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Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills on foster youth

Gov. Jerry Brown signs bills on foster youth
Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles), center, wrote a measure that requires the state Department of Social Services to develop a process for social workers to submit concerns. (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Under a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday, social workers will be able to report their concerns if they believe that practices by county welfare agencies are endangering children.

The measure by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer (D-Los Angeles) requires the state Department of Social Services to develop a process for social workers to submit concerns. The department would not be allowed to disclose the identity of the social worker making the report, unless the worker consents to being identified.

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The child-welfare system in Los Angeles County has come under particular scrutiny recently. In April, a blue-ribbon panel found that the system was in "a state of emergency," with reform efforts bogged down by bureaucracy.

In a statement, Jones-Sawyer said AB 1978 "gives social workers a venue to expose problems in the child welfare system without risking their jobs and allowing everyone to put our most vulnerable neglected children first."

The measure is one of a number of bills related to foster youth and the homeless that Brown signed into law Monday.

Other legislation states that when a child is removed from parental custody, it is the preference of the Legislature that the child be temporarily placed with a member of his or her immediate or extended family, instead of being placed into the general foster-care system.

AB 1761 is by Assemblyman Isadore Hall III (D-Compton).

The governor also signed a measure that allows counties to extend temporary housing to former foster youth up to age 25 who are enrolled in college. Sen. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) introduced SB 1252.

Follow @melmason for more on California government and politics

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