Relevant ABA Policy - August 2007
RESOLVED That the American Bar Association encourages bar associations, judges, and attorneys to lead and promote efforts to create comprehensive support and services for youth who age out of foster care ("transitioning youth") and other former foster youth until at least age 21, and urges amendment of applicable law, and court and child welfare practices, to:
- Mandate provision of comprehensive post-majority child welfare services to transitioning and former foster youth until age 21 or older, with the option for renewal of support after exit from care;
- Ensure each transitioning youth has a permanent, significant connection to an appropriate adult;
- Provide all youth with the ability and right to attend and fully participate in all hearings related to their cases;
- Mandate a court review hearing and judicial findings specifically setting forth a transition plan before the case of any transitioning youth is legally terminated;
- Ensure that participation in school and extracurricular activities are actively promoted and ensure a youth’s participation in child welfare case and court activities does not result in academic penalties;
- Ensure all foster youth are afforded the same rights to and support of educational attainment – including enrollment, educational stability, and school continuity – as homeless youth under federal law;
- Mandate the maintenance, appropriate sharing, and timely transfer of all necessary education records relating to school progress, attendance and placement by all agencies, including providing a copy of records to transitioning youth;
- Assist youth with accessing and completing postsecondary education and receiving financial assistance;
- Ensure availability of a continuum of housing options for transitioning and former foster youth;
- Assist transitioning and former foster youth in attaining financial health and stability; address barriers to obtaining proper identification, clean credit histories, needed transportation and participation in age-appropriate activities; and
- Provide educational and vocational assistance and support for all transitioning and former foster youth over age 16 and promote incentives to encourage the employment of current and former foster youth.
FURTHER RESOLVED That the American Bar Association urges Congress to amend federal law to expand services and support for transitioning youth by:
- Amending Title IV-E of the Social Security Act to allow states to be reimbursed for care and services provided to current and former foster youth after their 19th birthday;
- Providing clear and broad definitions in federal law regarding financial aid pertaining to “ward/dependent of the court” and “emancipation” to ensure that youth may receive financial aid without the requirement of a parental signature or parental income information;
- Amending Subtitle VII-B of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act to cover all children in out-of-home care.
- Clarifying the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act as it pertains to sharing health and education information among agencies, judges and advocates involved with the care and education of and legal proceedings involving foster youth; and
- Implementing requirements to preserve every foster youth's Social Security Act entitlements and other financial assets for use directly by that youth.