YEE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO ASSIST FOSTER YOUTH

Bills will ensure in-home visits and provide critical documents for employment and college

SACRAMENTO – Today, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo), Chair of the Senate Committee on Human Services, introduced legislation to assist California’s foster youth.

Current law requires social workers to visit foster youth on a monthly basis; however, those visits are often not in the child’s foster home or group home. Yee’s SB 342 will require that the visits be in the home, while permitting youth to request private discussion outside of the home.

Data from the Department of Social Services shows that nearly 24 percent of visits occur outside the home leading to instances where a placement has not been visited by a social worker for an extended period of time.

“By requiring more visits at the home, we can ensure the child’s basic needs are being addressed,” said Yee. “Regular home visits will help protect our foster youth from neglect and abuse.”

“This legislation is critical to protecting children and youth in foster care by strengthening monthly visitation requirements while preserving the rights of youth to meet confidentially away from the home,” said Joseph Tietz, Executive Director of California Youth Connection. “California must ensure that children and youth placed in foster homes or group homes are safe in those placements.  Regular in home visits are an essential protection for these vulnerable youth.”

“The foster care system must be vigilant in ensuring the safety of our most vulnerable young citizens,” said Leslie Starr Heimov, Executive Director of Children’s Law Center Los Angeles. “This bill will help us do a better job of protecting those who cannot protect themselves.”

Yee also introduced SB 343 to ensure that foster youth who are at least 16 years old be provided with critical documents, such as their social security card and copy of their birth certificate, that are necessary to obtaining employment and applying for college.

Additionally, SB 343 provides that foster youth who are at least 18 years old be provided with other specified information – regardless of whether dependency is being terminated – including detailed information pertaining to the youths dependency history, any applicable death certificates of the youths parents, an advance health care directive form, and other essential information that was previously required at dependency termination proceedings.

“Foster youth often already face huge obstacles to obtaining a job or a college degree,” said Yee. “We should not be compounding those problems by denying them the documentation they need to succeed or even just to survive.”

“This important bill will further our goal as a state to ensure that older foster youth are supported during their transition to independence, and ultimately more prepared to be out of the child welfare system and on their own,” said Heimov.

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Contact: Adam J. Keigwin,
(916) 651-4008