Foster Youth Rights

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When children and youth are removed from their families of origin and placed into foster care, the foster care system takes responsibility for ensuring their safety, permanency and well-being. There are many federal and state laws in place that outline how this must be accomplished and the corresponding rights of young people in foster care. In California, some of these rights are summarized in the Foster Youth Bill of Rights, which the law requires group homes to post.

Advocates should be familiar with children and youth’s rights so they can ensure the rights are respected and review them with youth in a developmentally appropriate way. Below are resources for understanding and helping to actualize these rights.

Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman for California

Information on the rights of children and youth in foster care. This office can answer questions and investigate complaints about children’s rights. Youth and advocates can contact them toll-free at 1-877-846-1602.

Community Care Licensing

This division of the California Department of Social Services oversees licensing of foster caregivers and facilities. They accept and investigate complaints and can issue citations or fines or revoke licenses.

Regional office list:

Administrative Office of the Courts

Every Child, Every Hearing, Published by the Center for Families, Children & the Courts, Administrative Office of the Courts, Judicial Council of California, January 2007. The booklet includes information about children’s rights in foster care.

Youth Law Center

This non-profit law firm works to protect children in foster care and juvenile justice systems from abuse. They usually work for systems-change (and generally do not represent individuals). YLC publishes Legal Rights of Teens In Oot-of-Home Care and other resources.

National Center for Youth Law

This Oakland based non-profit law firm works to ensure that low-income children have the resources, support, and opportunities they need. NCYL publishes Fight for Your Rights and other resources relevant to foster care.

My Life My Rights

Public Counsel has a fabulous resource for foster youth education, employment, identity theft, and issues related to transitioning out of foster care.