Legislative Update 2015

AB 423: Enhancements to the Approved Relative Caregiver Program

AB 423 is a clean-up bill that addresses the state’s new Approved Relative Caregiver Program. AB 423 will ensure that families start receiving CalWORKs benefits immediately upon the placement of the child(ren) into their home by requiring counties to initiate the funding. This will ensure that families do not have to go months without any funding while waiting for their home to be approved. Under AB 423 all families would get assessed for all available funding whether that be through federal foster care, the new ARC program or, for counties that have not opted into ARC, through CalWORKs. Finally, AB 423 places time limits on how long funding can be delayed while the county works to approve the home in order to ensure that families will begin receiving the appropriate benefit within 30 days or, if there is an issue with the background check that needs cleared, within 120 days. AB 423 recently passed through the Senate Human Services Committee and now heads to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, AB 423 was held in suspense and will not be made into law.  However, aspects of 423 are now included in AB 403, namely the requirement that counties use the expedited CalWORKs application to establish eligibility for a subgroup of foster children placed with relatives.  The Step Up Coalition is committed to building upon these provisions and continuing to work toward a system that treats our relative caregivers in an equal manner to our non-relatives.

SB 12: Ensuring Extended Foster Care Benefits for Youth Served by Juvenile Probation The goal of Fostering Connections was to assist foster youth, or non-minor dependents, in their transition into adulthood, by providing them with the opportunity to remain in foster care for up to three additional years in order to prepare for adult life. Unfortunately, the foster youth who were in secure confinement on their 18th birthday were left out and are not currently eligible for the extended benefits. SB 12 will allow these youth to re-enter foster care once they are released from the secure setting, thus preventing recidivism, homelessness and other dire outcomes. SB 12 has passed through the Assembly Human Services and Judiciary Committee and is pending before the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Read our most updated version of the bill.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, SB 12 was held by in suspense by the  Assembly Appropriations Committee and will not move forward.

AB 379: Foster Youth Educational Rights Last month, Governor Brown signed AB 379 allowing foster and homeless youth to lodge complaints when they feel their education rights have been violated. These rights, which seek to address high rates of school instability that foster youth experience as a result of multiple changes in their foster placements, include the right to remain in their school of origin, immediate enrollment, enrollment in their local comprehensive school, partial credits, graduate with state minimum requirements rather than district requirements when a transfer occurred following the second year of high school and the student cannot reasonably complete district requirements, and access the same academic resources, services, and extracurricular activities that are available to all pupils.

“Unfortunately, these educational rights, which they’ve had for more than a decade, are routinely ignored,” notes the bill’s author Assemblymember Rich Gordon. Because the law did not provide a mechanism to enforce these rights, foster youth had no recourse when violations occurred. With the passage of AB 379, foster youth will now be able to file complaints under the California Department of Education’s Uniform Complaint Procedure when they feel their educational rights have been violated. In addition, the law requires the state to inform foster youth of their right to file a complaint and to identify the contact person who is responsible for receiving the complaints. “Inclusion of the rights of foster and homeless children into the UCP will give children one more mechanism to help them stand up for their educational needs and complete their academic course,” says Gordon.

The Alliance is proud to have sponsored AB 379 applauds Assemblymember Gordon and Governor Brown for their leadership in getting the bill enacted. For more information click to read this San Jose Mercury News article.

UPDATE: This bill was approved by the Governor in October of 2015