Continuum of Care Reform Takes Effect
31st of January 2017
On January 1, the long-awaited Continuum of Care Reform began throughout California. The Continuum of Care Reform (CCR) effort, which is implemented by Assembly Bill 403, is designed to make sure that youth in foster care have their day-to-day physical, mental and emotional needs met; that they have the greatest chance to grow up in permanent homes; and that they have the opportunity to grow into self-sufficient, successful adults. In other words, the reform effort is attempting to provide for foster children exactly what it is that parents provide their own children.
Resource Family vs. Foster Family:
Families who now provide foster care will be known as resource families and will be provided targeted training and support so that they are better prepared to care for the children living with them. The reform effort also advances California’s long-standing goal to move away from the use of long-term group home care by increasing placements with resource families. Existing group home care will now be transformed into Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTP), where youth who are not ready to live with families can receive short-term, intensive treatment.
The term “continuum of care” refers to the spectrum of care settings for youth in foster care, from the least restrictive and least service-intensive to the most restrictive and most service-intensive. For example, a placement with an individual foster family or an extended family member would be least restrictive, and a placement in a group home with mental health treatment and limits on when the youth could leave the facility would be the most restrictive.
To better meet the needs of children in foster care and to promote positive outcomes, the CCR implements the following:
- Updates the assessment process so that the first placement is the right one.
- Establishes core services and supports for foster youth, their families, and resource families;
- Strengthens training and qualifications for resource families providing care to foster youth and congregate care facility staff;
- To the extent that the children are provided needed services and support, transitions children from congregate care into home-based family care with resource families;
- Transforms group homes into a new category of congregate care facility defined as Short-Term Residential Treatment Programs;
- Revises the foster care rate structure;
- Requires STRTPs and treatment foster family agencies to be certified by counties through their mental health plans;
- Requires foster family agencies and STRTPs to be nationally accredited.
- Evaluates foster family agency performance measures and outcomes.
What does this mean for the Trinity Foster Family and Adoption Agency and for the foster parents currently certified by the agency?
It means, first and foremost, that the agency and resource parents will be better able to meet the needs of the foster children. Better assessments will mean better matches for children when placed. Resource parents will be better trained to help meet the needs of the children in their care. More services and supports will be available to help children when they experience difficulty. Eventually, the state will implement a new rate structure that will assist agencies and resource parents to provide the proper services and supports to children.
There will be a new Resource Family Approval process:
The good news is that current foster family who were approved before January 1 are certified to provide care. There are only a few current foster parents who are not dually certified for both foster care and adoption, and there is a plan in place to have them certified by state deadlines. The new Resource Family Approval process has new requirements for training that Trinity will ensure its families receive.
Trinity currently meets all of requirements under the CCR:
Trinity is nationally accredited by the Council on Accreditation and has been since 2014. Trinity is also mentally health certified in both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. Trinity has also submitted its new Program Statement to change its group homes to STRTPs and has also updated and submitted its Program Statement for foster care to the State. Trinity has for a number of years used evidence based practices and tracks performance measure and outcomes.
Should you have questions about the CCR or resource parent requirements, please contact your local office director or social worker.
John Neiuber, Chief Executive Officer
John is the chief executive officer of Trinity Youth Services. With programs in two states, he leads an agency that serves over 500 children and families daily through residential treatment services, mental health programs, foster care agency and adoption services. He received both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from California State University, San Bernardino. In 1993, he became the CEO of Advanced Education Services, a not-for-profit corporation that operated nonpublic and charter schools. He became the chief operating officer of Trinity Youth Services in 2002 and CEO in 2005.