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Highlights

GAO was requested to review the placement of foster children with members of the Peoples Temple. After finding that some of the children had guardians, GAO examined guardianship children in California.

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Recommendations

Recommendations for Executive Action

Agency Affected Recommendation Status
Department of Health and Human Services 1. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to encourage California to reissue regulations governing guardianship situations and require compliance by county social services agencies.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 2. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to determine whether other States are erroneously including guardianship children as federally eligible for foster care. If so, it should act to identify and recover the overpayments.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 3. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to work with California to see that Federal funding is provided only for children placed in licensed facilities that fully meet State health and welfare licensing requirements.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of State 4. The Secretary of State should require the U.S. Passport Office to adopt policies and procedures to verify, before issuance of passports, that where required by State law, guardians have obtained court approval to take their wards outside the country for travel and/or residence abroad.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 5. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to encourage California to reiterate to the probate court judges the importance of county social workers' preparing suitability reports on petitioners for nonrelative guardianship children.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 6. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to encourage California to help the county social services agencies expand criteria on suitability reports to cover more fully the physical well-being of children, such as criminal checks and health certificates for petitioners and fire clearances for petitioners' homes.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 7. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to follow up on Federal overpayments for ineligible guardianship children and work with California to identify and make retroactive adjustments for the overpayments in the three counties reviewed and the counties not reviewed.
Closed - Implemented
When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
Department of Health and Human Services 8. The Secretary of HHS should direct the Office of Human Development Services to issue instructions to all of the States notifying them that guardianship children are not eligible for Federal reimbursement for foster care maintenance payments when responsibility for such children is removed from the State title IV-A agency.
Closed - Not Implemented
Recent legislation has satisfied GAO concern over this recommendation.

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