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Legal Resources | Welfare and Institutions Code |  Wl  11462  

Public Social Services; Aid and Medical Assistance; Computation and Payment of Aid Grants   

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(a) (1) Effective July 1, 1990, foster care providers licensed as group homes, as defined in departmental regulations, including public child care institutions, as defined in Section 11402.5, shall have rates established by classifying each group home program and applying the standardized schedule of rates. The department shall collect information from group providers beginning January 1, 1990, in order to classify each group home program.

(2) Notwithstanding paragraph (1), foster care providers licensed as group homes shall have rates established only if the group home is organized and operated on a nonprofit basis as required under subdivision (h) of Section 11400. The department shall terminate the rate effective January 1, 1993, of any group home not organized and operated on a nonprofit basis as required under subdivision (h) of Section 11400.

(3) (A) The department shall determine, consistent with the requirements of this chapter and other relevant requirements under law, the rate classification level (RCL) for each group home program on a biennial basis. Submission of the biennial rate application shall be made according to a schedule determined by the department.

(B) The department shall adopt regulations to implement this paragraph. The adoption, amendment, repeal, or readoption of a regulation authorized by this paragraph is deemed to be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health and safety, or general welfare, for purposes of Sections 11346.1 and 11349.6 of the Government Code, and the department is hereby exempted from the requirement to describe specific facts showing the need for immediate action.

(b) A group home program shall be initially classified, for purposes of emergency regulations, according to the level of care and services to be provided using a point system developed by the department and described in the report, "The Classification of Group Home Programs under the Standardized Schedule of Rates System," prepared by the State Department of Social Services, August 30, 1989.

(c) The rate for each RCL has been determined by the department with data from the AFDC-FC Group Home Rate Classification Pilot Study. The rates effective July 1, 1990, were developed using 1985 calendar year costs and reflect adjustments to the costs for each fiscal year, starting with the 1986-87 fiscal year, by the amount of the California Necessities Index computed pursuant to the methodology described in Section 11453. The data obtained by the department using 1985 calendar year costs shall be updated and revised by January 1, 1993.

(d) As used in this section, "standardized schedule of rates" means a listing of the 14 rate classification levels, and the single rate established for each RCL.

(e) Except as specified in paragraph (1), the department shall determine the RCL for each group home program on a prospective basis, according to the level of care and services that the group home operator projects will be provided during the period of time for which the rate is being established.

(1) (A) (i) For new and existing providers requesting the establishment of an RCL, and for existing group home programs requesting an RCL increase, the department shall determine the RCL no later than 13 months after the effective date of the provisional rate. The determination of the RCL shall be based on a program audit of documentation and other information that verifies the level of care and supervision provided by the group home program during a period of the two full calendar months or 60 consecutive days, whichever is longer, preceding the date of the program audit, unless the group home program requests a lower RCL. The program audit shall not cover the first six months of operation under the provisional rate.

(ii) For audit purposes, if the group home program serves a mixture of AFDC-FC eligible and ineligible children, the weighted hours for child care and social work services provided and the capacity of the group home shall be adjusted by the ratio of AFDC-FC eligible children to all children in placement.

(iii) Pending the department's issuance of the program audit report that determines the RCL for the group home program, the group home program shall be eligible to receive a provisional rate that shall be based on the level of care and service that the group home program proposes it will provide. The group home program shall be eligible to receive only the RCL determined by the department during the pendency of any appeal of the department's RCL determination.

(B) A group home program may apply for an increase in its RCL no earlier than two years from the date the department has determined the group home program's rate, unless the host county, the primary placing county, or a regional consortium of counties submits to the department in writing that the program is needed in that county, that the provider is capable of effectively and efficiently operating the proposed program, and that the provider is willing and able to accept AFDC-FC children for placement who are determined by the placing agency to need the level of care and services that will be provided by the program.

(C) To ensure efficient administration of the department's audit responsibilities, and to avoid the fraudulent creation of records, group home programs shall make records that are relevant to the RCL determination available to the department in a timely manner. Except as provided in this section, the department may refuse to consider, for purposes of determining the rate, any documents that are relevant to the determination of the RCL that are not made available by the group home provider by the date the group home provider requests a hearing on the department's RCL determination. The department may refuse to consider, for purposes of determining the rate, the following records, unless the group home provider makes the records available to the department during the fieldwork portion of the department's program audit:

(i) Records of each employee's full name, home address, occupation, and social security number.

(ii) Time records showing when the employee begins and ends each work period, meal periods, split shift intervals, and total daily hours worked.

(iii) Total wages paid each payroll period.

(iv) Records required to be maintained by licensed group home providers under Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations that are relevant to the RCL determination.

(D) To minimize financial abuse in the startup of group home programs, when the department's RCL determination is more than three levels lower than the RCL level proposed by the group home provider, and the group home provider does not appeal the department's RCL determination, the department shall terminate the rate of a group home program 45 days after issuance of its program audit report. When the group home provider requests a hearing on the department's RCL determination, and the RCL determined by the director under subparagraph (E) is more than three levels lower than the RCL level proposed by the group home provider, the department shall terminate the rate of a group home program within 30 days of issuance of the director's decision. Notwithstanding the reapplication provisions in subparagraph (B), the department shall deny any request for a new or increased RCL from a group home provider whose RCL is terminated pursuant to this subparagraph, for a period of no greater than two years from the effective date of the RCL termination.

(E) A group home provider may request a hearing of the department's RCL determination under subparagraph (A) no later than 30 days after the date the department issues its RCL determination. The department's RCL determination shall be final if the group home provider does not request a hearing within the prescribed time. Within 60 days of receipt of the request for hearing, the department shall conduct a hearing on the RCL determination. The standard of proof shall be the preponderance of the evidence and the burden of proof shall be on the department. The hearing officer shall issue the proposed decision within 45 days of the close of the evidentiary record. The director shall adopt, reject, or modify the proposed decision, or refer the matter back to the hearing officer for additional evidence or findings within 100 days of issuance of the proposed decision. If the director takes no action on the proposed decision within the prescribed time, the proposed decision shall take effect by operation of law.

(2) Group home programs that fail to maintain at least the level of care and services associated with the RCL upon which their rate was established shall inform the department. The department shall develop regulations specifying procedures to be applied when a group home fails to maintain the level of services projected, including, but not limited to, rate reduction and recovery of overpayments.

(3) The department shall not reduce the rate, establish an overpayment, or take other actions pursuant to paragraph (2) for any period that a group home program maintains the level of care and services associated with the RCL for children actually residing in the facility. Determinations of levels of care and services shall be made in the same way as modifications of overpayments are made pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) of Section 11466.2.

(4) A group home program that substantially changes its staffing pattern from that reported in the group home program statement shall provide notification of this change to all counties that have placed children currently in care. This notification shall be provided whether or not the RCL for the program may change as a result of the change in staffing pattern.

(f) (1) The standardized schedule of rates for the 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08 fiscal years is:

FY 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2007-08

Rate Classification Level

_____ Point Ranges

Standard Rate

1

Under 60

$1,454

2

60-89

1,835

3

90-119

2,210

4

120-149

2,589

5

150-179

2,966

6

180-209

3,344

7

210-239

3,723

8

240-269

4,102

9

270-299

4,479

10

300-329

4,858

11

330-359

5,234

12

360-389

5,613

13

390-419

5,994

14

420 & Up

6,371

(2) (A) For group home programs that receive AFDC-FC payments for services performed during the 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10 fiscal years, the adjusted RCL point ranges below shall be used for establishing the biennial rates for existing programs, pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) and in performing program audits and in determining any resulting rate reduction, overpayment assessment, or other actions pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (e):

Adjusted Point Ranges

for the 2002-03, 2003-04,

Rate Classification Level

2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10 Fiscal Years

1

Under 54?

2

54-81

3

82-110

4

111-138

5

139-167

6

168-195

7

196-224

8

225-253

9

254-281

10

282-310

11

311-338

12

339-367

13

368-395

14

396 & Up

(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), foster care providers operating group homes during the 2002-03, 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, and 2009-10 fiscal years shall remain responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the children placed in their programs in accordance with existing applicable provisions of the Health and Safety Code and community care licensing regulations, as contained in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.

(C) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to program audits of group home programs with provisional rates established pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (e). For those program audits, the RCL point ranges in paragraph (1) shall be used.

(D) Rates applicable for the 2009-10 fiscal year pursuant to the act that adds this subparagraph shall be effective October 1, 2009.

(3) (A) For group home programs that receive AFDC-FC payments for services performed during the 2009-10 fiscal year the adjusted RCL point ranges below shall be used for establishing the biennial rates for existing programs, pursuant to paragraph (3) of subdivision (a) and in performing program audits and in determining any resulting rate reduction, overpayment assessment, or other actions pursuant to paragraph (2) of subdivision (e):

Adjusted Point Ranges

Rate

Classification

for the 2009-10

Level

Fiscal Years

1

Under 39?

2

39-64

3

65-90

4

91-115

5

116-141

6

142-167

7

168-192

8

193-218

9

219-244

10

245-270

11

271-295

12

296-321

13

322-347

14

348 & Up

(B) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), foster care providers operating group homes during the 2009-10 fiscal year shall remain responsible for ensuring the health and safety of the children placed in their programs in accordance with existing applicable provisions of the Health and Safety Code and community care licensing regulations as contained in Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations.

(C) Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to program audits of group home programs with provisional rates established pursuant to paragraph (1) of subdivision (e). For those program audits, the RCL point ranges in paragraph (1) shall be used.

(g) (1) (A) For the 1999-2000 fiscal year, the standardized rate for each RCL shall be adjusted by an amount equal to the California Necessities Index computed pursuant to the methodology described in Section 11453. The resultant amounts shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates, subject to further adjustment pursuant to subparagraph (B).

(B) In addition to the adjustment in subparagraph (A), commencing January 1, 2000, the standardized rate for each RCL shall be increased by 2.36 percent, rounded to the nearest dollar. The resultant amounts shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates.

(2) Beginning with the 2000-01 fiscal year, the standardized schedule of rates shall be adjusted annually by an amount equal to the CNI computed pursuant to Section 11453, subject to the availability of funds. The resultant amounts shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates.

(3) Effective January 1, 2001, the amount included in the standard rate for each Rate Classification Level (RCL) for the salaries, wages, and benefits for staff providing child care and supervision or performing social work activities, or both, shall be increased by 10 percent. This additional funding shall be used by group home programs solely to supplement staffing, salaries, wages, and benefit levels of staff specified in this paragraph. The standard rate for each RCL shall be recomputed using this adjusted amount and the resultant rates shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates. The department may require a group home receiving this additional funding to certify that the funding was utilized in accordance with the provisions of this section.

(4) Effective January 1, 2008, the amount included in the standard rate for each RCL for the wages for staff providing child care and supervision or performing social work activities, or both, shall be increased by 5 percent, and the amount included for the payroll taxes and other employer-paid benefits for these staff shall be increased from 20.325 percent to 24 percent. The standard rate for each RCL shall be recomputed using these adjusted amounts, and the resulting rates shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates.

(5) The new standardized schedule of rates as provided for in paragraph (4) shall be reduced by 10 percent, effective October 1, 2009, and the resulting rates shall constitute the new standardized schedule of rates.

(6) The rates of licensed group home providers, whose rates are not established under the standardized schedule of rates, shall be reduced by 10 percent, effective October 1, 2009.

(h) The standardized schedule of rates pursuant to subdivisions (f) and (g) shall be implemented as follows:

(1) Any group home program that received an AFDC-FC rate in the prior fiscal year at or above the standard rate for the RCL in the current fiscal year shall continue to receive that rate.

(2) Any group home program that received an AFDC-FC rate in the prior fiscal year below the standard rate for the RCL in the current fiscal year shall receive the RCL rate for the current year.

(i) (1) The department shall not establish a rate for a new program of a new or existing provider, or for an existing program at a new location of an existing provider, unless the provider submits a letter of recommendation from the host county, the primary placing county, or a regional consortium of counties that includes all of the following:

(A) That the program is needed by that county.

(B) That the provider is capable of effectively and efficiently operating the program.

(C) That the provider is willing and able to accept AFDC-FC children for placement who are determined by the placing agency to need the level of care and services that will be provided by the program.

(D) That, if the letter of recommendation is not being issued by the host county, the primary placing county has notified the host county of its intention to issue the letter and the host county was given the opportunity of 30 days to respond to this notification and to discuss options with the primary placing county.

(2) The department shall encourage the establishment of consortia of county placing agencies on a regional basis for the purpose of making decisions and recommendations about the need for, and use of, group home programs and other foster care providers within the regions.

(3) The department shall annually conduct a county-by-county survey to determine the unmet placement needs of children placed pursuant to Section 300 and Section 601 or 602, and shall publish its findings by November 1 of each year.

(j) The department shall develop regulations specifying ratesetting procedures for program expansions, reductions, or modifications, including increases or decreases in licensed capacity, or increases or decreases in level of care or services.

(k) For the purpose of this subdivision, "program change" means any alteration to an existing group home program planned by a provider that will increase the RCL or AFDC-FC rate. An increase in the licensed capacity or other alteration to an existing group home program that does not increase the RCL or AFDC-FC rate shall not constitute a program change.

(l) General unrestricted or undesignated private charitable donations and contributions made to charitable or nonprofit organizations shall not be deducted from the cost of providing services pursuant to this section. The donations and contributions shall not be considered in any determination of maximum expenditures made by the department.

(m) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2017, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2017, deletes or extends that date.

(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 773, Sec. 71.)