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Completed by:

The Unsilenced Policy Team

California Legislation Report

2022

2022

Introduction

The ‘troubled teen’ industry is a network of residential programs that claim to provide treatment for the behavioral and developmental needs of youth. The industry’s lack of transparency and accountability has led to widespread abuse of youth, resulting in hospitalizations, prolonged trauma and death.

Today, there are an estimated 120,000 – 200,000 minors in residential programs across the United States. These youth are placed each year by state child welfare agencies, juvenile justice courts, mental health providers, refugee resettlement agencies, school districts’ individualized education programs, and by parents.

Many of these youth have trauma histories, which are only exacerbated by being removed from their communities and institutionalized. Youth with lived experience describe these programs as being carceral, harsh, and abusive.

An estimated $23 billion dollars of public funds annually are used to place youth in residential programs. Daily rates for residential treatment ranges from $250-$800, costing up to $292,000 per year, per child.

It is overwhelmingly clear that our communities and agencies are over-relying on residential placements that are negatively impacting the youth they serve.

Introduction

The ‘troubled teen’ industry is a network of residential programs that claim to provide treatment for the behavioral and developmental needs of youth. The industry’s lack of transparency and accountability has led to widespread abuse of youth, resulting in hospitalizations, prolonged trauma and death.

Today, there are an estimated 120,000 – 200,000 minors in residential programs across the United States. These youth are placed each year by state child welfare agencies, juvenile justice courts, mental health providers, refugee resettlement agencies, school districts’ individualized education programs, and by parents.

Many of these youth have trauma histories, which are only exacerbated by being removed from their communities and institutionalized. Youth with lived experience describe these programs as being carceral, harsh, and abusive.

An estimated $23 billion dollars of public funds annually are used to place youth in residential programs. Daily rates for residential treatment ranges from $250-$800, costing up to $292,000 per year, per child.

It is overwhelmingly clear that our communities and agencies are over-relying on residential placements that are negatively impacting the youth they serve.

California Legislation

General Oversight and Transparency Family Code §7900-7912
Definition(s), Regulations, and Legal References The mandatory legal process that the county agency uses to place a child from one state to another for purposes of foster care and/or adoption
Oversight Agency Department of Social Services of sending and receiving state
Which state agency oversees investigations? Ombuds
Are investigations and outcomes visible to the public online? No
Is a list of licensed facilities available to the public? Yes
Can complaints be filed online? Is the reporting portal easy to find? Complaints may be filed online but the portal is not easy to find.
Are phone calls private from other youth and staff? No
Is youth consent required for all treatment received? No
Does the state prohibit mail censorship? No
Is it required that youth receive education that is of the same quality and outcomes as their assigned public school? Not valid when crossing state lines
Is there a Bill of Rights in youth in care? Yes, but it is not required
What types of interstate placements are not subject to the ICPC? Placements into schools where the primary purpose for the placement is educational.
General Oversight and Transparency CRC Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 1, Articles 1-8
Definition(s), Regulations, and Legal References SB 524 (2015) ; Title 22; HSC§1500-1567
What are the zoning requirements? What are occupancy requirements for structures being used to house youth in residential settings? Is there a fire code and how often is this monitored? One or more CO detectors (HSC§1503.2)
Ban on Conversion Therapy for LGBTQA+ youth? Yes. BPC§865.1. Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under the age of 18.
Is there a Bill of Rights in youth in care? Yes, but it is not required.
General Oversight and Transparency HSC § 1502.4
Definition(s), Regulations, and Legal References For "seriously emotionally disturbed" as defined in WIC§5600.3 but does not require inpatient care
Oversight Agency California Department of Social Services
Which state agency oversees investigations? California Department of Social Services
Are investigations and outcomes visible to the public online? No
Is this type of program required to be licensed by the state? State
Is a list of licensed facilities available to the public? Yes
Can complaints be filed online? Is the reporting portal easy to find? No or could not be found at https://data.chhs.ca.gov/
Does the state conduct unannounced site visits? How many per year? Yes but unsure on exact number.
What are the zoning requirements? What are the occupancy requirements for structures being used to house youth in residential settings? Is there a fire code and how often is this monitored? Article 7 section 87087 and 87087.1 - Limit of 2 to a bedroom
Are there admission requirements? HSC§1502.4 - Assessment pursuant to WIC§11462.01
Are there religious exemptions? Yes, 1505
Ban on Conversion Therapy for LGBTQA+ youth? Yes. BPC§865.1. Under no circumstances shall a mental health provider engage in sexual orientation change efforts with a patient under the age of 18.
Is Physical Restraint allowed? Yes
Is Chemical Restraint allowed? Yes, but only if child is in danger to self or others
Is Mechanical Restraint allowed? No, Senate Bill No. 524 - CHAPTER 864 (7) It shall not use secure containment or manual or mechanical restraints. SEC. 3. Section 1502.2
Is Seclusion allowed? Yes
Is there a Bill of Rights for youth in care? Yes, but it is not required.
Additional Information C.R.I.S.E.S. Grant Pilot Program
General Oversight and Transparency SB-524 Private alternative boarding schools and outdoor programs
General Oversight and Transparency (Continued) HEALTH AND SAFETY CODE - HSC
Definition(s), Regulations, and Legal References (19) “Private alternative boarding school” means a group home licensed by the department to operate a program pursuant to Section 1502.2 to provide youth with 24-hour residential care and supervision, which, in addition to providing educational services to youth, provides, or holds itself out as providing, behavioral-based services to youth with social, emotional, or behavioral issues. The care and supervision provided by a private alternative boarding school shall be nonmedical, except as otherwise permitted by law.1502.2. (a)the department shall license private alternative boarding schools as a group home.Private alterative boarding schools follow Group Home Regulation TITLE 22, DIVISION 6 CHAPTER 5 GROUP HOMES
Oversight Agency