Back and Forward: Laura Heintz on Changes to the Foster Care System

Back Web Only Apr 4, 2017

Laura Heintz, CEO of Stanford Youth Solutions, says majors changes are coming to California’s foster care system. For more from Heintz, check out “Seeking Stability” in our April issue. Sign up for our newsletter and we’ll email you when it’s available online.

What’s the biggest change in your industry in the past year?

The biggest change is Continuum Care Reform for foster youth. The philosophy behind the CCR is a huge change. The focus is now on supporting the placement of a child in a home that can provide a permanent family for that child, which means we now support kin placements and resource families (currently called foster families) that understand the importance of a child having a sense of belonging in order to grow into a healthy, productive adult. Residential treatment is an intervention, so that youth can stabilize, but not in which to live long term. CCR’s entire focus of care is supporting the youth in a family home.

What do you foresee as the biggest change on the horizon in the year to come?

I do believe many agree with the philosophical belief that youth deserve to feel connected and grow in a family environment. This requires a change in practice and a change in fiscal priorities. Funding is required to treat the youth’s trauma and ensure that foster youth get their needs met. Right now, the state of California does not adequately fund for the social work services for foster care (resource family) agencies. If we don’t invest in ensuring that youth get their needs met now, then the stabilization of the young person in compromised.

Right now, most of the funding is dedicated to congregate care and hospitalization. If we want permanency, then we need to invest in social work support, mental health services and family support. We must expect that there is a transition time — we can’t stop utilizing congregate care if we don’t have the resources in place for youth to succeed in the community.

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