Author and Cosponsors of Assembly Bill 2043 Respond to Governor Brown’s Veto

Press release Amanda Kirchner Diana Boyer

SACRAMENTO – Last week, to our disappointment, Governor Brown vetoed Assembly Bill 2043 (Arambula), cosponsored by CWDA, Children Now, and the County Behavioral Health Directors Association of California (CBHDA), which would have created California’s first-ever Family Urgent Response System (FURS) for foster youth and families.

“I am disappointed that the governor did not sign Assembly Bill 2043 and look forward to working on this issue in the new year,” said Assemblymember Dr. Joaquin Arambula. “Our children and families in California’s foster care system need support in any way that we can provide it. The bill would have given children and their caregivers a way to steady any stressful situation by establishing a 24-hour hotline. I believe that this approach not only would have reduced calls to law enforcement but helped families form stronger relationships, giving foster children the stability they so greatly need.”

With the continued support of a coalition of more than 500 youth and caregiver advocates, as well as health care, education, faith-based, and community organizations throughout California, we will absolutely pursue passage of AB 2043 next year.

“CWDA remains committed to seeing this mobile response system realized because these children and families deserve every bit of support we can give them, and this will help us realize the full potential of foster care reform in California,” said Frank Mecca, executive director of the County Welfare Directors Association. “We are hopeful that the next Administration will be supportive of the needs of foster youth and their caregivers, especially given that California will be eligible for federal matching funds to implement AB 2043,” Mecca said.

“We consistently hear from families that are frustrated without the support and services they need for these children that aren’t readily available to them where they are and when they need it the most. Families are often forced to call law enforcement as a last resort, which only sets up these already distressed children for further trauma”, said Susanna Kniffen, senior director of child welfare policy at Children Now.

FURS would create a 24-7 hotline for foster youth and caregivers experiencing difficulties who need immediate help. The trained operators would help defuse the immediate situation and determine whether in-home support is needed. Through the hotline, the operator could dispatch a mobile response team to stabilize the situation and create a plan of action. Our current systems are simply not set up, nor funded, to provide services immediately in the home when they are needed. AB 2043 would remedy that gap, one of the unfulfilled promises of Continuum of Care Reform.

 “Children that have been removed from their homes and are placed in the foster system have faced unimaginable trauma that often results in behavioral issues”, said Robb Layne, director of external affairs and communication for the County Behavioral Health Directors Association. “Having mental health experts, social workers, and peers readily available during moments of crisis will help families ensure a more stable environment so that these children can heal from their trauma.”

These organizations will be back next year determined as ever to see AB 2043 signed into law.