Step Up to Step Down, California: Engaging Caregivers Towards Training Solutions

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State and national child welfare legislation in the last decade have underscored efforts to reduce the use of congregate care or group home placements for foster youth and increase placements in home-based settings (California Department of Social Services, 2015; Zhou et al., 2021). A policy analysis of AB403’s Continuum of Care Reform indicated that while state data shows the goals of AB403 being met, in that congregate care placements decreased, and home-based placements increased since implementation, concerns remained regarding implementation, such as displaced children living in child welfare offices awaiting placement, and a lack of willing home-based caregivers to take children transitioning from group care (Arellano, 2021). Primarily, the Continuum of Care Reform sets timelines for youth residing in Short-term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTP)’s for no longer than six months. Active transition planning is initiated at the onset of an STRTP placement. Through formal community engagement of foster parents from throughout California, who participated in focus groups, data was collected regarding barriers, training, and factors leading to placement stability. Eight themes resulted from their feedback: placement experiences and perceptions, mental health, barriers, systemic factors, training needs, placement screening, caregiver skills, and placement stability. This feedback was then used to create a training program called Simulation Circles for Support, informed by the participants, which incorporates existing training opportunities, builds on skill development, and promotes peer learning.
A capstone project submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Doctor of Social Work
Social Work, Family Studies