. The
bill provides a continuum of care provision, which means that foster children
will no longer be aged out
of the system, and provisions for counties to ensure that foster
care placements are actually equipped with training to deal with children who
have trauma. The legislation is focused on creating case plans or placements
that are tailored to the specific needs of each child, since we know that children entering
the system have been through life events that create long-lasting trauma.
my view, AB
2083 establishes the threshold for a state-wide approach to child
dependency. Assemblyman Ken Cooley, who introduced this legislation, asserts
that the bill does the following:
- Sets the expectation for coordinated services at the local level for youth who require services from multiple agencies through formalized Memorandums of Understanding.
- Requires the Secretary of Health and Human Services and Superintendent of Public Instruction to establish a joint inter-agency resolution team at the State level with certain responsibilities, including but not limited to, providing technical assistance to county agencies to establish local MOUs, and link youth to needed services.
- Requires the interagency team to review the availability of appropriate placements (from family homes to congregate care) that are trained and/or supported to provide trauma-informed care to foster youth and make recommendations to the Legislature for improvements in this area.
- Requires the interagency team to consult with stakeholders, including practitioners, to develop a plan to increase the availability of trauma-informed services to youth in care.
All of these things are great and a step in the right direction, but what if there were state-wide Memoranda of Understanding that each county agreed upon that addressed the needs of families before children are removed and placed in foster care? Why are there not interagency teams established by the Secretary of Health and Human Services to link parents to drug treatment programs, housing opportunities, child care and job training so that families have the tools to create healthy environments for themselves and their children?
Continue reading “A State-Wide Trauma-Informed Care Approach: Implementation of Stricter Guidelines for Discretion in Child Welfare Cases and a Shift Towards Family Services in the Early Stages”
In the past 20 years, doctors and public
healthcare professionals have uncovered a clear link between poor adult health
and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). According to the Substance
Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are “stressful or traumatic events,
including abuse and neglect. They may also include household dysfunction such
as witnessing domestic violence or growing up with family members who have
substance abuse disorders.” ACEs not only lead to early morbidity, but they
also have been found to promote participation in maladaptive, “high-risk,”
In the United States, adults who have
experienced 6 or more ACEs during their childhood are 24.36 times more likely
to attempt suicide than a person without ACEs. According to the 2017
article from the International Journal of Child Abuse and Neglect,
not only are adults with high ACE scores likely to attempt suicide, but they
are also 3.73 times more likely to use illegal drugs, 2.84 times more likely to
engage in heavy alcohol use, and 2.73 times more likely to suffer from
Unfortunately, adults who suffer from drug
addictions and alcohol abuse are not less likely to have children than their
peers. Instead, they become families with adult caregivers who suffer from drug
and alcohol addictions. At a certain point, when the substance abuse is unmanageable,
law enforcement and Child Protective Services will intervene in the best
interest of the child. If the parent is unable to cure their addiction, their
child will join nearly 52,000
other youth who are in California’s Foster Care System.
Continue reading “Unpacking Adverse Childhood Experiences and the Impact on Foster Care Youth”
There are not enough foster homes in the United States, and there haven’t been enough for a long time. When I first started researching the state of foster care, I encountered article after article about the national foster home shortage. The takeaway seemed to be this: there is a really serious trend of more kids needing care and fewer foster homes nationwide. While the data does show this to be true, all the articles seem to be missing a pretty crucial piece of information. If there aren’t enough homes, where are the kids going? I reached a lot of dead ends trying to answer this question. What I eventually found is arguably the most important part of this story: the foster home shortage may have eventually led to an increased focus on placing kids with their relatives.
Continue reading “Families and the National Foster Home Shortage”
name is Willa Mankins and I am currently a second-year law student at Santa
Clara University. I was born in Virginia, but I have lived in California for
the last 10 years and fallen in love with the state. I am the first member of
my family to go to law school, and I picked this career path to be an advocate
and have my ideas and thoughts be heard on a larger scale.
law school, I received two degrees during my four years at Mills College: a
B.S. in Biopsychology and a B.A. in English Literature. My degree in
Biopsychology helped me to understand that what happens to us mentally always
affects us physically. In particular, I learned about various psychological
disorders and became interested, in particular, in the causes and treatments
for traumas and disorders diagnosed in children. Foster children are a prime
example of how early trauma can result in permanent mental health challenges.
For example, foster children experience PTSD, depression, and anxiety at 4 times the rate of the general
population. These diagnoses affect every aspect of their lives and,
unfortunately, can lead to contact with the juvenile
this semester, I am hoping to educate myself, and provide information for
others, on the mental trauma that foster children undergo from being in the
system. I am driven to understand and explore how the foster system we have
created, which is intended to benefit and protect these children, is instead
perpetuating generations of mentally scarred and substance-dependent youths. I want
to use this opportunity to try to identify the flaws in the services currently
provided in California that create a lack of access to mental health services
and result in a pattern of substance abuse in foster youth.
the foster care system was created with the best interests of the children in
mind, it (like all government programs) needs to be critiqued and updated to
ensure it actually services the population it is intended to protect. I am
excited to provide an analysis on the current system that may lead to future
improvements and create more dialogue about this issue in our community.
Approximately 71% of jail inmates in California are pretrial detainees. Pretrial detention is supposed to be limited to individuals who pose a risk to public safety or are unlikely to return for their court date. About 17% of people entering the nation’s local jails for pretrial detention meet the criteria for serious mental illness. In many communities, people with mental illnesses remain in jail for considerably longer than those without mental illnesses, despite facing similar charges and posing no more of a flight risk or danger to society. Pretrial incarceration of the mentally ill results in a reduced chance of recovery and stability in the community and is a large cost on taxpayers. In some areas, pretrial inmates wait months for court-ordered mental health services, which can be detrimental to their recovery. As of 2015, Santa Clara County Jail reported having six full-time psychiatrists for the approximately 1,300 inmates with mental disabilities. There are about 139 beds for inmates with severe mental disabilities. What happens to the other 1,161 inmates in need of mental health treatment? What impact does pretrial incarceration have on their mental health? What can we do to save taxpayers money and avoid propagating mental illness in the criminal justice system? These are the questions I will be attempting to answer this semester in Criminal Law and Policy.
My name is Arielle Hostetler and I am a Bay Area native. At the University of California-Santa Cruz, I studied the intersection of psychology and law. There I learned that the justice system had the ability to create a more equal society because it came into contact with the people who needed the most help. But, instead, the justice system has failed on its promise to control crime, reduce suffering, and rehabilitate. Before law school I worked at the Santa Cruz Public Defender’s Office, the International Rescue Committee, the Peace Corps in China, and the Atlanta office of the American Civil Liberties Union. I am currently a 2L at Santa Clara University School of Law, where I hope to use my real-world experience and academic background to effect change in the criminal justice system.