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July 1, 2010 - June 30, 2011 Annual Report

The Office of the Foster Care Ombudsmanís 2010-2011 annual report on the state of foster care in California.

The role of the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman is to conduct impartial investigations to ensure the child welfare system is both fair and helpful in the efforts to improve the lives of children and families throughout California. The recommendations in this report are intended to identify strengths and weaknesses, and to improve services and accountability across all levels of the child welfare system.

Additionally, included this year in the report is a section specifically about group homes, where foster youth may reside together under supervision of staff. We are grateful for the Ombudsmanís work this year to highlight specific examples of what works and where improvements can be made in the group homes that serve our children. The Ombudsmanís analysis lends further support and urgency to efforts agreed to by the Legislature and the Administration this past summer to reduce the use of group homes in favor of more family-like settings wherever possible. In furtherance of that agreement, CDSS in September 2012 kicked off a broad-based reform to Californiaís foster care system; a reform that upon implementation will ensure foster care placements across the continuum of care are designed and operated to best meet the goals of safety, permanency and well-being for Californiaís foster children and youth. Implementation of these reforms is planned to occur before October 2014. The Ombudsmanís report also lends support to implementation of the Katie A settlement agreement regarding the delivery of mental health services to foster youth, which is the subject of a similarly broad-based stakeholder effort. We encourage you to give some attention to the informed experience reflected in this yearís group home section of the report.