Governor Signs Beall Bill Saving Foster Family Agencies

July 26, 2011

Assembly Bill 159, legislation that preserves foster family agencies during an era of budget deficits and cuts, was signed into law by Gov. Brown. The bill goes into effect on Jan. 1.

"I'm very pleased Governor Brown shares my commitment to do everything possible in these difficult times to protect our foster children," said Assemblymember Jim Beall, who introduced the bill on Jan. 19.

"Budget cuts to Child Welfare Services are straining the foster care system, which is designed to provide care and services for abused and neglected children. Foster children who require more intensive care are especially vulnerable. AB 159 provides foster family agencies with additional operational flexibility without which some would be forced to close."

AB 159 postpones the Jan. 1, 2012 mandate for foster family agencies to adopt a ratio of one full-time social work supervisor for each six social workers and allows the current 1-to-8 ratio to exist until funding improves.

Foster family agencies are defined as non-profit organizations that train recruit, train, certify, and provide support for foster parents who care for children with intensive care needs as an alternative group home placement. These license agencies are frequently used by counties to place children who need a higher level of care.

The bill postpones the mandate until the state is able to fully restore payments to licensed foster family agencies at a level equivalent to the rate paid on Sept. 30, 2009. The rate was cut by 10 percent in October 2009 as part of a cost-cutting move to help balance the state deficit.

Prior to this reduction, rates had been frozen for 14 out of the last 20 fiscal years, further eroding the capacity of foster family agencies to cover the cost of care and social work for foster children to just 70 percent of what it was in 1990.

Beall serves as chairman of the Assembly Select Committee on Foster Care.

Contact: Rodney Foo (408) 282-8920