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?
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.
Hi, I’m Lauryn Barbosa and I am a second-year student at Santa Clara University School of Law. I was born and raised in the Bay Area and received a B.A. in Intercultural Peace and Justice Studies, with a minor in History, at Holy Names University in Oakland. During my undergraduate studies, I was exposed to, and became passionate about, social justice. What I learned about the injustice of our criminal “justice” system, coupled with the experiences of members of my family affected by that system, drove me to attend law school. I hope to become an attorney to advance social justice by representing indigent clients in criminal defense.
Throughout this policy seminar, I will be exploring the role that the police and the Agency ― the majority of California counties refer to Child Protective Services under that moniker ― play in the removal of children and how reliance on its discretion results in an inconsistent application of the law. In 2018, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held in Demaree v. Pedersonthat “there is no qualified immunity for investigators who remove children from a home without a warrant or immediate threat of serious physical harm to the child at all.” In this instance, a couple appealed an order of summary judgment in favor of a social worker who was alleged to have committed a violation of their constitutional rights. The couple faced criminal charges and their children were removed from their home for a month after a Wal-Mart photo technician reported photos of their children in the bathtub. A police officer made an unsubstantiated recommendation that the children were being sexually abused, which the social worker decided was determinative ― even though the children underwent medical exams for sexual trauma that came back normal and there was no other evidence. While this decision was essential for accountability and should be celebrated, this is just one instance in a sea of many where the state’s intervention did much more harm than good.
mentioned above, local agencies retain broad discretion, under California
Health and Institutions Code § 300, to remove children and this often leads
to inconsistent application of the rules, especially when it comes to substance
abuse related neglect. This is the niche area I will hone in on. Because every
family situation is unique, I understand the necessity of some discretion on
the part of the government agencies. However, I believe this unbridled
discretion has created a culture where children are either snatched away from
their families and placed in foster care preemptively or suffer serious harm or
death because the state refuses to step in. There has to be a way to develop
better statutory and policy standards that can hold the Agency and the police
accountable before the only relief available is a lawsuit, since at that point
the damage is already done and the trauma has already been inflicted.
This area is of particular interest to me because I have witnessed the lives of children be severely impacted by the decisions of the police and the Agency in this exact area and the courses of action were drastically different in each case. While the cases I witnessed first-hand will not be the focus of my research, I will use other cases to compare the facts and identify patterns in the actions of the Agency and police officers regarding the removal of children. I will also use current police manuals and policy guides to demonstrate the issues with current protocol. I am intending to use those patterns and current policy guides to formulate policy recommendations that will provide for a more consistent application of the state’s obligation to protect children under California Health and Institutions Code § 300.