10 facts every foster youth should know!
1. Go to Your Court Hearings!
You have the right to attend your court hearings and talk to the judge. Court hearings are your chance to let the judge know what you need. The judge wants to hear from you and will take what you say seriously. All foster youth need to play an active part in making decisions about their life. Also, make sure you get copies of all of your court reports. For more details, go to Dealing with the Courts.
2. Health Insurance to 21!
Foster youth who emancipated from foster care on their 18th birthday can have Medi-Cal health insurance until they turn 21, regardless of how much money they have or whether they are working or not. Contact your case worker to find out what you need to do to get coverage. For more information, click on Health.
3. Money Available for Emancipated Foster Youth!
The Governor has budgeted money for emancipated foster youth to help cover the cost of housing, college, transportation, or other needs. There is also money available for providing housing for former foster youth.
4. See Your Case Plan and Your Court Report!
You have the right to see your case file, case plan, and court reports if you are 12 or over. Make sure you see your case plan. If it doesn’t include everything you need, let your social worker know. It is important that you be your own advocate and speak up for what you need. Go to Dealing with the Courts for more information.
5. Get Your Driver's License!
While you are in foster care, you can get your driver’s license if your guardian or biological parent signs the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) form. DMV will also accept the signature of a foster parent, grandparent, adult sibling, aunt or uncle who is living with you. If you get your own auto liability insurance, you can have your social worker or probation officer sign that form. Click on Drivers Licenses to learn more.
6. Participate in ILP!
Make sure you participate in the Independent Living Program, and take advantage of all the services such as the Transitional Housing Placement Program. Twenty-seven counties have this program which allows some foster youth 17 or older to learn self-sufficiency skills while living in an apartment in the community and being supervised by the youth’s case worker and a care provider. In ILP, you can learn valuable skills that you will need when you emancipate. You will also have access to many financial incentives and special programs. If you don’t participate in ILP, you may miss out on services that can help you get a computer, earn money, find jobs and housing, or take advantage of scholarship opportunities for school. For a listing of your local ILP contact, click here.
7. Get Involved! Get Involved in the California Youth Connection.
The California Youth Connection is an organization that advocates for current and former foster youth ages 14-24 with chapters in many counties throughout California. See if your county has a chapter and go to the meetings. If you don’t have a chapter, contact the CYC statewide office at 1-800-397-8236 to find out about starting one. CYC is a great way to find out about the new changes in foster care programs that affect you. By getting involved with CYC, you can develop leadership and public speaking skills while helping make the foster care system better. You will also meet other foster teens with goals similar to yours. For more ideas, go to Get Involved.
8. Free Money for School!
You are eligible for free money for college. Foster youth can receive financial aid that can help pay for tuition as well as many living expenses, such as rent and transportation. Contact your county ILP program for more information. You can also find out more by going to Chafee Grants.
9. Foster Youth Have Rights! Know Your Rights!
Foster youth have many rights in care. If you don’t know them, you can’t speak out when they are being violated. You can read more about your rights in the Rights section web-page.
10. Seal Your Court File When You Turn 18!
You have the right to ask the court to seal your case file. If you are looking for a job, this can be important if you have a delinquency record. Click on Dealing with the Courts for more information.
For more information on these subjects, call the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson at 1-877-846-1602.
GET THE FACTS
Recognizing that 18 was too young for most young adults to be without support, a bill was signed into law in September 2010 giving foster youth the option to remain in foster care and receive services and supports until age 20. The bill is called the California Fostering Connections to Success Act, and is also known as Assembly Bill 12 (AB 12).
Starting January 1, 2012, young adults are allowed to remain in care after they turn 18. This additional time will help them:
- Prepare for their futures through additional educational and employment training opportunities.
- Find and secure consistent and safe housing.
- Build permanent connections with caring adults, including relatives, mentors and community members.
Remaining in foster care is a choice. Foster youth can decide to leave foster care when they turn 18. They can also change their minds and return to foster care in order to receive extended services and supports at any time, provided they meet the requirements.
Foster youth who choose to remain in foster care after 18 are considered non-minor dependents and they need to be doing one of the following to qualify for services:
- Completing high school or an equivalent program.
- Enrolled at least half-time in college, community college or a vocation program.
- Employed at least 80 hours a month.
- Participating in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment.
Young adults who are unable to do one of the above requirements because of a medical condition are also eligible for services and supports.
There are a number of living arrangement options available to young adults who continue in foster care after age 18. These options include:
- The home of an approved relative, a non-related extended family member or a legal guardian.
- A licensed foster family home or a certified Foster Family Agency (FFA) home.
- A Transitional Housing Placement Plus Foster Care (THP+FC). This is a new housing option that will be similar to the current THP-Plus program.
- A Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP). This is a new housing option that can be an apartment with or without a roommate, or a room-and-board living arrangement, such as a college dorm. These placements will need to be approved and supervised by the county, and young adults may be able to receive foster care payments directly if they choose this living arrangement.
- A Group Home Placement. Young adults can choose to live in their group homes until age 19 or until they graduate from high school, whichever comes first.
WE’LL BE BY YOUR SIDE
Young adults who receive extended services and support to help ease the transition to adulthood also have responsibilities. They include:
- Creating a Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP). With the help of a social worker or probation officer, young adults will develop a plan to reach their educational and/or professional goals. The young adults and social worker or probation officer will meet monthly to track the plan and discuss how to achieve those goals.
- Going to Court. Young adults will be assigned an attorney and will need to attend court hearings every 6 months to help monitor their progress.