Foster Youth and Non-Minor Dependents in California age 10 and older are guaranteed the right to:
• Have their rights explained in a manner they understand
• Sexual and Reproductive Health Care Services
• Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard
Explaining Rights to Young People: When
• at age 10 and older
• upon entering Foster Care
• at the time of each placement change
• every six months after most recent of these
Repetition is okay, helps with retention—these transitions are stressful times and new information is difficult to absorb when we are stressed.
Best Practice: follow up at less stressful times to check for understanding and questions.
Explaining Rights to Young People: How
• Age appropriately
• Developmentally appropriately—this differs from age as we all develop at different speeds. Keep in mind physical and cognitive development do not always align. Young person may appear physically mature, but not be capable of understanding complex, future-oriented topics. Trauma can also impact development.
• Medical facts, without judgement. It is explicit in the law that all information be medically factual.
Best practice: your communication would also be trauma informed, focus on strengths and resilience and resources the youth already possess, be sensitive to the individual’s culture and sexual orientation and other key traits.Using a positive youth development focus is ideal—sexuality is a normal and healthy and wonderful part of life and youth have the capacity to make good decisions about what they want in their life and what they want their future to look like.
LGBTQ and Gender Non-Conforming Youth
LGBTQ = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning.
Gender non-conforming means that the youth does not identify as male or female or switches fluidly between the two.
Some folks who use this term also identify as transgender, some do not. This gender identity is becoming more common with youth.
• Same rights as all other foster youth and NMDs.
• Right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity regardless of gender or sex listed in their record
• Access to gender-affirming medical and behavioral health services
• Adequately trained caregivers and child welfare personnel
• Fair and equal access and freedom from harassment and discrimination
• Confidentiality of sexual orientation and/or gender identity unless given permission by youth or compelled by law or court order
Key Points from Pub 809
Items 2 & 3
Youth may personally consent to or decline care for:
• Prevention or treatment of pregnancy (except sterilization), at any age
• An abortion, at any age
• Diagnosis and treatment of sexual assault, at any age
• Prevention, diagnosis and treatment of STIs, at age 12 and older
In these cases, youth do not need consent from anyone.
Right to information about:
• Reproductive and sexual health care and services
• The prevention of unintended pregnancy, including abstinence and contraception—CANNOT be abstinence only in CA
• Abortion care
• Pregnancy and pre-natal services
• The prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of STI’s
Items 5, 6, & 7
• Right to a private examination with a doctor of their choosing inside their approved insurance plan
• Youth can ask their doctor to explain privacy and confidentiality
• Written permission required to share information
• Exceptions exist in instances of mandated reporting, but this does not allow providers to disclose to parents or guardians without permission from the youth.
• Transportation (caregiver to arrange or provide)
• Contraception (obtain, possess, and use)
• Private and lockable storage space
• Choice of authorized health care provider
• Fair and equal access to services
• Freedom from discrimination
• Independently contact state agencies (CCL, Ombuds person, representatives) without repercussion
Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard
“Careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety, and best interests while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.”
• Youth engage in age and developmentally appropriate social activities
• Respect and protect youth’s rights
How does this parenting standard relate to sexuality?
Some possible ways:
• Dating, dances, social media
• Masturbation and privacy
• Some folks say sexting can be an age and developmentally appropriate social activity, but there are legal issues
• Respecting and upholding the rights we just learned
It is of the utmost importance that these rights are described and delivered to the youth in a way that they can understand and a form that they can access. CDSS has designed the brochure to be ADA compliant, and it should be readable online for folks with visual impairments.
Do not hesitate to utilize the many resources available to think through possible accommodations. It is better to be over-prepared than to find yourself unable to successfully communicate.
Keep in mind that folks with disabilities may experience different vulnerabilities and/or have specific barriers to accessing the education, information, and services that are their right. Work with them and these other resources to address those barriers, and actively seek strengths and resources the youth already possesses.