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Foster youth have platform to better understand rights

LAYouthRights.com

OW Staff Writer | 11/20/2020, midnight

Los Angeles County has launched a website to help foster youth understand their rights.

Supervisor Janice Hahn said foster children need to know their rights and those in power need to enforce them.

“With so many challenges facing our foster youth, we need them to know first and foremost that their community is here to protect them and to help them. Empowering them with rights is a good step forward, but we also need to continue to show that their community is here for them if their rights are being violated,'' Hahn said.

LAYouthRights.com is designed to be teen-friendly and highlights more than 40 laws that make up the Foster Youth Bill of Rights. That includes the right for foster youth to review their own case plan at the age of 10, the fact that no one has the right to physically discipline them, and that they cannot be locked in a room, unless they are detained in a juvenile hall or community treatment center.

Caregivers are not allowed to search a young person's room on a whim, but must have a reasonable and legal reason to believe that there is something there that puts the minor's safety or the safety of others at serious risk.

Youth are also entitled to reasonable access to the internet and social media and an allowance. They have a right to make their own decisions about birth control.

“Our goal is for every young person in care, as well as those who love and work in service to them, to be educated about foster youth rights—whether it's through the LAYouthRights.com website, our new handbook or the coloring book,'' said Tamara Hunter, executive director of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families.

Printed materials will also be distributed to youth and caregivers in the weeks ahead. The effort is a collaboration of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson, current and former foster youth and other advocates across California.

Expanded state law under AB 175, sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Gipson, (D-64), requires children and their representatives to be informed of their rights in an age-appropriate manner. Expanded rights to protect LGBTQ+ youth are also included, among other enhancements.