Foster Care

One issue of importance was the enhancement of helping the lives of 75,000 youth in foster care, as well as children at risk of out-of-home placements. The Budget provided $255 million to promote the successful transition of former foster youth to adulthood and supporting the restructuring of the child welfare system. Legislation of note enacted included: SB 1641 (Soto) ensuring that children and youth in foster care live in family environments by encouraging that youth be placed in the most family-like setting possible and requiring the Department of Social Services to report on efforts to modify state licensing regulations consistent with the bill’s goal; SB 1667 (Kuehl) making it easier for foster parents to participate in dependency hearings by making sure they receive appropriate notices and forms, as well as information on how to provide input and recommendations to the court; AB 1979 (Bass) eliminating barriers for foster youth to make meaningful and lifelong connections with a mentor by waiving the fees for criminal background checks for mentors, thereby encouraging more Californians to become mentors; AB 2195 (Bass) facilitating the expeditious and safe placement of foster youth with relatives and other family members when their primary foster caregiver suddenly becomes unavailable to provide care by establishing standards and procedures for counties to assess and approve relative providers on an emergency basis; AB 2216 (Bass) creating the California Child Welfare Council, within the Health and Human Services Agency, to increase collaboration among agencies and courts that serve foster youth, improve coordination of services, better support the restructuring of child welfare services, and continue to improve outcomes of children and youth in foster care; AB 2480 (Evans) ensuring children and youth have access to an attorney during dependency proceedings at the appellate level, ensuring consistent legal representation by an attorney in the dependency system; AB 2488 (Leno) making it easier for children and youth in foster care to get in touch with siblings by providing intermediaries to facilitate contact between siblings and lowering the age for siblings separated by adoption to consent to have their contact information shared with one another; and AB 2985 (Maze) protecting youth in foster care from identity theft by requiring county welfare departments to request credit checks for foster youth who are 16 or older, and providing referrals to credit counseling organizations if the credit check discloses any negative information.