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.

SB 233 was signed by Governor Brown on October 12, 2017.

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 alcohol, assault and battery, child abuse or neglect, or violence will continue to be prohibited without exception.

SB 213 was signed by Governor Brown on October 12, 2017.

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 removes technical barriers to participation in extended foster care by ensuring that youth who are in a temporary foster care placement order on their 18th birthday are able to be adjudicated a dependent after they turn 18, if doing so is in the best interest of the youth. In addition, the bill ensures that youth who anticipated receiving support until 21 through extended Kin-GAP or AAP are able to exercise their right to re-enter care if that guardian or adoptive parent ceases to support the youth after age 18. Currently, youth have the right to re-enter after a failed guardianship or adoption but only once the Kin-GAP or AAP benefits have been terminated. This creates a barrier to exercise the right to re-enter that is beyond the youth’s control, since the funding goes to the individual who is no longer supporting the youth. AB 604 will allow youth to petition the court to re-enter regardless of whether the funding has terminated, permitting the youth to get before a judge who will make the final determination as to whether re-entry is appropriate.

AB 604 was signed by Governor Brown on October 12, 2017.

AB 1164: Establishing the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

The bill is no longer in the legislative process because the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program was approved as part of the 2017-18 budget. The governor approved $31 million in the state budget to create the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program. With this funding, counties will be able to provide caregivers and parenting youth with immediate access to up to six months of crucial child care services. The program will also provide child care navigators to help families develop long-term child care plans. Lastly, the program will provide funding to deliver trauma-informed training to child care programs for better service to foster youth.

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