The Child Welfare Division of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health was created as part of the Enhanced Specialized Foster Care Mental Health Services Plan approved by the County Board of Supervisors in October of 2005. The division represents a centralized DMH administrative structure, supported by Service Area administrative linkages, to provide overall oversight and coordination of countywide activities related to the provision of mental health services for children and youth in the county’s child welfare system. This unit works closely with DCFS administrators, the Chief Executive Office, the DMH Executive Management Team and Service Area District Chiefs, County Counsel, Katie A. Advisory Panel members, and the various components of the department (e.g. Planning, Training and Cultural Competency Bureau, Contracts, Budget, etc.) to bring the county system into compliance with the requirements of the 2003 settlement agreement related to the Katie A. lawsuit.
The Child Welfare Division monitors the following programs:
Comprehensive Children’s Services Program (CCSP)
Intensive Case Management are 24/7 services that assist a client to access needed Specialized Foster Care Intensive-In Home services and to maintain the therapeutic gains attained from CCSP. The services activities may include, but are not limited to, targeted case management activities (i.e., linkage and consultation, placement services, plan development), mental health services (i.e., assessment, plan development, collateral), and crisis intervention.
Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT)
The Multidisciplinary Assessment Team (MAT) is an exciting collaborative effort between the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), the Department of Mental Health (DMH), and other Community Mental Health Providers. When a child is newly detained by the court, and removed from his/her family of origin, he/she is eligible for a MAT assessment. The MAT assessment is designed to make sure that all child and family needs are assessed as a child/youth enters foster care. The assessment is meant to help meet some of the special needs a child may have that place a family in danger of a lengthy separation. The information gathered by this assessment is used to determine what services are most needed and how they will be accessed.
Specilized Foster Care Co-located Program
The Specialized Foster Care Program Co-Located Program was created to ensure that the Los Angeles County County Department of Mental Health and the Department of Children and Family Services met the goals of the County of Los Angeles’ Settlement Agreement for the Katie A., et al., vs. Diana Bontà, et al., (State of California and County of Los Angeles) lawsuit. The five plaintiff foster children requested, in lieu of payment, that “the County and State” improve upon their delivery of services to all children and young adults under the custody of DCFS, and/or those at risk of entering the child welfare system.
The Specialized Foster Care (SFC) staffs are co-located throughout Los Angeles County in all 18 Department of Children and Family Services offices. SFC staffs provide mental health services to children/youth under voluntary and court supervisoion of the Department of Children and Family Services. Services include, but are not limited to providing mental health assessments, evidenced-based treatment, crisis interventions, (in-home and the community), consultation,linkage to community mental health providers, participation in multidisciplinary team meetings and linkage to mental health providers.
Intensive Treatment Foster Care (ITFC)
Created by Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) as an alternative to group facilities. Program places DCFS foster children in specialized resource homes where trained resource parents are matched to the specific needs of each youth. The result is an individualized treatment program for the youth that is supported 24/7.
Wraparound Program – Mental Health Services
Wraparound is a child–focused, family-centered, strengths-based, needs-driven planning process. Wraparound also provides access to an array of comprehensive mental health services. Service delivery objectives are to assist youth in returning home and successfully remaining home; preventing future disruption or placements, symptom reduction as well as overall improvement of family functioning and preventing psychiatric hospitalization.
Wraparound supports family voice, choice and ownership of strategies to return or maintain youth in their community with normalized and inclusive community options, activities and opportunities (i.e., services provided in the most homelike setting). Wraparound includes a commitment to create and provide a highly individualized planning process and to persevere until the desirable outcomes for the children} and families are achieved.
The L.A. County’s Wraparound Program will follow the basic tenets of Phases and Activities of The Wraparound Process and the National Wraparound Initiative Advisory Group: 1) Family voice, 2) Team –based, 3) Collaborative and integrative, 4) Community-based, 5) Culturally Competent, 6) Individualized, 7) Strength based, 8) Natural Supports, 9) Persistent, and 10) Outcome-based.
Each child, adolescent, and family enrolled in Wraparound will participate as a driving force in the development of their treatment plan (i.e. family voice/choice), and as an ongoing partner in the implementation and review of their plan. The organizing group to facilitate the Wraparound process: Child and Family Team (GFT) shall be defined as the group that is dedicated to developing and completing the individualized Child and Family Plan of Care (POC).
In summary, Wraparound practice principles are organized around three main elements; family strengths/child needs-based approach; multi-agency collaboration in the community; and cultural competence.
Quality Service Review (QSR)
The Quality Service Review (QSR) is the County’s chosen evaluative tool designed to ensure that the Shared Practice Model is actually implemented in the work that we do. QSR scores are one component of the County’s exit criteria for the Katie A. class action lawsuit. It is used to evaluate the quality of practice through child and family status and system performance indicators. The results of the QSR show us how we are working now, not in the past.
QSR measures how children and families are currently doing related to their safety, stability, permanency and well-being. It also measures the core functions of our practice such as engagement, teamwork, assessment and understanding, planning and tracking and adjustment.
Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) cases for review are chosen randomly from each Regional DCFC office in the County. Children and all the important people to the case, i.e. Children’s Social Worker (CSW), parents, caregiver, therapist, teachers, doctor, attorneys, clergy, etc. are interviewed by the QSR reviewers. Their findings are first discussed with the CSW and their supervisor, then with a larger group.
After 12 – 14 cases are reviewed and presented, on the final day a summary of these case themes and lessons-learned is gathered from case reviews and focus groups. Two reviewer stories are presented along with aggregate data to illustrate how the regional office performed. The management team then has the opportunity to discuss their immediate, relevant, do able next steps suggestions to improve practice and results at various levels of the organization.