New child protection rules aim to keep siblings together and help adoptive parents

New child protection practices have updated protections for children, families and staff and resulted in more than three-quarters of adoptive children being placed with their siblings, council report says San Diego County Surveillance this week.

The report describes how the San Diego County child welfare system adopted 88 recommendations from an advisory body aimed at achieving better outcomes for children in foster care and those who care for them.

These improvements resulted in 76% of children in care being placed with siblings in January 2022, as well as increased support for caregivers and families and trauma support for employees, officials said. County. The percentage of adoptive siblings placed together increased by about 7% compared to 2018, when 68.9% of siblings were placed in the same household.

The effort began in August 2018, when the county convened the Child Protective Services Review Task Force to assess the child protective system. Its 13 members included former foster children, adoptive parents, nonprofit foster care agencies, and representatives from the San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency, Juvenile Division of the Superior Court and other judicial authorities.

In December of the same year, the task force released a report with detailed recommendations for improving child protection services.

The agency adopted those recommendations over the next few years and reported its findings on Tuesday.

Under the new protocols, the child welfare system can keep groups of siblings together in county facilities for more than 10 days if needed to find a home that can accommodate siblings together.

The county also worked with Angels Foster Family Network, a nonprofit foster care agency, to increase sibling placements within its system, according to the report. And county child protective services updated policies to require a sibling visitation plan and ensure frequent contact between siblings who could not be placed together.

The new protocols have strengthened support for caregivers by providing 24-hour phone or mobile support and offering “Kinship Navigator services” to provide information and resources to loved ones caring for children in their families. And it has bolstered staff support by adding three psychologists to address “secondary traumatic stress” experienced at work and by adopting tools for better management of workload and staffing levels.

“Now, three years later, I am very pleased that we have reached this important milestone in the transformation of the department, but our work is not done,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher. “We must continue to strive for excellence because the children and families of San Diego County depend on it.”

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