California Halts Use of Out of State Foster Care Facilities
Months of Youth Law Center advocacy with the Young Women’s Freedom Center demanding that the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) exercise its oversight and enforcement obligations to protect California youth from being placed in dangerous out of state facilities that fail to comply with California standards has resulted in CDSS closing admissions to, and beginning decertification of, all sixteen facilities approved for placement of California children in foster care. Children placed by county child welfare and probation agencies in out of state facilities will be returning home to California after CDSS notified county placing agencies and facilities that all children must be transitioned back to California within 45 days. California’s use of out of state foster care facilities has been a longstanding practice riddled with a long history of abusive practices, poor conditions, and inadequate oversight. The effort to eliminate out of state facility placements was reignited after the tragic killing of Cornelius Fredricks by staff who suffocated him in a punitive restraint for throwing a sandwich in the lunchroom at Lakeside Academy in Michigan. Many of the more than 30 California children at Lakeside tested positive for COVID while awaiting decertification of the facility and return to California. CDSS’ sweeping action this week to begin decertification of all out of state facilities is a huge victory for California children and families, but the fight is not over. Youth Law Center will continue to monitor the transition, placement, and decertification process as well as advocate for family placement and support local advocates to ensure supported transitions and appropriate placements. Our goal is to ultimately permanently prohibit the dangerous practice of use out of state facilities so that children receive appropriate care in family settings in or near their home communities.
Far From Home|Far From Safe, San Francisco Chronicle and The Imprint, December 11, 2020, Joaquin Palomino, Sara Tiano and Cynthia Dizikes