Inter-Departmental Correspondence

Human Services Agency



March 27, 2002


April 16, 2002



Honorable Board of Supervisors


Maureen Borland, Director, Human Services Agency


Stuart Oppenheim, Northern Regional Director, Human Services Agency



Resolution Authorizing the California Department of Social Services to Recommend San Mateo County as a Site for the 2002 Federal Child and Family Services Review



Adopt a Resolution Authorizing the California Department of Social Services to Recommend San Mateo County as a Site for the 2002 Federal Child and Family Services Review.



The 1994 Amendments to the Social Security Act authorized the federal Department of Health and Human Services to review state child and family service programs with regard to compliance with state plan requirements in Titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act. The federal government has developed a process known as the Child and Family Services Reviews in order to monitor the effectiveness of the following Child Welfare Services:



Child Protective Services


Foster Care




Family Preservation


Family Support


Independent Living Skills Programs for Youth in the Foster Care System



The federal government is currently conducting Child and Family Service Reviews in states

throughout the nation. California is scheduled for review in September, 2002. The process involves on-site reviews of no more than 50 cases statewide in three different county sites, including the largest urban county in the state (in our state the review site will be Los Angeles). The California Department of Social Services, in cooperation with the County Welfare Directors Association, has developed criteria for selecting the two other county sites that they will recommend to the federal government for selection as review sites. Because Los Angeles is not a high performing county, one of the factors that is being considered in the site selection recommendation is the performance of the California counties in several outcome areas, labeled "national standards." Attached to this Memorandum is a chart that shows San Mateo County's performance in these outcome areas, which demonstrates that our county exceeds the national standards in three of the five required areas and exceeds California's statewide performance in four of those areas. The California Department of Social Services and the County Welfare Directors Association would like to recommend to the federal government that San Mateo County be one of the two additional on site review counties.


The on site review will be conducted by a state and federal team during the week of September 15-20. Approximately twelve San Mateo County cases of children living at home with their parents or in foster care would be chosen for an intensive review, and one or two of those cases might be Probation cases,with the remainder coming from the Human Services Agency's Children and Family Services program. The review will involve case record reviews in addition to in-person interviews with county stakeholders in the Child Welfare System (judges, attorneys, Court Appointed Special Advocates, private agency service providers, etc.) and case participants (parents, social workers, attorneys, service providers, etc.) San Mateo County would be responsible for providing logistical support to this process. Because of the time consuming nature of this support we have requested, and would receive, $50,000 of financial assistance from the state to allow us to undertake this responsibility. In addition, because of the possible involvement of Probation cases, we have discussed this matter with, Chief Probation Officer Loren Buddress.


We believe that this is an opportunity for San Mateo County to demonstrate to the state and federal governments the good work that we do as a result of the financial and programmatic investments and support that your Board has committed to improving outcomes for children and families over the years. However, it is likely that California overall will fail the Child and Family Service Review. No state, to date, has passed the review and it is expected that all 50 states will fail. The County Welfare Directors Association and California Department of Social Services are working on a communications strategy to mitigate publicity regarding this likely failure, but it is expected that California's failure in this review will generate negative publicity for California, especially in the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee. We understand that the County Welfare Directors Association and California Department of Social Services are eager for San Mateo's participation in this activity because of our good performance. But we are also aware that our county, as one of the review sites, will be included in the discussions that are generated from the state's failure.


The federal government may or may not choose San Mateo County, based upon the state's recommendation. Once we are chosen, we do not have an option regarding the on-site review. However, the state believes that its recommendation will have some sway with the federal site selection, and it is our option to allow them to include us in their recommendations. Because of the possible negative publicity associated with the federal Child and Family Service reviews we believe that a decision to recommend San Mateo County as an on-site review county should be a Board decision, and we are therefore submitting the attached resolution for your consideration.


Vision Alignment

Adoption of this resolution keeps the commitment to Ensure basic health and safety for all, goal number 6: Children grow up healthy in safe and supportive homes and neighborhoods.


Fiscal Impact

San Mateo County will receive an additional $50,000 in our Child Welfare Services Allocation as compensation for the logistical support activities involved in conducting the on-site reviews. There is no Net County Cost associated with this activity.