New California Laws 2016

Hundreds of new California laws took effect on Jan. 1. Capital Public Radio looked at the tangible impacts of these laws on the lives of Californians.

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Supporters Of New Law: Let's Find Homes, Not Group Homes, For Foster Kids

Jae C. Hong / AP

In this Tuesday, April 14, 2015 photo, Madison Rodriguez looks at her phone while standing by a window at Beachwood House, a group home for foster kids in Los Angeles.

Jae C. Hong / AP

This story is part of Capital Public Radio's series on new California laws that take effect on Jan. 1, 2016.

A new law signed by California Governor Jerry Brown this year will require group homes meet treatment standards for foster children with histories of mental illness, sexual abuse or significant trauma.

Homes that can not meet those standards will not be allowed to operate and children who do not need those services will not be allowed to stay in those homes.

Democratic Assemblyman Mark Stone wrote the law and says it's part of an effort to get kids out of group homes and into family settings.

"It is a major push away from the utilization of group homes and into more individualized care. That's the significant shift," he says. "There still will be some group homes. But, what we've done in this is limited the duration, turned them into more short-term, intensive care treatment facilities for those kids who need that."
Studies cited in a Department of Social Services report from this year say increased time in group homes corresponds to higher rates of incarceration, lower levels of education, and lower employment.
Stone says the department is already preparing for the new standards.

"What the department is right now doing is going out to each county and finding out from them what resources they have available, what group homes they have, how they're going to be able to do this transition, what their inventory, if you will, is of resource families," he says.

About 3,000 California children have been in group homes for more than a year. One thousand kids have been in group homes for more than five years.

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