This year has been a busy one for Alliance sponsored legislation. The Alliance is sponsoring legislation to
1. Ensure relative caregivers gain access to all the benefits that are currently available for youth in their care (AB 423)
2. Provide foster youth a forum to enforce their educational rights (AB 379)
3. Give foster youth that cross over from dependency to the delinquency system and are in secure confinement on their 18th birthday the opportunity to participate in extended foster care (SB 12)
The Approved Relative Caregiver Funding Option Program (ARC) was a big step forward in addressing the inequities in how California funds relative foster parents. As a result of ARC, most relatives will be eligible to receive funding equivalent to the basic foster care rate, provided their county has opted into the program. As of June 2, 43 counties have opted into ARC. The Alliance wants to ensure that all relatives gain access to these benefits without having to fill out additional forms. For the 15 remaining counties that have not opted into ARC, the Alliance wants to ensure that relatives in those counties will gain access to CalWORKs funding, as that is the only source of funding available for most children placed with relatives. AB 423 will require the county child welfare agency to provide the relative caregivers with information about the various funding options available and further requires the child welfare agency to determine the child’s eligibility, and initiate funding for, whatever funding the family qualifies to receive, be it AFDC-FC benefits, CalWORKs or ARC. AB 423 passed the full Assembly without a single no vote and is headed to the Senate. Read most updated bill.
California has many laws in place to protect and promote foster youth’s education rights. These laws include, among others, the right to remain in school of origin, the right to immediate enrollment in a new school, and the right to earn partial credits. Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to enforce these rights when they are violated. AB 379 would allow foster youth to utilize the California Department of Education’s Uniform Complaint Procedure to enforce their educational rights. AB 379 passed the full Assembly without a single no vote and is headed to the Senate. Read most updated bill.
The Alliance continues to work on legislation to improve California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act—a landmark law passed in 2010 extending foster care to age 21 for those youth who have a foster care placement order on their 18th birthday. This year, the Alliance is working on passing SB 12, which allows foster youth who crossed over to the delinquency system and are in secure confinement on their 18th birthday to re-enter foster care after age 18, once released from the secure facility. Many of these young people spent years in foster care before getting into trouble, usually on a misdemeanor offense, ending up in secure confinement. But, because of that one mistake, they have missed the protections of extended foster care because they did not have a foster care placement order at the time they turned 18. SB 12 will allow these youth to access extended foster care, thus preventing recidivism, homelessness and other dire outcomes. SB 12 passed unanimously out of the Senate Human Services, Senate Judiciary and Senate Appropriations Committees and will be heard before the full Senate this week. Read most updated bill.