The following is CAI’s 2007–08 legislative agenda.
(1) Expanding Transitional Services for Emancipating Foster Youth. During 2006, as part of its grant from The California Wellness Foundation, CAI engaged in significant research and coalition building supporting the concept of expanded transitional services for emancipating foster youth. In addition to continued public education on the need for this expansion, CAI will also engage in policy advocacy aimed at implementing the necessary changes. The goal is to have the state provide its kids with at least the mean level of support that non-foster youth get from their families during the transitional period of 18–24. This support should include financial assistance, assured vocational/educational opportunity (including tuition, fees, books), housing, and medical coverage. See CAI-sponsored SB 348 (Migden).
(2) Increased Rates for Foster Family Homes. CAI is supporting efforts to increase rates for family foster homes, and to establish a Foster and Adoptive Parent Recruitment, Retention, and Support Program within DSS. See CAI-supported AB 324 (Beall).
(3) Foster Child Health Care. CAI is pursing legislation to require that foster children receive specified Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program health assessments and oral health services, and to require the state, to the extent federal financial participation is available, to extend Medi-Cal benefits to independent foster care adolescents, while in foster care or guardianship, until the child reaches the age of 21. See CAI-sponsored AB 273 (Jones).
(4) Foster Child Fatality Information. CAI believes that providing public access to foster child case files where a child fatality or near fatality occurs as a result of abuse or neglect will promote public discourse and examination of the circumstances that led to the fatality or near fatality, thereby promoting the development of child protection policies, procedures, practices, and strategies that will reduce or avoid future incidents of child abuse. Accordingly, CAI will sponsor legislation to require that juvenile case files relating to a dependent child or a ward of the juvenile court who dies or suffers near death injury as a result of child abuse or neglect shall be released to the public, subject to certain limitations set forth in the bill. See CAI-sponsored SB 39 (Migden). See also upcoming amendments to SB 39 and CAI's SB 39 fact sheet (pdf).
(5) Foster Youth Higher Education Preparation and Support. CAI will support the reintroduction of last session's AB 2489 (Leno), which would have expanded the current Foster Youth Services Program, made foster youth eligible for certain financial aid, and given foster youth priority in student housing at the California State University (CSU) and University of California (UC).
(6) Pursue prevention efforts that would reduce the need for intervention and foster care placements.
(7) Pursue efforts to stimulate of adoptions.
(8) Expediting adoptions to foster parents post .26 hearing (not taking months and years for the gratuitous "home study" or paperwork.
(9) Establish a legal status for homeless youth ("unaccompanied minors") so they may receive medical care, Medi-Cal coverage and school registration opportunity. All of the above currently require either court dependency jurisdiction or parental/guardian signature -- which these children do not have -- relegating them to prostitution, crime and marginal existence.
(10) Reduction of child attorney caseloads to 100 cases per attorney. Reduction of court caseloads to reasonable levels.