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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.461

Introduced by   Representatives Andrews of Rutland City, Courcelle of Rutland City, Deen of Westminster, Donahue of Northfield, Frank of Underhill, French of Randolph, Godin of Milton, Haas of Rochester, Leriche of Hardwick, Lorber of Burlington, McCormack of Rutland City, Miller of Shaftsbury, Trombley of Grand Isle and Weston of Burlington

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Children; foster care; children’s bill of rights

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to establish a bill of rights for children in foster care.

AN ACT RELATING TO A BILL OF RIGHTS FOR FOSTER CARE CHILDREN

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  33 V.S.A. § 3501a is added to read:

§ 3501a.  RIGHTS OF CHILDREN IN FOSTER CARE

(a)  The general assembly hereby adopts the Bill of Rights for children in foster care and finds that children in foster care have a right:

(1)  To live in a safe, healthy, and comfortable home where he or she is treated with respect.

(2)  To be free from physical, sexual, emotional, or other abuse, or corporal punishment.

(3)  To receive adequate and healthy food, adequate clothing, and, for youth in group homes, an allowance.

(4)  To receive medical, dental, vision, and mental health services.

(5)  To be free of the administration of medication or chemical substances, unless authorized by a physician.

(6)  To contact family members, unless prohibited by court order, and social workers, attorneys, foster youth advocates and supporters, guardians ad litem, and probation officers.

(7)  To visit and contact brothers and sisters, unless prohibited by court order.

(8)  To contact the department for children and families or an attorney regarding violations of rights, to speak to representatives of these offices confidentially, and to be free from threats or punishment for making complaints.

(9)  To make and receive confidential telephone calls and send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.

(10)  To attend religious services and activities of his or her choice.

(11)  To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child's age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan.

(12)  To not be locked in any room, building, or facility premises, unless placed in a community treatment facility.

(13)  To attend school and participate in extracurricular, cultural, and personal enrichment activities, consistent with the child's age and developmental level.

(14)  To work and develop job skills at an age-appropriate level, consistent with state law.

(15)  To have social contacts with people outside the foster care system, such as teachers, church members, mentors, and friends.

(16)  To attend Independent Living Program classes and activities if he or she meets age requirements.

(17)  To attend court hearings and speak to the judge.

(18)  To have storage space for private use.

(19)  To be involved in the development of his or her own case plan and plan for permanent placement.

(20)  To review his or her own case plan and plan for permanent placement if he or she is 12 years of age or older and in a permanent placement, and to receive information about his or her out-of-home placement and case plan, including being told of changes to the plan.

(21)  To be free from unreasonable searches of personal belongings.

(22)  To confidentiality of all juvenile court records consistent with existing law.

(23)  To have fair and equal access to all available services, placement, care, treatment, and benefits, and to not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of actual or perceived race, ethnic group identification, ancestry, national origin, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, mental or physical disability, or HIV status.

(24)  At 16 years of age or older, to have access to existing information regarding the educational options available, including, but not limited to, the coursework necessary for vocational and postsecondary educational programs, and information regarding financial aid for postsecondary education.

(b)  Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to require a foster care provider to take any action that would impair the health and safety of children in out-of-home placement.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us