Priority Access to Services and Supports (PASS)

 The Current Situation:

The child welfare system removes children and places them in foster care when their parents cannot provide a safe, stable home.  Often the parents are experiencing mental health or substance use issues, unemployment and economic hardship, domestic violence, and perhaps a host of other fundamental problems.  To reunify with their children, these parents must address all of these issues within a short time frame (usually 12 months).

Most find themselves navigating multiple systems to get the services they need – social services, housing, employment, etc.  To succeed they must establish eligibility, access services, complete programs successfully, find adequate housing for their family, get a job that pays for housing and child-related costs, and so forth.  It can be daunting.

If they are not able to increase their capacity to adequately provide for their safety, their children become wards of the state and too often grow up in a series of foster or group homes. The cost to the state increases across systems over time, and well-being outcomes for these children are typically not what they or society desires for every child.

The state has a moral obligation and fiscal incentive to see these parents succeed in reunification. The Priority Access to Services and Supports (PASS) initiative was established by the California Child Welfare Council, which is co-chaired by Diana Dooley, Secretary of the Health and Human Services Agency, and Justice Vance Raye, Administrative Presiding Justice, Third District Court of Appeal to address this going occurrence. 

Purpose of the PASS Initiative:

The PASS Initiative brings together state and local agencies and others who provide services to ensure that families in reunification have timely access to the services they need. Since these families are typically clients of multiple service systems, there is an opportunity for these systems to collaborate and improve the outcomes each system achieves for these families, as well as the collective impact of the services provided.

 The Vision:

The PASS Initiative is working to create a future in which State and local government, services providers, and others throughout multiple systems work together to streamline access to services for parents in reunification.

Each of the systems recognizes that these families constitute some of their more difficult cases – they come in with complex needs, and to succeed must meet rigorous standards within a short time frame.  Working together, they are providing the support net these families need.

The PASS Initiative vision is that parents in reunification will be:

  1. Readily identified as a special population within each system (social service, housing, employment, courts, corrections/probation).
  2. Immediately fast-tracked through eligibility and into services.
  3. Supported through case management to achieve success within the specified time-frame and become successful parents to their children.
  4. To achieve the nation’s highest reunification success rate and reduce costs dramatically not only in child welfare but across multiple systems.

Ventura County Beta Test:

In 2016, Ventura County was considered as the beta test site by The PASS Initiative co-chairs. This afforded Ventura County’s Human Services Agency and Behavioral Health Department the opportunity to put into action a more robust system of care for parents involved in the child welfare system. Through this beta test, parents in reunification were offered priority access to a therapeutic experience that was for many of these parents the first time they have been able engage in treatment for themselves. Findings from the Ventura County PASS Beta Test Report indicated that 85% of parents assessed through PASS had an appointment set within 5 working days of the initial referral. This 6-month beta test operationalized Ventura’s commitment to not just serve the child, but also the entire family.

PASS Inter-Agency Membership:

State Service Systems: California Departments of Social Services, Health Care Services, Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the Housing and Community Development.

Local Service Systems: California Welfare Directors Association, California Mental Health Directors Association and the Chief Probation Officers of California.

Other Stakeholders: Parent representatives, tribes, courts, foundations and academic institutions.

Additional Resources and Support:

-Please click on any selection below to view additional information.

The work of The PASS Initiative is supported by the Casey Family Programs and other experts made available though partnerships with the California Health and Human Services Agency and the Administrative Office of the Courts.