Children and youth in out-of-home care have legal rights that can support their well-being. These rights often involve coordination by key stakeholders. As such, it is essential for child welfare professionals to understand the legal issues affecting the lives of those in out-of-home care. Below, find resources and information about legal issues related to children and youth in out-of-home care, including information about health care and education.
Court Hearings for the Permanent Placement of Children
Enhanced Resource Guidelines: Child Welfare Caseworkers’ Companion Guide (PDF - 15,738 KB)
Gatowski, Gueller, & Hickman (2020)
National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges & Resource Center on Domestic Violence: Child Protection and Custody
Details relevant Federal legislation and emerging evidence supporting key strategies for improving child permanency outcomes.
FJI Attributes of High-Quality Legal Representation
Family Justice Initiative
Outlines attributes required in both court systems and individual attorneys to ensure fair and equitable representation of children, youth, and families in the child welfare system. These attributes include caseload guidelines, multidisciplinary practice models, and cultural humility.
Foster Care Bill of Rights
National Conference of State Legislatures (2019)
Summarizes the purpose of the Foster Children Bill of Rights and the Foster Parent Bill of Rights and presents those bills of rights in each State.
Pathways to Permanency: Expanding on Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA) Provisions and Youth Engagement to Improve Permanency
Child Welfare Capacity Building Collaborative, Capacity Building Center for States (2017)
Provides tips to support child welfare agencies in upholding essential elements of the 2014 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act and shares suggestions for engaging youth in associated permanency efforts.
The Safe Babies Court Team™ Approach
ZERO TO THREE
Provides resources about a program designed to connect young children to supports after a family is screened into the child welfare system.
Study of Parent Legal Representation in New York City
Casey Family Programs (2019)
Explains the need for legal counsel in dependency court as evidence proves justice is better served when parents and youth have legal representation.
What Do We Know About Virtual Court Hearings?
Casey Family Programs (2020)
Summarizes what is known about virtual court hearings, which have become increasingly prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic and associated social distancing measures. This resource includes information about why it is important for hearings to continue virtually, as well as key considerations for adapting to an online format.
Youth Voices for Permanency: Courtroom Guide on How Courts and Judges Can Make a Difference (PDF - 456 KB)
Voice for Adoption (2016)
Presents the perspectives of youth currently or formerly in foster care and offers important insights for court professionals. The guide reflects on input from youth and judicial leaders, describes the importance of permanency in adolescent lives, and provides ideas for how judges can help more children and youth achieve permanency.
Decision-Making for Medically Complex Children in Foster Care: Exploring the Ethical Challenges
Seltzer & Boss (2018)
Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, 142
Presents a case study illustrating the complex legal rights associated with decision-making for medically complex children and youth in foster care.
Health-Care Coverage for Children and Youth in Foster Care—and After
Health Care Issues for Children and Adolescents in Foster Care and Kinship Care
Szilagyi; Rosen; Rubin; Zlotnik; Council on Foster Care, Adoption, and Kinship Care; Committee on Adolescence; & Council on Early Childhood (2015)
Explores health issues faced by children and adolescents involved with child welfare, especially those who are removed from their families and placed in out-of-home care. These children often present with complex and serious physical, mental health, developmental, and psychological problems rooted in childhood adversity and trauma.
Foster Care, Special Education, and Learning and Thinking Differences: What You Need to Know
Details the legal rights that foster parents have to participate in education planning on behalf of their foster children, as well as information about identifying learning concerns and supporting diverse learners
Foster Youth Education Rights
California Department of Education, California Foster Youth Education Task Force, and Alliance for Children's Rights (2016)
Outlines the educational rights of students in California's foster care system, including the right to remain in their school of origin, the right to immediate enrollment, the right to partial credits, graduation rights, college rights, and more.
Improving Education for Youth in Foster Care
Child Law Practice Today, 36(6)
Provides information about educational issues for lawyers or judges who are responsible for advocating or making decisions for youth in the foster care or juvenile justice systems. The article stresses that children in these environments often experience instability and that school can be a steadying force in their lives.
Legal Center for Foster Care & Education
Serves as a central clearinghouse for information on foster care and education. The organization also provides access to training and technical assistance to professionals across the country.
Students in Foster Care
U.S. Department of Education (2016)
Provides information and materials for students in out-of-home care, including guidance and regulatory information; resources on educational stability; guides on special education, postsecondary education, and training; and links to related U.S. Department of Education programs.