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Audit Says Foster Care Could be Improved

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 27, 2011

The California State Auditor's report says the Department of Social Services should be hooked into the Department of Justice's sex offender database.  More than 1,000 addresses of sex offenders statewide matched those of foster children.   Michael Weston with Social Services says the agency has since checked those addresses.

WESTON: "We took licensing action against eight facilities statewide and action against 31 individuals statewide."

None of those offenders were found to share an address with a child in Sacramento.

The report also dealt with thorough investigations when a foster child dies.  Sacramento County was out in front of the report's recommendations.  It already conducts internal reviews of deaths and it requires all allegations of abuse be investigated by emergency personnel instead of by case workers.  

When it comes to the money spent by the counties on playing the children, the report says counties could do a better job of saving money.

Margarita Fernandez is with the Auditor's office.   She says counties spent $327 million more on private agencies than they did ten years ago.   

FERNANDEZ: "Some of the counties admitted to placing more children there because of convenience rather than for elevated treatment needs, which was really the original intent of having these foster family agencies."

Ann Edwards is Director of Health Services with Sacramento County.  She says sometimes the private agencies have a home available that is better suited to a particular child for cultural or geographic reasons.

EDWARDS: "We really try to match the child's needs to the home.  For example, we try to keep children in their same school or at least school district if that's appropriate."

38% of Sacramento's foster children are placed through a private service.  The auditor's report says a private agency placement typically costs counties twice what a family or group home placement would cost.

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