CAI's 2005-06 Legislative Priorities

The following is a summary of legislation that CAI sponsored or supported during 2005-06.

AB 2216 (Bass) creates the California Child Welfare Council, an advisory body that will be responsible for improving the collaboration and processes of the multiple agencies and courts that serve children and youth in the child welfare and foster care systems. This bill also requires the creation of judicial outcome measures by April 1, 2008. The goal of the bill is to correct the state’s failure to effectively coordinate services administered by a vast array of state and county agencies, thereby leaving children subject to injuries and without essential health, dental, mental health, housing and educational services. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 22 (Chapter 384, Statutes of 2006).

AB 2284 (Jones) would have required foster children to receive specified health and dental assessments and requires the Department of Health Services to extend Medi-Cal benefits to certain foster care adolescents to age 21. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2303 (Judiciary Committee). CAI sponsored the part of this Judicial Omnibus bill that allows, with regard to adoption and legal guardianship, a status review to be held earlier than every six months if the court determines that an earlier review is in the best interest of the child. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 28 (Chapter 567, Statutes of 2006).

AB 2480 (Evans) establishes a process for the appointment of appellate counsel for children in dependency proceedings. The bill is aimed at ensuring that, as a matter of due process, children have competent representation through all stages of the legal process. The measure also clarifies the law pertaining to the holding of patient-therapist/physician and penitent/clergy privilege, thus ensuring that these privileges can be appropriately protected for children in dependency proceedings. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 22 (Chapter 385, Statutes of 2006).

AB 2481 (Evans) would have increased grant payments for foster family home (FFH) providers and provides funding for the recruitment and retention of foster parents and adoptive parents. Specifically, this bill would have increased the foster family home provider grant by 5%; required future annual grant increases based upon the California Necessities Index; and expanded current foster parent recruitment and retention efforts by creating the Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment and Retention Program.STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2781 (Leno) regulates private child support collectors by, among other things, requiring them to meet some basic consumer protections in their dealings with support obligees in contracting for the collection of past-due child support, and prohibiting them from engaging in any debt collection practices that are prohibited by the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 29 (Chapter 797, Statutes of 2006).

AB 2938 (Runner) would have expanded what records can be released to the public in a case of child abuse or negligence that has resulted in a child fatality or near fatality.STATUS: Died in committee.

SB 437 (Escutia) establishes the Healthy Families Presumptive Eligibility Program for children who appear to meet the income requirements of Healthy Families and were receiving but are no longer eligible for Medi-Cal without a share of cost or are eligible for Medi-Cal with share of cost, and establishes the Medi-Cal to Healthy Families Accelerated Enrollment Program, subject to federal approval, to provide temporary benefits until a final eligibility determination is made for children applying for Medi-Cal who appear to be eligible for Healthy Families. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 19 (Chapter 328, Statutes of 2006).

SB 1289 (Cedillo) would have allowed persons to remain voluntarily in foster care until 21 years of age, if they are in attendance in university, community college, or vocational training on a full-time basis. STATUS: Died in committee.

SB 1335 (Soto) would have required the Department of Social Services to conduct annual unannounced licensing inspections of all residential facilities for children, including group homes and foster family homes. STATUS: Died in committee.

SB 1616 (Kuehl) would have required the Division of Juvenile Justice of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, to work with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health Services to ensure that disabled wards are enrolled in Medi-Cal and that their disability benefits are available to them when they are released from incarceration at a state institution. The bill would have ensured that disabled youth have critical health care and cash assistance immediately upon release, which would help promote their successful reentry into their communities. STATUS: The Governor vetoed this bill on September 29.

SB 1534 (Ortiz) permits a city, county, city and county, or hospital district to, at its discretion, provide aid, including health care, to persons who, but for Section 411 of the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 29 (Chapter 801, Statutes of 2006).

SB 1576 (Murray) would have eliminated the county share of the cost for transitional housing services for former foster youth between the ages of 18 and 24 subject to funding in the Budget. STATUS: Died in committee. Although the county share-of-cost for the THP-Plus program was eliminated through budget trailer legislation (AB 1808, Chapter 75), the state’s limited funding for this program means that DSS must limit new participation in the THP-Plus program.

SB 1641 (Soto) requires the Department of Social Services to report to the Legislature on the progress of its Community Care Licensing residential care regulation review. The measure defines a home that meets the best needs of the child to include a home that meets the child's health, safety, and well-being needs, is the least restrictive and most family-like environment, and allows the child to engage in reasonable, age-appropriate day-to-day activities, as specified. The bill require the foster child's caregiver to use a reasonable and prudent parent standard, as defined, to determine these age-appropriate activities. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 22 (Chapter 388, Statutes of 2006).

AB 379 (Koretz) would have made it an infraction for a person to smoke a pipe or cigarette in a vehicle, whether in motion or at rest, in which there is a child passenger who is required to be secured in a child passenger restraining system. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 1144 (Harman) requires the Department of Health Services (DHS) to adopt, and amend as necessary, its playground safety regulations in order to meet the current American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards for playground safety and other standards that relate to playground equipment, as specified. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 26 (Chapter 470, Statutes of 2006).

AB 1948 (Montañez) requires the Department of Health Services to conduct, or contract for the conducting of, a feasibility study report of technological requirements for modifying the Child Health and Disability Prevention Gateway to allow a person applying on behalf of a child the option to simultaneously pre-enroll and apply for enrollment in Medi-Cal or Healthy Families over the Internet without submitting a follow-up application. The ultimate goal of this measure is to eliminate some of the barriers in the application process that prevent eligible children from enrolling in public health coverage programs. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 19 (Chapter 332, Statutes of 2006).

AB 1953 (Chan) reduces the allowable lead content in pipes and plumbing fixtures to a level that would virtually eliminate lead contamination in faucets and drinking water systems, thus reducing the exposure to lead by children who depend upon tap water for their drinking water. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 30 (Chapter 853, Statutes of 2006).

AB 1983 (Bass) would have required the Department of Social Services to convene a workgroup of stakeholders, including county welfare directors, mental health and health organizations, local housing agencies, and employer and employee unions to identify services that are most useful to former foster youth and to make recommendations to improve outreach efforts to those youth. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2031 (Cohn) would have required the Department of Social Services (DSS) to work with stakeholders to draft best practices guidelines for using advanced technology to assist counties in identifying all relatives and non-relative extended family members for foster children. In most cases, placing children with relatives or extended family members increases the child's likelihood of successful outcomes. In counties that have voluntarily used advanced technology to identify relatives and non-relative extended family members, placement of children with loved ones has improved significantly.
STATUS: The Governor vetoed this bill on September 29.

AB 2108 (Evans) would have changed child passenger safety restraint laws to require children under eight to be placed in an appropriate child safety restraint system in the back seat, under specified circumstances. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has suggested that children who have outgrown car seats with an internal harness, usually at about age four, should be properly restrained in a seat belt positioning car seat until they are eight years of age, unless they are four feet nine inches or taller. Children who use car or booster seats instead of seat belts alone are 59% less likely to be injured if they are involved in an accident. STATUS: The Governor vetoed this bill on September 29.

AB 2193 (Alquist) would have established budgeting standards based on optimal caseload standards for the child welfare services program. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2205 (Evans) would have required the Department of Social Services to establish categorical eligibility for Food Stamps for Medi-Cal recipients who are eligible to receive CalWORKs services; eligibility for Food Stamps would also have triggered eligibility for school lunch participation. Thus, the measure would have simplified the process and avoided barriers to participation of low-income families and children in the Food Stamp and school meals programs. STATUS: The Governor vetoed this bill on September 30.

AB 2489 (Leno) would have enacted the Foster Youth Higher Education Preparation and Support Act of 2006. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2556 (Jones) would have declared that it is the goal of Legislature to halve child poverty by Jan. 1, 2016, and eliminate it entirely by Jan. 1, 2026. The bill also would have required the Department of Finance to report annually on how the Governor’s proposed budget will impact the goal of reducing child poverty. STATUS: The Governor vetoed this bill on September 30.

AB 2709 (Maze) would have directed the Franchise Tax Board, with the assistance of the Department of Social Services and the Employment Development Department, to prepare a study on the feasibility of developing a credit under the personal income and corporation tax laws to encourage employers to hire former foster youth. STATUS: Died in committee.

AB 2977 (Mullin) requires new and remodeled pools and spas to provide at least one safety feature from a list of eligible features, adds mesh fences and swimming pool alarms to the list of enumerated drowning prevention safety features, and requires remodeled pools and spas to cover drains with an anti-entrapment grate. Swimming pool drowning is the leading cause of injury death for toddlers ages one to four; over 50 children drown each year. For every fatality, there are four more near-drownings, with many of these victims suffering lifelong disability. STATUS: The Governor signed this bill on September 26 (Chapter 478, Statutes of 2006).