‚ÄúFoster youth don‚Äôt vote, you have to make this commitment from the heart.‚ÄĚ
– Johnny Madrid, former foster youth
One quarter of all of California‚Äôs foster children are living in Los Angeles County. ¬† Research shows that children entering the foster care system are at risk for mental health issues and substance abuse problems and too often end up in the criminal justice system. ¬†Federal and state legislation sets the policy framework for child welfare services and foster care in California. The Everychild Public Policy Committee advocates on behalf of Los Angeles County‚Äôs foster children and transitioning foster youth (those who have turned 18 and are no longer necessarily eligible for state provided care and support). ¬†Helping foster children not only alleviates their suffering now, it avoids future social costs that result from their neglect.
Public Policy Committee Work in This Area
1. ¬†Legislative Support
2008: ¬†Policy Committee Members supported the Federal Fostering Connections for Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, which provided federal dollars to allow foster youth to remain in care until age 21. ¬†Everychild President, Jacqueline Caster, was part of a group of national experts who convened at Chapin Hall, University of Chicago, to consult with Senator Barbara Boxer, the bill‚Äôs author, on the mechanics of the legislation. ¬†After this bill became law, each state was required to pass legislation to match the federal dollars. ¬†AB 12, signed into law in 2010, was the California bill.
2007: ¬†Policy Committee Members supported state legislation that eliminated the required county match for state funding of the Transitional Housing PLUS program. ¬†THP Plus provides housing and services for aging out youth, and many counties had to previously forego badly needed state funds when they were unable to provide the matching dollars.
2. ¬†Policy Network and Coalition Building: The Policy Committee has identified key people who are advocating for foster children in Los Angeles, including foster care groups and legislative representatives, and is building and maintaining long term alliances with foster care providers and advocacy groups.
3. ¬†Data collection: ¬†The Policy Committee has compiled data on health, education and other issues affecting foster children.
4. ¬†Educating Members: ¬†The Policy Committee has worked with the Everychild Member Salon to sponsor salons and workshops on foster care issues.
Ongoing and Future Initiatives
1. ¬†Continued Support for Federal and State Legislation
- California AB 181: ¬†Foster Youth Mental Health Bill of Right. ¬†This bill will provide additional rights to foster youth relating to mental health services and would require that the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsman provide materials explaining these rights to foster youth.Federal legislation
- U.S. Senate 420: ¬†Foster Care Mentoring Act of 2011 (sponsored by Senator Mary Landrieu and Representative Karen Bass). ¬†This bill will provide funding for mentors to connect children in foster care with responsible caring adults.
2. ¬†Awareness Raising: ¬†Become content experts and publish articles/blogs, expand social media exposure and sponsor salons and workshops.
3. ¬†Support of Community Service Projects: ¬†Help establish a health data base for foster children so that their medical history follows them during transitions.
4. ¬†Collect and Correlate Objective Data To Show That Outcomes Are Worth Supporting