State-by-state legislation won by foster youth-led groups

Christie Renick/ March 19, 2015/ General, Resources



Below is a partial list of state legislation that foster youth-led organizations and Youth Advisory Councils have passed since the 90’s. It’s a big list. Fifty-three pieces of law, most by FYA network members. This list is incomplete, so please tell us which groups and which state laws should be added to this list.


California — California Youth Connection (CYC)

AB 2691: Allows someone other than a child’s parents or guardians to sign the child’s application for a driver’s license. Probation officers and social workers can sign a driver’s license application without liability for accidents or tickets the child may incur. Any other person who signs the application will be jointly liable with the child for any damages resulting from the negligent or wrongful act of the child in driving a motor vehicle. (1992)

AB 1198: Creation of in-care transitional housing option for foster youth 17 years of age or older and in their last year of high school. This is the Transitional Housing Placement Program. Youth also have ability to live in apartments or houses with close monitoring and supervision from the county or from a private agency. (1993)

AB 2196: When a child is going to be adopted, bill requires the social worker to include a discussion of sibling visitation and contact in the child’s case plan. Bill authorizes the court to include in an adoption order provisions that will facilitate sibling contact as long as the adoptive parents do not object. (1997)

SB 933: California gained fist foster care ombudsman, office has statewide toll free number to register complaints or concerns regarding the foster care system. (1998)

HR 3443: Law doubles the amount of money the federal government allocates to states for independent living programs; gives states the option of extending Medi-Cal to age 21; requires states to use some of these funds for former foster youth under age 21; and allows states to use up to 30% of the federal money for housing for emancipating foster youth. (1999)

AB 2877: Federal program that allows states to extend Medi-Cal for former foster youth until age of 21. This law eliminates the re-application process that emancipated youth previously had to go through in order to get health care. (2000)

AB 1987: Law requires social workers to include in court reports a section on the child’s sibling relationship and the plans for visitation of siblings. Law requires social workers to notify children on their caseload of significant events in the lives of siblings. (2000)

AB 427: Creation of STEP Supportive Transitional Emancipation Program, which allows counties to provide monthly financial support to emancipated foster youth as long as they are attending school or working towards the goals outlines in their TILPs. Law makes changes to the state’s Transitional Housing Placement Program that encourages providers to create or expand housing programs for current and former foster youth. (2001)

AB 899: Consolidates all of the rights of foster children into a common location in California law. It also requires social workers to inform youth of their rights at least once every 6 months. Law requires the list of rights to be posted in facilities that care for six or more foster children. (2001)

AB 1979: Creation of statewide regulations for the Independent Living Program. (2002)

AB 490: Improves public school procedures so that foster youth have a better chance to succeed in school by requiring that youth be not forced to change schools unnecessarily, won’t lose credits and can immediately enroll and quickly receive records at a new school. Bill also requires designation of a foster youth education liaison in each district. (2003)

AB 408: Requires social workers to ask youth over the age of 10 who live in group homes who is important to them and to take actions to support those relationships. Bill strengthens a youth’s right to attend their court hearings, and the right of youth to participate in social and extracurricular activities. The new law also allows funds to be used to convene a team of individual’s important to the youth to develop a transition plan. (2003)

AB 1858: Thousands of foster youth attending non-public schools will finally have the opportunity to receive a quality education. Bill seeks to improve the quality of education provided at non-public schools by requiring them to meet the same standards for appropriate curricula, qualified teachers and adequate materials and supplies that public schools must meet. Non-public schools are monitored similarly to public schools to ensure they are offering appropriate educational services. (2004)

AB 1412: Requires social workers to ask all foster youth, not just those in group homes, about who is important to them, and take actions to maintain those relationships. Bill gives youth the right to be involved in the plans for their life and well-being by allowing them to have input into and participate in the development of their permanency case plan after the age of 12. (2005)

AB 1633: All foster youth will have the chance to finish their high school diploma or equivalency before leaving foster care. Allows foster youth working on high school equivalency to stay in foster care until age 19. Bill will also help more foster youth access social security or SSI/SSP benefits and ensure those benefits are managed appropriately. (2005)

AB 2489: More foster youth will be prepared for college, and have increased financial resources to attend. California budget funds $8.2million for expansion of the Foster Youth Services program and $5.7million for a state complement to the ETV federal funds. (2006)

AB 1393: Ensures foster youth will receive priority housing on college campuses. (2009)

AB 12: Fostering Connections to Success Act extends foster care services until age 21. (2010)

SB 342: Ensures foster youth receive the mandated periodic visits from their social worker at the site of their home placement unless otherwise requested by youth. (2013)



Connecticut – Statewide Youth Advisory Board

Act12-17: law enabling siblings to have visitation rights. Law mandates that the YAC work with the commissioner to develop a Sibling Bill of Rights. (2014) Florida:



Florida – Florida Youth Shine (FYS)

SB 2114: Medicaid coverage to all youth aging out of care to age 21, new means for youth to open bank accounts and obtain driver’s licenses, and expanded eligibility for the Road to Independence. (2007)

FL Statute 39.0139: protects youth from unsupervised visits with parents or caregiver’s accused of sexually abusing them. (2007)

FL Statute 402.56: Bringing together the head of every state department touching the lives of children with a mandate to hold public meetings and create improved and child focused public policy for children and youth. (2007)

SB 1128: Removes barriers to school enrollment, clarifies who can make education decisions for foster children and assures the appointment of surrogate parents for children with disabilities. (2009)

SB 126: Provides current and former foster youth and their caregivers with better access to records. (2009)

HB 215: Quality Parenting Act ensures normalcy for youth in care. (2013)

SB 1036: Extending Foster Care to age 21. (2013)


Iowa – Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP)

Iowa Statutes 232.150: Sealing of Juvenile Delinquency Records: In a juvenile delinquent case, the court, shall schedule a hearing to be held two years after the date of the last official action, or the date the child becomes eighteen years of age, whichever is later, to seal the juveniles records if there have been no further. (2006)

Iowa Code 232.108: The Department of Human Services is mandated to place siblings together whenever possible, even if it means working harder than they previously would have, to place siblings in the same home. If siblings cannot be placed together, the Department of Human Services is to show the court, in writing, why this is not a possibility at the current time. Regular reviews are to include the possibility of moving siblings back together. When siblings cannot be placed together, visits are to be facilitated as often as possibly between the siblings, NOT continent upon parent visits. DHS is again required to provide, in writing, to the court, why the children are not being given visits and again, reviews need to happen regularly to reevaluate the possibility of safe visits. Money, time and distance are not acceptable excuses to deny sibling visits. The grandparent visitation bill was attached to this document and provides grandparents with similar visitation rights as siblings. (2007)

PL 110-351 Fostering Connections Act: Immediate transfer of educational records – when a child is placed in foster care; school records need to be immediately available to DHS. This allows the child to be enrolled in their new school immediately. Juvenile Court and Education can communicate electronically to speed up school enrollment for foster youth. (2008)

Iowa Code 232c: Youth who are 16 years or older can be emancipated if they ask for it but they must be able to demonstrate they can support themselves and can handle the responsibilities of living on their own to a judge. (2009)

HF 242: The bill allows the transfer of guardianship of a child to a custodian after the dispositional hearing if the person receiving guardianship meets the statutory definition of a custodian, the person receiving guardianship has assumed responsibility for the child prior to the filing of the child in need of assistance petition and has maintained responsibility for the child after the filing of the H.F. 2421 petition, and the parent of the child either does not appear at the dispositional hearing or the parent appears and does not object to the transfer of guardianship and agrees to waive the requirement for making reasonable efforts to prevent or eliminate the need for removal of the child from the child’s home. Relative or long-term foster families can become guardians to youth who don’t want or aren’t eligible for adoption or termination of parental rights. Guardians would be able to get monetary assistance and youth would get medical coverage. Guardians could sign papers that up to now only DHS or biological parents could sign. (2010)

SF 362: It will notify adoptive parents if a sibling of their adopted child comes into DHS foster care so that child can be placed with their sibling as a foster or adoptive placement. Now adoptive parents will get notice if a sibling to their adopted child comes into DHS so that they may be a placement option for that child in order to keep siblings together. (2013)

Title 19: Iowa Law extends titles 19 to age 21 for former foster youth, giving them further access to Medicaid. (2013)

House File 590: The law states if the child is in danger then DHS charges the parent with abuse and put the child in protective foster care or placement. If the child/children are not in danger and they – were neglected because of issues other than abuse than that would be a cause for Differential Response. This puts services in the families’ home without bringing charges against them or removing the children. (2013)

HF 446 Human Services Appropriations Bill: Training school personnel on trauma informed care and suicide prevention. A Child Welfare Services Committee is created. The committee shall perform the following duties: a. Review the array of child welfare services in the state. b. Identify options for improving the coordination and collaboration between the public and private entities involved with child welfare services. c. Direct special attention to children’s mental and behavioral health services. d. Identify policies to support the growth and expansion of community-based pediatric integrated health homes. e. Identify options to support continuous improvement of pediatric mental health services and innovation by service providers of such services at the state and community levels. f. Consider proposals for creation of a center of collaborative children’s mental and behavioral health services. g. Evaluate the adequacy of the public funding of child welfare services and identify options to address shortfalls and for shifting resources. (2013)

House File 2421: Transferring of Guardianships from Juvenile Court to the Probate Court: this legislation allows a juvenile court judge who has placed a child in a guardianship with a relative or other suitable adult to transfer the case to probate court and close the juvenile case. This allows the youth to have the courts, social workers and everyone else “out of his/her life” after a permanent placement with a relative or other adult. The guardian will fill out a form each year to report on the well being of the youth and the youth can contact the court at any time if the living arrangement isn’t going well. (2014)


Nebraska — Project Everlast

LB216: Extends services to youth aging out of care until age 21. (2013)

LB 647: Bars the state from discriminating based on sexual orientation in foster homes. (2015)


Oklahoma — Youth Advisory Council

Bill 1078: Legislation will expand an independent living program that helps children make the transition in the system to their adult lives, updates requirements for foster parents and group homes to ensure that the child is engaged in typical childhood activities, and revises protocols used to deal with runaway children and child trafficking victims, according to a news release. (2015) 


Oregon — Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC)

HR 3464: Requires Department of Human Services to provide ward with assistance obtaining driving privileges as part of case plan to transition into independent living. (2009)

HB 3664: Expands health insurance coverage to youth who age out of foster care until age of 21. (2010)

HB 3471-A: Creates tuition waivers for foster youth in public universities and community colleges. (2011)

SB 123: Ensures every child and youth in foster care gets a copy of the rights and will create a position at the Governors Advocacy Office for a Foster Care Ombudsmen. (2013)


Washington — Mockingbird Society

Bill 2592: Extended Foster Care, officially went into effect, allowing youth in foster care the opportunity to maintain safe housing until age 21 to pursue their college or vocational education. (2012)

SB 5405: Extends the foster care program to allow youth participating in programs or activities that reduce barriers to employment to remain in care until age 21. (2013)

SB 5389: States that visits between siblings in foster care can no longer be restricted as a form of punishment or behavior control. (2013)

SB5147: States that homeless youth shelters now have the flexibility they need to effectively serve youth-in-crisis and safely reunite then with their families. (2013)

E2SSB 5405: Extended Foster Care expands current program, which allows youth pursuing their secondary or post-secondary education to remain in care until age 21, to include youth struggling to find adequate employment after aging out. (2013)

ESSB 6479: Allows foster parents to make decisions based on a reasonable and prudent parent standard, defined as thoughtful parental decision-making. This standard is intended to maintain a child’s health, safety and best interest while encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth. Without this standard many activities, including field trips, school sports and sleepovers require State approval, typically from the young person’s social worker. This often results in lengthy delays that prevented foster youth from engaging in activities that their peers took for granted. (2014)

E2SSB 6126: Calls for youth in care to be assigned legal counsel six months after becoming “legally free,” meaning they are essentially orphans. (2015)

HB 1436: Creates an Office of Homeless Youth Programs (Office) within the Department of Commerce. Requires the Office to lead efforts to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth with a focus on four stated service priorities: (1) stable housing; (2) education and employment; (3) permanent connections; and (4) social and emotional well-being. Authorizes the Office to provide the management and oversight of HOPE Centers, Crisis Residential Centers, street youth services, and Independent Youth Housing Programs. (2015)

HB 1735: Expands eligibility for extended foster care services to include youth who are not currently able to participate in a qualifying activity due to a documented medical condition. (2015)

 Download a PDF of this list here.

Prepared March 2015