The Alliance’s policy team, based in Sacramento, monitors, analyzes, and responds to legislative issues that affect youth in foster care. For current information about pending legislation, sign up for our monthly policy emails. Meanwhile, here is an overview of pending and recent legislation:
SB 233: Caregiver Access to Youth’s Education Records
Without access to current academic records, it is extremely difficult for caregivers to help the child and provide the Child Welfare Agency with updates on educational standing and progress. 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 passed out of the Senate Education Committee on March 28, 2017 and will be heard next by the Senate Human Services Committee on April 25, 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 or who had an order for foster care by the time they turned 18. Youth should not be excluded from receiving extended foster care benefits due to technicalities and delays in their case.
AB 604 solves this issue by clarifying 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 604 has passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee and will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If you would like to help support AB 604, please send in a support letter. A sample support letter with instructions on where to send it to can be found here.
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. Many childcare programs are at full capacity and others have long enrollment windows that prove difficult for foster caregivers due to the lack of predictability around when a child may enter care. If a potential caregiver cannot access child care, often it becomes nearly impossible for them to care for a young child. Providing caregivers with childcare promises to expand the number and quality of family homes available as foster care placements.
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.
AB 1164 has been passed by the Assembly Human Services Committee and will next be heard by the Assembly Appropriations Committee. If you would like to help support AB 1164, please send in a support letter. A sample support letter with instructions on where to send it to can be found here.
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.
SB 213 has passed through the Senate Human Services Committee and will next be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on April 25, 2017.