NCYL Supports California Investments in Strengthening Health Equity for Foster Youth
The National Center for Youth Law continuously works with California legislators to establish and strengthen reproductive health equity for youth in the state’s foster care. These efforts have resulted in several progressive reforms, including a key budget allocation in 2021 that establishes financial support for pregnant youth in foster care.
NCYL applauds the California legislature’s moves to promote healthy futures for foster youth, as outlined in the state’s 2021-22 budget. Included in that budget are three significant investments that improve upon existing laws to strengthen reproductive health equity for youth in foster care. They include:
- Establishment of the Expectant Parent Payment (AB 153). This move supports expecting foster youth so they may prepare for the birth of their child by providing a monthly $900 supplement three months before the expected birth. Previously, supplemental payments were only available after birth. The time just prior to birth is a critical opportunity to prevent negative health outcomes and support nutrition, parenting and birthing skills.
- A requirement that juvenile judges and attorneys be informed that youth have received information and education on reproductive and sexual health. This is important because 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.
- A first-in-the-nation reproductive sexual health reporting requirements (AB 172). This requirement strengthens reproductive health equity by creating an important data provision to better ensure foster youth are receiving the health care they need, want and are entitled to access.
Ensuring health equity
NCYL’s Reproductive Health Equity Project (RHEP) for Foster Youth has been a staunch supporter of improvement in California’s foster programs. Prior to the 2021 provisions, the RHEP team helped advocate for California laws that now require:
- Child welfare case workers ensure foster youth receive the same comprehensive sexual health as all other youth;
- Case workers inform foster youth of the sexual health and education programs and services available to them and remove barriers to access;
- County social workers, certain foster caregivers, and juvenile judges receive education on how to support the healthy development of youth in care;
- Caregivers support youth decision-making and access to education and care; and
The monthly rate paid for parenting minors and nonminor dependents include an infant supplement once a child is born.
NCYL is proud to have helped bring about these critical initiatives. The Alliance for Children’s Rights, Black Women for Wellness, California Association of Student Councils, Children’s Law Center of California, and John Burton Advocates for Youth partnered with NCYL in these efforts.