(a) It is the intent of the Legislature to preserve and strengthen a child's family ties whenever possible, removing the child from the custody of his or her parents only when necessary for his or her welfare or for the safety and protection of the public. If a child is removed from the physical custody of his or her parents, preferential consideration shall be given whenever possible to the placement of the child with the relative as required by Section 7950 of the Family Code. If the child is removed from his or her own family, it is the purpose of this chapter to secure as nearly as possible for the child the custody, care, and discipline equivalent to that which should have been given to the child by his or her parents. It is further the intent of the Legislature to reaffirm its commitment to children who are in out-of-home placement to live in the least restrictive family setting promoting normal childhood experiences that is suited to meet the child's or youth's individual needs, and to live as close to the child's family as possible pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 16501.1. Family reunification services shall be provided for expeditious reunification of the child with his or her family, as required by law. If reunification is not possible or likely, a permanent alternative shall be developed.
(b) It is further the intent of the Legislature that all children live with a committed, permanent, and nurturing family. Services and supports should be tailored to meet the needs of the individual child and family being served, with the ultimate goal of maintaining the family, or when this is not possible, transitioning the child or youth to a permanent family or preparing the child or youth for a successful transition into adulthood. When needed, short-term residential treatment center program services are a short-term, specialized, and intensive intervention that is just one part of a continuum of care available for children, youth, young adults, and their families.
(c) It is further the intent of the Legislature to ensure that all pupils in foster care and those who are homeless as defined by the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 USC Sec. 11301 et seq.) have the opportunity to meet the challenging state pupil academic achievement standards to which all pupils are held. In fulfilling their responsibilities to pupils in foster care, educators, county placing agencies, care providers, advocates, and the juvenile courts shall work together to maintain stable school placements and to ensure that each pupil is placed in the least restrictive educational programs, and has access to the academic resources, services, and extracurricular and enrichment activities that are available to all pupils. In all instances, educational and school placement decisions shall be based on the best interests of the child.
(Amended by Stats. 2015, Ch. 773, Sec. 105.)