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Child Protective Services Realignment Fact Sheet

What are Child Protective Services?

Child Protective Services (CPS) comprise an array of programs designed to protect vulnerable children from abuse and neglect. CPS include:
Child Welfare Services (CWS) investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect and provides case management and support services to children and their families. Foster Care provides out-of-home placement for children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. A Foster Care placement can be with either an individual family or a group home setting. Children in Foster Care may eventually be reunified with their parents, placed in adoption or guardianship when family reunification is not possible, and a small number of youth age out of the foster care system. The Department of Social Services (DSS) estimates the average monthly Foster Care caseload for 2011-12 to be approximately 48,000 Adoptions Program has two components: (1) the Relinquishment (or Agency) Adoptions Program, which provides services to facilitate the adoption of children in foster care about 7,000 children are adopted from foster care annually through county child welfare agencies, state CDSS adoptions and private adoption agencies and (2) the Independent Adoptions Program, which provides adoption services to birth parents and adoptive parents when both agree on placement. Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) provides monthly cash grants to parents who adopt children from Foster Care. Virtually all children being adopted out of the Foster Care program are eligible for and receive AAP benefits. The DSS estimates the average monthly caseload for 2011-12 to be approximately 88,000.i

County Child Protective agencies administer the CPS program in each California county, while the California Department of Social Services is the single state agency responsible to the federal government for the operation of CPS. Until 2011-12, CPS had been a joint federal, state, local financial responsibility with the federal government paying 50% or more of the share of cost for federally eligible children (depending upon the program or subprogram), and the state and counties splitting the non-federal share of cost for both federally eligible and non-federally eligible children. In 2011-12, the full non-federal share of cost for CPS was realigned from the state to the counties.
What does it mean that CPS was realigned to counties?

In California, realignment occurs when the State transfers responsibility and funding for certain programs and services from the state to the counties. During the first realignment in 1991, counties assumed a much greater share of cost for CPS than they had provided prior to Proposition 13, and a portion of state sales tax and Vehicle License Fee revenue was shifted to the counties to help pay the increased county share. The 2011 realignment shifts 100% of the responsibility for paying the non-federal share of cost for CPS to counties from the state. Like the 1991 realignment, CPS is just one of a host of state programs for adults and children, for protective services, mental health, and corrections realigned to the county level under the rubric of Public Safety, with the promise of increased local control. CPS, however, come to counties with complex federal and state requirements and constraints which are monitored by the California Department of Social Services and reported to the Federal Government.

Federal Child Welfare Funding

California receives a share of its child welfare funding from the Federal Government. This funding comes with specified performance measures, oversight and the risk of fiscal penalties for failure to meet standards.
Title IV-B, Subparts 1 and 2, of the Social Security Act provides capped annual grants to States and Indian tribes for programs directed toward the goals of assuring the safety of children and keeping vulnerable families together. Subpart 1 comprises the Child Welfare Services Program, while Subpart 2 is known as Promoting Safe and Stable Families. The stated purpose of Subpart 1 is to promote State flexibility in the development and expansion of a coordinated child and family services program that utilizes community-based agencies [an often overlooked qualifier] and ensures all children are raised in safe, loving families. Services provided under Title-IVB include child abuse investigation, family maintenance, family preservation, Kinship Support Services, family resource center programs, and others. Title IV-E of the Social Security Act, also known as the Federal Foster Care Program, helps to provide safe and stable out-of-home care for children until they are safely returned home, placed permanently with kin guardians or adoptive families, or placed in other planned arrangements for permanency. The Title IV-E Foster Care and Adoption Assistance Programs (AAP) are open-ended entitlements, meaning that California receives reimbursement for a share of the cost from the federal government for every eligible claim submitted. The State, and now local jurisdictions must serve all children and youth eligible for these programs and the amount of claims is not capped at the Federal level. The Foster Care Program reimburses states for expenditures in three categories: (1) maintenance payments that cover the costs of shelter, food, clothing and supervision for eligible children in foster care (including group home care) and kin guardianship; (2) foster care administration which may include activities such as case-planning and some pre-placement services, SACWIS (federal case reporting), and eligibility determination, and include costs for county caseworker salaries and other general overhead and administration; and (3) expenses related to training for staff and foster parents. Expenditures in AAP are classified into three categories: (1) adoption assistance payments to eligible families; (2) adoption placement services and administrative costs related to adoptions from foster care; and (3) expenses related to training for staff and adoptive parents. With adoption of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, and its California counterpart AB 12, foster youth will be able to voluntarily remain in care with federal financial support until age 21.

The Adoptions and Safe Families Act of 1995, for the first time began holding states accountable for achievement of increasingly positive foster care outcomes in the areas of safety, permanency and the wellbeing of foster children. States are subject to review every four years by the federal Administration for Children and Families.
Role of the California Department of Social Services

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS), under realignment, retains its role as the reporting agency to the federal government, acting as the intermediary, reporting outcomes and progress on the state plan, licensing foster care providers, and foster care rates setting. It is not yet clear how CDSS will manage penalty assessments should counties fail to reach performance goals but it is possible it will simply pass penalties on to poor performing counties. CDSS will also remain in charge of the Child Welfare Services Case Management System (CWS/CMS) and the licensing of Foster Care placements.
March 28, 2012
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The Office of the Legislative Analyst, Child Welfare Realignment (2011)