The County of Santa Clara


Accept report from Social Services Agency relating to the disproportional representation of children of color in the Child Welfare System.


Department:Social Services AgencySponsors:






Certain children of color, specifically African Ancestry and Latino children, continue to be over represented in the child welfare population compared to their presence in the general Santa Clara County population, whereas Asian and White children remain under represented.


The recommended action will positively impact the Safe & Stable Families indicator through increased focus on disproportionately represented populations and the associated impacts for children and families. 


The recommended action will have no/neutral impact on seniors.


The recommended action will have no/neutral sustainability implications.


It has long been a concern that Latino and African Ancestry children have been overrepresented in the child welfare population, compared to their representation in the general Santa Clara County overall child populations.  Conversely, Asian children and white children continue to be underrepresented in the child welfare population compared to their presence in the overall Santa Clara County child population. 


To maintain focus on this very important issue, and to combine various reports on individual efforts, the Children, Seniors and Families Committee (CSFC) requested the department provide monthly reports on ongoing efforts to impact this issue.


This report contains the latest activities focused on addressing issues of disproportionate representation in the child welfare system that have occurred within the last month.


Data Analysis

There was a significant spike in the total number of children in referrals in March 2013 from 1311 to 1550.  (There were also over 1500 children in referrals in March 2012.)


In March, the number of open cases continued to trend upward from 2079 to 2104, as did the number of Latino cases (from 1292 to 1336).  Latino cases increased in the same proportion as did total cases.


Family Maintenance and Permanent Placement cases continued to trend upward in March.  While we see improved efforts to provide services to children while in the home of parents, we also continue to see children who are remaining in long term careThere were slight decreases in Family Reunification and Emergency Response cases, and Supportive Transition cases remained flat for this review month. 


Agency efforts

Since last month’s report, efforts to address the disproportionate representation of children of color have continued through a variety of venues.


California Partners for Permanence (CAPP): 


California Partners for Permanency is a federally funded project to reduce the number of children in long-term foster care. It is one of six projects in the country funded through a $100 million Presidential Initiative.

The California effort focuses on African American and Native American children who are over-represented in the state's child welfare system and for whom it has been most challenging to find permanent homes. Project goals are to both reduce long-term foster care and improve child well-being. This will be accomplished through a comprehensive approach to child welfare systems change.

Over the course of five years and with $14.5 million in federal funding, California Partners for Permanency (CAPP) will:

§                      Conduct an analysis of local child welfare systems to better understand the barriers to permanency and inform solutions to reduce long term foster care;

§                      Develop a Child and Family Practice Model that builds on existing permanency practices;

§                      Refine, test and evaluate the approach in four California counties, and then;

§                      Replicate the approach in additional counties statewide and develop a plan to spread statewide.

At the project's completion, the goal is to have implemented changes in child welfare systems so that there are not only fewer children and youth in long-term foster care, but also fewer entries into foster care.

Santa Clara County is one of four early implementing counties across the state (Los Angeles, Humboldt, Fresno, and Santa Clara) selected to participate in the grant’s efforts.

To date, four cohorts, consisting of continuing case carrying social work units, support social work staff and community partners have been trained in the practice approach. 

A critical component of the practice model includes coaching to competence.  To that end, External Coaches have been utilized to help build internal supervisory and management coaching capacity so that the reflective practice elements can be sustained. 

The Implementation Team meets weekly and a Leadership Team meets twice monthly to identify and trouble shoot systemic issues.

Santa Clara County is now just in the initial phase of beginning Fidelity Assessment, in which social worker interactions will be observed on selected cases to understand and support the 23 practice behaviors identified as core to the practice model.



Staff Training Opportunities

The Department publicized upcoming conferences and training opportunities for staff, including Spanish for Working with Latino Families and Children on May 17 and Cultural and Clinical Considerations in Working with Filipino-Americans on May 10.

Staff Recruitment:

The Social Services Agency/Department of Family and Children’s Services continues recruitment efforts to fill vacancies.  During the month of March, recruitments continued for Open-Continuous lists for Bilingual Spanish Speaking Social Worker positions, Bilingual Cantonese Speaking Social Worker, and Mono-lingual English.  The Department is currently interviewing and making offers for SWIII positions throughout the Department and announced openings for SWII level, also with a focus on Spanish Speaking bilingual. The Department is awaiting the list for eligible candidates to interview for SWII level positions. In addition, SSA Human Resources is working to bolster focused recruiting efforts, including doing outreach to Bay Area School of Social Work Programs and coordinating with the Employee Services Agency to include current Social Work Interns who meet the qualification in current recruitments.



The consequence of negative action is that the Children, Seniors and Families Committee would not receive the monthly report on Disproportional Representation of Children of Color in the Child Welfare System.


The Clerk of the Board will follow the usual procedures for a report of this type.


Meeting History

May 16, 2013 1:00 PM Video Children, Seniors, and Families Committee Regular Meeting

Ms. Medina advised of an increase in the total number of children in referrals and spoke of the need for staff recruitment and training opportunities. Mr. Wagstaff noted the formation and highlighted SSA's participation in the Latino Advisory Practices Workgroup.

Jun 4, 2013 9:00 AM Video Board of Supervisors Regular Meeting
MOVER:S. Joseph Simitian, Supervisor
SECONDER:Dave Cortese, Supervisor
AYES:Mike Wasserman, Dave Cortese, Ken Yeager, S. Joseph Simitian