By Daniel Heimpel, Fostering Media Connections
The federal foster care system, in essence, is a multi-level, multi-state system of laws and policies aimed at serving the “best interests” of children who are removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.
Beyond the federal system, California has many of its own legislative processes aimed at protecting children from maltreatment and improving the lives of foster youth. The California Department of Social Services’ Children and Family Services Division makes sure that the state’s 58 counties are following both state and federal law affecting foster youth. Like New York, and a handful of other states, each and every California county has its own public child welfare agency. In Southern California, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is the largest public child welfare agency, with 8,000 employees and budget of $2.2 billion.
Today in California, there are many laws, policies and legislation being implemented or enforced impacting the lives of children, youth and teens in foster care. These can be broken down into three major areas: safety, permanency and well-being.
In the area of safety, how does legislation impact foster youth?
When did the issue of safety first become an important concern for foster care legislation?
What is the Reasonable Efforts Standard and how is it still in effect today?
What are some examples of legislation on permanency in effect today?
What is Assembly Bill 403 and how does it impact foster youth today?
What are some examples of legislation on well-being in effect today?
A Personal Perspective on Law & Policy:
For kids in foster care, the law impacts every aspect of life. While Josh spent his adolescent years in and out of foster care, he never dreamed of working to improve foster care policy. Today, he’s an advocate with the California Youth Connection. “Legislation is very important. If you dig down to the source of our life, it’s the law.”Read Josh’s story