Calif. Governor Signs Bill Mandating Data Collection on Parenting Foster Youth

Yesterday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 528, a bill that mandates the collection of data about pregnant and parenting foster youths in state.

The bill will lead to the first true accounting of how many pregnant and parenting youth are in the foster care system in California, according to the John Burton Foundation.

“SB 528 will help end the intergenerational cycle of child abuse that is currently in place,” said John Burton, Chair of the John Burton Foundation, which was a co-sponsor of the measure. “It will give young parents in foster care, and their children, the opportunity to live with safety and economic security. We thank the Governor for his support of this important legislation.”

The bill has two key parts:

  • The California Department of Social Services would be required to collect data on the number of parenting youth in foster care, their ethnicity, placement type, county of origin and length of stay in the foster care system
  • Information would be collected about whether or not the child of the dependent parent has been placed in foster care.

Burton believes this bill will improve the lives of young parents by keeping track of how many children re-enter the system and finding ways to send the cycle of abuse and neglect.

Early versions of the bill, which was authored by State Sen. Leland Yee (D), authorized more support services to parenting foster youth. Subsidized child care for the teen parents was included, along with state-mandated sexual development education to all youth in foster care starting at age 12. The bill also required specialized conferences for pregnant youth in foster care to ensure they have access to services, including prenatal care.

President Barack Obama promoted a small federally-funded project around the same services in his 2014 proposal to Congress.

Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation, called the removal of those provisions “part of the policy making process. While we’re disappointed, we’re really excited about what is inside the bill.”

Ryann Blackshere is a staff reporter with the Chronicle of Social Change.

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6 Comments

  1. This bill also makes it clear in the Welfare and Institutions Code and in California’s Foster Youth Bill of Rights that foster youth have a right to receive comprehensive legally and medically accurate reproductive health and family planning information and services.

    As a co-sponsor of the bill I would also like to respond to the concerns/questions about whose counting and whether that will be bad for teens and their babies. The new law does not call for DCFS to go out and find teens and their babies and count them – it requires DCFS to keep track of the current foster youth who are parents – these are youth with open court and DCFS cases, social workers etc. who are also parents. Currently we have no way in CA to track or count these youth. Accordingly, it is difficult to plan for/create/get funding for needed programs, resources services, housing etc. The counting will be automated as part of CWS/CMS.

  2. This is very disturbing. Keeping tabs on vulnerable young parents allows a flawed system first dibs at newborn children. There is a strong financial incentive involved with infant/toddler adoptions. It is much easier to justify taking a child away from a parent already in the system and the parents have little recourse and have no representation to fight for their children. I want to know why Governor Brown didn’t instead sign for transparency by DCFS regarding children who die while under the DCFS care? There arer close to 600 children that died under DCFS care just in Los Angeles County in the last 2 years. If the report leaked to the media was hidden the public would never have known children are dying at alarming rates while under DCFS care. I think this issue is much greater and reform to stop these deaths is more an issue than taking away the privacy of young adults.

  3. Ms. Ramaglia’s proposal above could provide answers as to what are we (direct practice, foster parents, private and public entities) are doing wrong and what are we doing right. Kids leaving care are at critical crossroads and at this time we have nearly NOTHING to support them.

    • Well, at age 18, they are adults and not children anymore, except here. You are teaching a generation to rely on gov’t subsidies and at the interest of the state. My bet is the taxes re-imbursed to 400-500 per year infants taken from former foster children is worth a lot more than helping ADULTS out.

      It would also help if the state did not double bill these foster children, collect all their ss funds as a child and then leave them penniless and homeless at 18.

  4. This sounds great but my question would be who is going to do the counting. If child services is going to police themselves then you will never get an accurate count because they will make the numbers do what is needed to cover themselves. I have seen this stuff go down before so I would want a count by someone who has nothing to gain by forging the numbers.

    • I would also like to see numbers for – 1) what happens to children after they leave the system, at what age did they leave they system – age out, runaway, etc. 2) Number of children killed by foster parents. 3) Number of thriving, aged out foster children 4) How many foster parents are trauma equipped and 5) a unit of measuring life skill abilities of foster children before leaving the system.

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