DENVER, CO – The House today passed legislation to establish a Bill of Rights for Foster Youth by a vote of 43 to 19. HB24-1017 outlines critical rights to empower and protect foster youth, including freedom from discrimination, harassment, access to basic care and freedom of gender, cultural and religious expression.
“To empower our foster youth, we need to establish in statute their freedoms and rights,” said Rep. Lindsey Daugherty, D-Arvada. “This legislation is about protecting our youth’s access to the personal care and education they deserve and the freedom to express themselves and not be discriminated against. I’m extremely proud of the role our foster youth played in developing this legislation, an important step toward giving them the tools they need to not only succeed, but thrive.”
“Through my experience as a foster parent, I understand the sacred trust that must exist between the youth in our system and their host families in order to have the best outcomes for everyone involved,” said Rep. Jennifer Parenti, D-Erie. “This bill is about ensuring foster youth have full knowledge of the protections and rights their foster families are already obligated to provide them. Through this legislation, we’re helping empower the most vulnerable kids in our communities to be treated with respect, dignity and understanding.”
HB24-1017 establishes critical statutory rights for youth living in foster care, requires county human service departments to provide written notice to foster youth about their rights, and clarifies the enforcement of these rights.
The rights of foster care youth include:
Access to education, basic essentials, and health care
The right to confidentiality and privacy
Freedom from discrimination or harassment
Freedom of thought, cultural and ethnic practice, and religion
Freedom to express gender identity
Freedom from threats, punishment, retaliation for asking questions, stating concerns, or making complaints about violations of their rights
Access to services, placements, and programs they are eligible for and notification of the benefits they are eligible for
The ability to request information on how payments were used by individuals who accepted payments for the youth
The right to receive appropriate placement and care, including being placed in a safe environment that is free of abuse, having their preferences regarding placement considered, and having providers who are aware of their history
The right to timely court proceedings and effective case management
The right to a timely notification to the Social Security Administration to initiate the transfer of benefits from providers to youth who are leaving the custody of the department
The right to access and communicate privately with caseworkers, legal representatives, advocates, probation officers, and other professionals
The ability to participate in legal proceedings and case planning
Access to certain necessities and support that will allow them to be self-sufficient in their transition to adulthood
Under this bill, the rights listed above would apply to foster youth including those who are ages 18 to 21 and participating in the Foster Youth in Transition Program.
HB24-1071 requires that foster youth five years old and older receive written notice about their rights at their initial placement in foster care and that the written notice of rights in the youth’s primary language is updated at least annually, including if there is a new placement change.
In 2021, Representative Daughterty championed legislation to establish two new programs within the Department of Human Services to prepare Colorado’s foster youth for life after their foster care placement.