The Oregon legislature passed a bill this week that will require the state of Oregon to inform all foster youth of their rights
Senate Bill 123-A was conceived by the members of Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC), and is aimed at giving foster youth an understanding of the rights they have under state law.
“We couldn’t be happier,“ said Child Welfare Policy Manager, Pamela Butler, about the passing of the bill.
The bill notifies youth of a formalized grievance process, notifications of court hearings, a 24/7 hotline, and a transition toolkit. It will also finally establish a clear requirement for informing kids in foster care about the rights they have under state law.
“I still had many challenging experiences while in care that required me to have a better understanding of my rights than I had,” said Royce Markley, 19, one of the OFYC members who advocated for the law, in a statement on the organization’s website. “Things such as knowing I had access to a lawyer if I needed one, that I was able to keep and spend my own money, that I could have scheduled visits and be transported to see my siblings in different homes and…knowing that I had the right to make a private complaint. It’s a lot harder to get through the system, an already difficult system, if you don’t know your rights.”
The Department of Human Services will be working with Oregon Foster Youth Connection to distribute the materials to foster youth and foster parents to post in the home. The final cost of the bill is $183,332, which covers the cost of the materials needed to post the bill of rights and one full-time employee for the 24/7 hotline.
SB 123-A is planned to take effect in January 2014.
Bonita Tindle is a fellow at the Chronicle of Social Change and also in her third year and San Francisco State University.