Healthy Futures for Foster Youth (2021)
California Strengthens Reproductive Health Equity for Youth in Foster Care
Three significant investments were included in the 2021-2022 California State budget that improve upon existing laws to strengthen reproductive health equity for youth in foster care:
- Establish the Expectant Parent Payment (AB 153) – Support expecting foster youth so they may prepare for birth of their child by providing a monthly $900 supplement three months before the expected birth of the child.
- AB 153 also requires juvenile judges and attorneys are informed that youth have received information and education on reproductive and sexual health
- First-in-the-Nation Reproductive Sexual Health Reporting Requirements (AB 172) – strengthens reproductive health equity by creating an important data provision to better ensure foster youth are receiving the health care they need, want and have a right to.
NCYL’s efforts to strengthen reproductive health equity for youth in California’s foster care have resulted California laws that now require: 1) child welfare case workers ensure foster youth receive the same comprehensive sexual health as all other youth; 2) case workers inform foster youth of the sexual health and education programs and services available to them and remove barriers to access; 3) county social workers, certain foster caregivers, and juvenile judges receive education on how to support the healthy development of youth in care; 4) caregivers support youth decision-making and access to education and care; and 5) the monthly rate paid for parenting minors and nonminor dependents include an infant supplement once a child is born.
In 2021, minor changes were needed to effectively implement and fully realize the vision of these reproductive health equity laws.
- Extend support to expectant young parents (AB 153): Before 2021, the infant supplement began only after the child was born. The time just prior to birth is a critical opportunity to prevent negative health outcomes and support nutrition, parenting and birthing skills, and prepare for the birth and the child. AB 153 instead starts this supplement three months prior to the due date of the child.
- Require juvenile judges and attorneys are informed that youth have received information and education on reproductive and sexual health: While state law before 2021 required social workers to document in a youth’s case plan that middle and high school age youth have received sexual health education and information about available resources, there was no legal requirement to provide that information to the court, making it difficult for judges, bench officers and attorneys to ensure youth in care receive the information and care envisioned by state law. AB 153 requires county social workers to include in reports to juvenile courts whether youth or nonminor dependents in the foster system have received comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.
- First-in-the-Nation Reproductive Sexual Health Reporting Requirements (AB 172) – strengthens reproductive health equity by creating an important data provision that requires the state to tabulate and publish information on key reproductive and maternal health outcomes for youth in foster care to better ensure foster youth are receiving the health care they need, want and have a right to. The data will help identify possible disparities in access to care between youth in foster care and youth in the general population, and will be disaggregated by key indicators including race/ethnicity to help identify possible disparities in outcomes within foster care to better target support.
NCYL partnered with the Alliance for Children’s Rights, Black Women for Wellness, California Association of Student Councils, Children’s Law Center of California, John Burton Advocates for Youth. We proudly worked with the following legislators:
Author: Assembly Member Blanca Rubio
Co-authors: Assembly Member Mike Gipson, Assembly Member Mark Stone, Assembly Member Phil Ting, and Senator Scott Wiener