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San Luis Obispo County

New 2020 CA law could provide more stability to foster care youth

FOSTER CARE KIDS

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- A new 2020 state law is hoping to provide more stability for children in foster care. The legislation would prevent youth from experiencing unnecessary or abrupt changes in placement.

On the Central Coast, hundreds of children are in the foster care system at any given time.

“We need more homes, really, is what we need in our county," said Linda Belch, Child Welfare Services Deputy Director in San Luis Obispo County.

There are more than 350 kids looking for homes in SLO county.

“Our hope is always that people will take our foster youth and keep them either until they reunify with their family, or until they adopt them, or the youth turns 18 and is able to move out on their own," said Belch.

But SLO county's Social Services Department says not every placement is always a good match.

“Maybe a foster parent is having a difficult time or needs a youth to move for whatever reason," she said.

The Child Welfare Services deputy director says abrupt moves can be traumatizing for a child. That's when a new California law taking effect January 1 could help.

“This is really a fantastic law, a great advancement and support for our youth," said Belch.

The legislation requires a 14-day advance notice for any placement changes for youth in foster care. Belch says this time period could serve as a chance for foster parents to rethink their decision.

“Sometimes people need a little space, they may need some counseling. Maybe we can do some mediation and we can resolve whatever issue it is that kinda arose, that is precipitating the move.”

If a youth is moved after all, Belch says the two-week time frame would allow Social Services more days to get everything in place.

“We are moving them to a new home in the most thoughtful way possible, making sure we have their schools attended to, making sure they have all their items packed, and making sure they have everything they need to be successful in their new home.”

The county says there is some flexibility with this time period depending on the case.

“Of course if there's any kind of imminent concern, we would move them as fast as we needed to.”

Belch adds that before this bill was signed into law, their department already asked foster parents to give them a few days of advance notice.

California

Nathalie Vera

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