Governor Signs ACR-Sponsored Legislation
On September 23, 2013, Governor Brown signed SB 528, a measure supporting pregnant and parenting teens, into law. The bill, which was co-sponsored by the Alliance, ensures that complete and accurate data on parenting minor and nonminor dependents is collected, as well as authorizing child welfare agencies to connect these parents with social workers or resource specialists. It also encourages child welfare agencies to hold specialized conferences to assist pregnant or parenting minor or nonminor dependents with planning for beneficial and healthy parenting.
In addition to this, the bill authorizes a foster youth’s social worker to inform the youth of his or her right as a minor to consent to and receive certain health services. These types of care include mental health treatment, treatment for substance abuse, diagnosis and treatment of sexual assault, and medical care relating to the prevention and treatment of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. This bill would ensure that social workers are able to provide foster youth with medically accurate information about sexual development and reproductive health. Overall, the bill is an important victory that stands to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies for foster youth and better enable foster youth who are parenting to be successful.
Legislation to Help Foster Youth Graduate from High School Signed by Governor Brown
On September 23, 2013, Governor Brown also signed AB 216 into law. The bill is intended to assist foster youth in earning their high school diplomas in a timely manner, and for ensuring that they qualify for admission to California’s state colleges and universities. Students in foster care are more likely than other high school students to encounter difficulties graduating on time, with foster youth, on average, transferring schools three or more times while in foster care, resulting in many of them falling behind.
AB 216, which enjoyed bipartisan support in the legislature, enacts various measures to enable foster youth to successfully prepare themselves for college and to graduate from high school in a timely fashion. The bill requires school districts to exempt foster youth who transfer schools any time following the completion of the pupil’s second year of high school from the district requirements that are in addition to the statewide coursework requirements for graduation, unless the school district finds that the pupil would be reasonably capable of completing both sets of requirements in time for graduation. The bill would also require school districts to permit foster youth capable of graduating in five years to remain in school for a fifth year to complete the requirements, at the option of the youth or the educational rights holder.