All County Letter Changes to Requirements for Placement of Children 12 & Under in Group Homes
An All County Letter issued October 28, 2013, explained changes to the counties that would result from the passage of Assembly Bill 74, which restricts group home placements for children under the age of 12. Prior to the passage of AB 74, placement into group homes was restricted for children under the age of 6, and AB 74 extended these provisions to children between the ages of six and twelve. As a result of these changes, children under 12 can only be placed in a group home if the court finds that such placement is necessary to secure a complete and adequate evaluation, and such a placement cannot exceed 60 days unless a case plan has been developed which documents the need for additional time and has been approved. While the required approval previously came from the caseworker’s supervisor, under AB 74 this approval is required to come either from the deputy director or director of the county child welfare department or an assistant chief probation officer or chief probation officer from the county probation department.
In addition, AB 74 further limits group home placements for those children under the age of 6 who have a case plan documenting the need for additional time to 120 days, and only allows stays beyond 120 days when (1) the county has made progress towards or is actively working towards the implementation of the child’s case plan that identifies the services and supports necessary to transition the child to a family setting, (2) circumstances beyond the county’s control have prevented the county from obtaining those supports or services within the timeline documented in the case plan, and (3) the need for additional time is approved by the deputy director or director of the county child welfare department or an assistant chief probation officer or chief probation officer of the county probation department. Any group home placement extending over 120 days must be re-approved by one of the officials mentioned above at least every 60 days. These same provisions to placement in a group home for children six to twelve years of age, with the exception of limiting the placement period to six months instead of 120 days.