Foster Children's Rights
If you or someone you know lives in foster care, the following is a list of rights that he or she is entitled to, as outlined by the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman, State of California:
- You have the right to live in a safe, comfortable home with: enough clothes, healthy food, your own place to store your things, an allowance (if you are in a group home) and a phone that you can use to make confidential calls (unless a judge says you cannot).
- You have the right to be treated with respect, go to religious services and activities of your choice, send and get unopened mail (unless a judge says someone else can open your mail), contact people who are not in the foster care system (friends, teachers, and others), make contact with social workers, attorneys, probation officers, CASAs, foster youth advocates and supporters, or anyone else involved in your case, and to be told about your placement by your social worker or probation officer.
- No one can lock you in a room or building (unless you are in a community treatment facility), abuse you physically, sexually or emotionally, punish you by physically hurting you, or look through your things unless they have a good and legal reason.
- You have the right to identify and maintain relationships with appropriate people who are important to you, as long as it's in your best interest. The intent of current law is that no child shall leave foster care without a permanent, caring relationship with an adult.
- You have the right to go to court and talk to the judge, see and get a copy of your court report and your case plan, keep your court records private (unless the law says otherwise), and be told by your social worker or probation officer and your attorney about any changes in your case plan or placement.
- You have the right to see a doctor, dentist, eye doctor or talk to a counselor if you need to and the right to refuse to take medicines, vitamins or herbs (unless a doctor or judge says you must).
- You have the right to go to school every day and to go to after-school activities right for your age and developmental level.
- You have the right to have your own emancipation bank account (unless your case plan says you cannot), learn job skills right for your age, work, unless the law says you are too young to manage the money you earn, and to go to Independent Living Program classes and activities if you are old enough.
- You have the right to visit and contact your siblings and contact your parents and other family members (unless a judge says you cannot).
- You have the right to tell the judge how you feel about your family, lawyer, and social worker, and what you want to happen in your case.
- You have the right to have your own lawyer.
- You have the right to live with a family member if it's a safe place.
- You have the right to call the Foster Care Ombudsman Office and Community Care Licensing at any time.
- You have the right to get help with school if you need it.
- You have the right to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities such as church, school and community activities, sleep-overs with friends, scouting and 4-H, without requiring criminal background checks of chaperones, friends and friends' parents/supervisors.
- The foster parent's or group home's job is to supervise you and keep you safe and healthy.
- If you are discriminated against because of your sex, race, color, religion, or for any other reason, contact the Foster Care Ombudsman's Helpline.
- If you are a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning youth, your rights and protections include not being subjected to discrimination or harassment on the basis of your actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity. Call the Ombudsman Office if you need help with this.
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