The California bill proposes new standards for court-ordered parenting classes, after a Times investigation

(Liz Moughon/Los Angeles Times)

The California bill proposes new standards for court-ordered parenting classes, after a Times investigation

California Politics

Mackenzie Mays

February 22, 2024

California could impose new standards for court-ordered parenting classes under legislation aimed at addressing the lack of regulation for services often mandated for people suspected of child abuse and neglect.

The legislation, authored by Assemblymember Isaac Bryan (D-Los Angeles), would require all parenting classes ordered by judges in

child welfare

cases must be evidence-based, “culturally competent,” and provided by qualified professionals.

In the findings detailed in the proposed law, Bryan cited a Times investigation published last month that found that court-ordered parenting classes are largely unregulated in California and that counties are not required to use evidence-based services or to meet any standards when assigning programs. .

Although national research shows that some parenting classes can help prevent and perpetuate child abuse

to deserve

The Times investigation found that in California they often amount to an over-prescribed bureaucratic tool with no clear track record of success.

“The fact that [quality] It’s never measured or evaluated or considered as much as it is to make sure parents complete them…I think that does us a disservice,” Bryan told The Times.

this week,

calls the January study ‘enlightening’.

Court-ordered classes have been factors in cases where children were returned to the custody of their guardians and later brutally tortured and murdered. The lack of supervision could put some of California’s most vulnerable children, whose parents are fighting for custody while under investigation by protective services, at risk for even more abuse, according to the Times investigation, based on interviews with more than twenty child welfare experts, including social workers. lawyers, retired judges, parents and caregivers.

In the case of four-year-old Noah Cuatro of Palmdale, who died in 2019, his parents, Ursula Juarez and Jose Cuatro, were ordered to complete parenting classes in 2017 in an effort to regain custody of him after previous abuse allegations.

Their completion of those classes was a factor taken into account when a Los Angeles County Superior Court commissioner ruled in 2018 that it was safe for Noah to return to their care. Juarez and Cuatro were later charged with Noah’s torture and murder.

Records show Cuatro attended classes at a church led by a pastor and not a licensed therapist. Juarez took classes at a community center. None of the programs were highly rated by a state-funded database intended to be a key tool that local officials could rely on when selecting services to ensure children’s safety.

Bryan, who grew up in foster care and authored previous child welfare reform legislation, said the state has failed to provide “meaningful” family reunification services, disproportionately harming children of color and people living in poverty.

The state should not rely on parenting lessons amid a ‘lack of information’ about their quality

effectiveness, impact,

he said, whether that means protecting children from harm or whether it is possible for a child to be “separated from his parents forever.”

In addition to new evidence-based standards, Bryan’s bill, if approved by the Legislature and the governor, would establish a tracking system to measure the outcomes of parenting services and require counties to provide detailed data on success rates and service providers.



Investigations have found that the state fails to ensure that parent education programs meet any standards, that parents facing abuse allegations may take classes deemed by experts to be of low quality, and that counties are not required to use a service database launched by the state years ago.

There is no cost projection yet for the bill, and lawmakers will likely be cautious about approving new spending as the state faces a multibillion-dollar budget deficit.


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