FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Juana Aguilera
DCFS Office of Public Affairs
Collaboration of the Los Angeles County Commission for Children & Families,
Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, the
California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson and Many Stakeholders Across California
Foster Youth Host Virtual Event to Help Educate About Rights
Los Angeles County, CA — Today, Los Angeles County launched the LAYouthRights.com website, a new resource to help foster youth understand their rights. The teen-friendly site highlights the more than 40 laws that make up the Foster Youth Bill of Rights and features a downloadable Foster Youth Bill of Rights Handbook, Coloring Book, and other printed materials that will also be distributed to youth and caregivers in the coming weeks. Current and former foster youth are hosting a virtual Zoom event today at 5:00 PM to help educate foster youth throughout the State about their rights.
The new foster youth materials were created by a collaboration of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Los Angeles County Commission for Children & Families, Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS), California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson, current and former foster youth, and many other stakeholders across California.
“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 Dr. Tamara N. Hunter, Executive Director, Los Angeles County Commission for Children & Families. “There’s been increased focus on racial justice and equity in recent months, and this must extend to youth in foster care, as they are among our most vulnerable and marginalized populations. We must empower them by educating them about their rights, and then collectively-as a community- ensure that these rights are upheld. These materials bring us so much closer to this goal.”
“Foster youth were essential partners in the creation of these documents, which will educate foster youth and those who care about them. Their lived experience helped to bring these rights to life,” said Dr. Wendy Smith, former Chair of the L.A. County Commission for Children and Families.
Late last year, Governor Gavin Newsom signed into law AB 175, expanding the existing Foster Youth Bill of Rights legislation. The expanded law now requires children in foster care and their representatives to be informed of their rights in an age-appropriate manner. In addition, there are expanded rights to protect and better serve LGBTQ+ youth; the right for foster youth to review their own case plan starting at the age of 10; the right to have reasonable access to a computer and the internet, among other new rights.
“Being in foster care can be overwhelming for youth, especially if they are not sure where to turn to for help. With the new materials, our hope is to educate youth about their rights and empower youth to call our office if they feel those rights have been violated. The Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson is dedicated to supporting youth with their complaints, inquires, and questions,” said Rochelle Trochtenberg, the California Foster Care Ombudsperson. The Foster Care Ombudsperson’s Office is empowered to receive and investigate complaints made by or on behalf of youth in foster care. Foster youth in need of support, can call 877-846-1602.
“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,” said Los Angeles County 4th District Supervisor Janice Hahn.
“The Foster Youth Bill of Rights guarantees the basic rights of dignity and privacy for LGBTQ+ youth,” said Los Angeles County 3rd District Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. “We know that 1 in 5 LA County foster youth identify as queer, and the rights outlined in this document ensure that these vulnerable young people are entitled to be called by their preferred name and pronoun, and that they have an inviolable right to privacy concerning their sexual orientation and their gender identity & expression. That’s why it’s truly historic that LA County and the state of California have adopted this guiding document.”
“I was proud to author the Foster Youth Bill of Rights legislation because we need our foster youth in California to know that we have their backs. We’re here for them and by extending these rights and creating these new materials, we want them to know that their safety and well-being is our community’s top priority,” said Assemblymember Mike Gipson (D-Carson), who sponsored AB 175.
“At any given time, there are more than 38,000 youth in foster care in Los Angeles County,” said Bobby D. Cagle, director for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services. “Youth in care should feel safe and secure where they live, and they also need to know they have a place to turn to if they need help or resources. LAYouthRights.com is a critical resource where youth may have their questions answered.”
“The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is excited about the release of the new website and materials related to the updated Foster Youth Bill of Rights, which will help empower and guide California youth in foster care, providing key information and resources in a centralized location,” said CDSS Director Kim Johnson. “We will continue to work closely with our county partners and additional stakeholders to ensure that the rights of California foster youth are understood, supported, and protected. It is my hope that this important work will help California youth in foster care make informed decisions about their futures.”
The Foster Youth Bill of Rights materials were made possible through collaboration with and support from many stakeholders, including the Barry & Wendy Meyer Foundation.
About Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families
The Commission for Children and Families is comprised of a group of diverse individuals with a broad range of experience and expertise, appointed by the Board of Supervisors to advise them on matters affecting at-risk and systems-involved children, youth, and families. The Commission works collaboratively with public, private, and community-based stakeholders to improve life outcomes for the most vulnerable.
About Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS)
As the largest child protective services agency in the nation, the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services is responsible for ensuring the safety of more than 2 million children across 88 diverse cities in Los Angeles County.
About California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson
The California Office of the Foster Care Ombudsperson (OFCO) is an autonomous entity that is empowered to receive and investigate complaints made by or on behalf of youth in foster care. Additionally, the OFCO provides youth and caregivers information about foster youth rights. Foster youth in need of support, can call us at 877-846-1602 or visit our website at fosteryouthhelp.ca.gov.