Fostering more love

New foster care legislation may mean positive changes for affected youth

Cynthia E. Griffin | 10/27/2016, midnight
California is less than three months away from one of the most sweeping changes to hit the child welfare system ...

The Stone bill is shifting the emphasis away from placing youth in group homes and leaving them there for longer than necessary. The push starting in 2017 is to try to insure that youngsters are properly placed at the beginning said Kim Renner, deputy director of administrative support for DCFS.

“At the lower, state, and the county levels, we are forcing different departments to work together and find common outcomes for youth in all of the system,” Renner said.

This means that youth who are part of the probation system or those who might need mental health service can be referred.

The end-game of the new changes are to get as many young people in family-style foster care enviorments like Troy and Deborah Cole have been offering to Palmdale area families, said the couple who began taking in foster youth more than five years ago.

The couple currently are certified foster families and have five children from the same family that they are fostering.

The Coles got involved in serving as foster parents after operating a child care center and wanting to do more to help. During their time a foster family, they have taken in 62 children, not counting emergency placements that range in age from 2 months to 7 years.

Deborah notes that, they even had one family where the mother and grandmother were involved in the foster care system. And those are the types of families they want to help.

The Coles do not expect their foster care service to change much because of AB403. They are already certified care givers. But they are worried about one factor that is of concern for many involved in the system—getting an adequate number of families to sign up and receive the training to qualify for what is expected to become a key part of the newly revamped system—as resource families.

Obtaining enough individuals to serve as resource families is definitely a concern for Phil Ladew, associate and legal director for California CASA Association. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), a national volunteer movement, begun in 1976.

CASA ensures that well-trained volunteers make sure that children’s voices are heard and provide judges with the necessary insight to make the best possible decisions.

In addition to making sure that an adequate supply of trained resource families are available, the DCFS had to revamp the payment system for foster families, and those providing care to relatives as well as and the limited number of group homes that will remain in the system.

Ladew said that better coordination needs to take place to make sure that young people can easily connect with the various supportive services that are available.