Step Up Legislative Priorities in 2017

SB 233: Caregiver Access to Youth’s Education Records

Children in foster care already face a number of challenges while completing their education. Prohibiting caregivers from accessing their educational records only puts foster youth at a further disadvantage.

SB 233 clarifies that caregivers have the right to access their child’s current and most recent education records in order to help address their child’s educational needs, monitor their academic progress, and ensure the child is receiving the educational services they need. SB 233 also provides a technical statutory alignment with the Rules of Court, requiring Child Welfare case plans to include necessary educational contact information in the child’s health and education summary.

AB 604: Ensuring Access to Extended Foster Care

California’s Extended Foster Care program was intended to provide a safety net for all youth who were in foster care at age 18. Youth should not be excluded from receiving extended foster care benefits due to technicalities and delays in their case.

AB 604 clarifies  that youth who were ordered into a foster care placement and were under that order on their 18th birthday are eligible to participate in extended foster care, even if their case did not reach full adjudication before they turned 18. This bill also ensures that youth who are eligible to receive Kin-GAP or AAP beyond the age of 18 but who were not actually receiving that payment when they turned 18 may re-enter foster care if the adoptive parent or guardian dies or ceases to provide support to the youth after age 18.

AB 1164: Establishing the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

One of the main barriers our child welfare system faces in finding family placements for young children is lack of child care support. AB 1164 creates an Emergency Child Care Bridge Program that ensures caregivers have immediate access to quality child care when a child is placed with them. AB 1164 provides an emergency child care voucher to help caregivers pay for child care for up to 6 months after a child has been placed with them. AB 1164 also provides caregivers with child care navigators to help them find a child care program quickly, and to help caregivers develop a long term- child care plan. The bill also provides trauma-informed training for child care providers in order to ensure that abused and neglected children receive the sensitive care that they might need.

In addition to the bill, there is a corresponding $31 million budget request pending that was heard by the Assembly Budget Subcommittee 1 on Health and Human Services and the Senate Budget Subcommittee 3 on Health and Human Services. Several caregivers joined the Alliance at the State Capitol to testify in support of this budget request. Committee members have taken the request under consideration. The Committees will decide in the coming week whether to include the child care bridge program in their respective budgets.

UPDATE: Major victory on childcare may help more families step up to care for children in foster care

SB 213: Criminal History Exemptions

SB 213 streamlines the criminal history exemption process for prospective caregivers and simplifies criminal history law by aligning the state and federal government lists of non-exemptible crimes. Federal and state lists of non- exemptible crimes currently overlap to create a complex and confusing criminal exemption system that creates unnecessary delays in placing children in foster care with relatives and limits the number of placements available for youth in foster care. Placement with any person who has been convicted of a serious or violent felony and convictions dealing with drugs or assault and battery will continue to be prohibited without exception.