Sample California Department of Social Services Records Request

[Date]

California Public Records Act Requests

Re:         Public Records Act Request – Data on Youth in Residential Treatment Centers

To whom it may concern:

[Entity or person] is submitting this request pursuant to the California Public Records Act (CPRA) for copies of certain records in the possession, custody, or control of [entity]. See California Government Code §§ 6250 et seq. Our request encompasses the documents falling within the specific categories set forth below.

Definitions Used in this Request:

For purposes of this request, the terms “policies and procedures” include, but are not limited to, codes, board policies, rules and regulations, exhibits, bulletins, memoranda, directives, and training materials. If any of the policies of procedures we have requested are currently being updated or revised, please let us know in writing.

The term “facility” as used in this request pertains to the entire spectrum of privately run residential programs and congregate care facilities that house young people, including but not limited to: community treatment facilities, behavioral modification programs, residential treatment centers, short-term residential therapeutic programs, group homes, transitional housing placement programs, wilderness programs, substance abuse intervention programs, and therapeutic boarding schools.  See California Department of Social Services, “Facility Types,” https://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/childrens-residential/resources-for-providers/facility-information.

The terms “documents” or “records” as used in this request have the same broad definition as is given the term “writing” in section 6252(g) of the Government Code, as set forth below, and
includes drafts of all documents encompassed in this request:

Any handwriting, typewriting, printing, photostatting, photographing, photocopying, transmitting by electronic mail or facsimile, and every other means of recording upon any tangible thing any form of communication or representation, including letters, words, pictures, sounds, or symbols, or combinations thereof, and any record thereby created, regardless of the manner in which the record has been stored.

Further, these terms include, but are not limited to, any electronic information, reports, evaluations, memoranda, correspondence, letters, emails, charts, graphs, flyers, meeting agendas and minutes, diagrams, forms, DVDs, tapes, CDs, notes, and other similar materials.

Preserving Privacy:

We understand that some of the documents we have requested may contain information that would identify individual students if produced in their unredacted form. We both expect and encourage the District to comply with its obligation to protect the privacy of its students. We, therefore, request that, where necessary, responsive documents be redacted to replace student names and Statewide Student Identifier (SSID) numbers with pseudo-identifiers consisting of random sequences of numbers and letters. This will protect students’ identities while allowing us to know if certain students are repeatedly referred to in the documents provided.

If any records in this request are claimed to be exempt from disclosure, we request that: (1) you exercise your discretion to disclose some or all of the records notwithstanding the exemption; and (2) with respect to records containing both exempt and non-exempt content, you redact the exempt content and disclose the rest, consistent with California Government Code section 6253(a). Additionally, if any records are withheld or redacted, please provide a written response that describes the records being withheld or redacted and the claimed reason for exemption under the Public Records Act.

Records Requested:

Please provide us with copies of the records specified below. Each lettered or numbered paragraph should be considered a separate request under the CPRA. For each set of records produced, please identify the paragraph to which the records are intended to respond.

We also request that you provide any public record identified in the following electronic formats to us in that electronic format, instead of in paper format: PDF format or all Microsoft Office formats, including Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. See California Government Code § 6253.9.

Please provide us with relevant records from 2015 to 2021, unless specified otherwise.

[Question 1 is intended to allow a comparison of the large amounts of public money going to these orgs instead of to children’s communities. We have a public rate schedule (http://m.policy.dcfs.lacounty.gov/Src/Content/AFDC_FC_GRI_FC_Rates.htm), but hopefully we can get more detailed financial information.]          

  1. The following aggregate data regarding financial information:
    1. The cost per month per individual of housing a young person, broken down by facility.
    2. The amount per month that [entity] spends on sending young people to these facilities.

[Question 2 is intended to gather information about how STRTPs actually implement the depth of therapeutic support that they are supposed to offer.]

2. The following aggregate data regarding the placement selection and evaluation process:

    1. Any and all written criteria or policies governing the process through which [entity] selects a facility, including but not limited to checklists of services or therapies available, staffing requirements, or licensing requirements.
    2. Any and all evaluations of placement sites, including but not limited to feedback from [entity] staff, families, legal advocates, and the individuals placed in the facility.
    3. Any and all information on staffing selection at facilities, including but not limited to educational and experiential requirements.
    4. All records referencing policies, rules, administrative regulations, resolutions, or procedures governing restorative practices/processes to address safety for LGBTQ+ youth.
    5. Any and all copies of the training plans that STRTP facilities use with their staff, as required by section 87065.1 of the STRTP interim licensing standards, including any example training plans maintained by the department and any records relating to the use of professionally-prepared training materials, such as Management of Aggressive Behavior (MAB) and Non-Compliant Intervention (NCI).
      [This is based on our conversation