In addition to implementing the continuum of care described above, the state has adopted several pieces of legislation that affect specific groups of children in its foster care population. KinGap addresses the 56,000 children in California foster care who are placed with relatives. The purpose of KinGap is to formalize the permanency of those placements by encouraging relative guardianship or adoption. Under KinGap, when relatives assume guardianship, the family exits the child welfare system, and social work visits and court supervision end. However, the family continues to receive a modest subsidized guardianship payment.
In January 1998, California Senate Bill 163 (1997) initiated a 5-year wraparound services pilot that targets youth who are residing, or at risk of being placed, in residential facilities licensed at a Rate Classification Level (RCL) of 12 to 14 -- California's highest level and most expensive out-of-home care. Senate Bill 163 allows counties to use state foster care dollars and Adoption Assistance Program funds to provide the individualized, intensive in-home services that are necessary to keep children in or return them to family settings. Counties may provide wraparound services only after they have met state training and technical assistance requirements. Five counties -- Los Angeles, Sacramento, Humboldt, Alameda, and Santa Clara -- are currently participating in this state program, and another 24 are receiving the required technical assistance and training. In addition to S.B. 163, some counties have implemented wraparound services under California's Title IV-E Child Welfare Waiver Demonstration Project. As required by the Waiver, those counties' wraparound programs are being evaluated by the Child Welfare Research Center, University of California-Berkeley. The Santa Clara County program that is highlighted in this report operates under S.B. 163 only, not Title IV-E, and is therefore not participating in the evaluation.
In order to successfully move children from residential to family care, S.B. 163 made two important changes to service funding. Prior to this legislation, service funding was discontinued after children were reunified with their families. Families faced enormous challenges trying to maintain these children in their homes, given the severity of their mental health needs. S.B. 163 allows service funding to continue after children return home. Furthermore, S.B. 163 provides for the flexible, rather than categorical, use of wraparound funds. This flexibility in the use of funds enables providers to develop and implement wraparound services that meet each individual family's unique needs.