Sunshine for Foster Youth Bill Receives Unanimous Support in Assembly Committee

April 26, 2011

AB 1110 (Lara) Ensures Disabled Foster Youth are Informed of Assistance Programs Application Status

SACRAMENTO – Assembly Bill 1110, a bill authored by Assembly Member Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), received unanimous support today in the Assembly Human Services Committee with a vote of 6-0. The bill ensures California’s disabled foster youth are given the tools necessary to provide for their care.

Foster youth with disabilities often qualify for financial and health care assistance from the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program, a federal needs based program.  Through AB1110, foster youth who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) will be informed about the status of their application and will be notified when the county has requested to be their representative payee.

“Disabled foster kids are our most vulnerable population. We must do everything we can to ensure that all involved parties are informed and work together to provide the best possible care. AB1110 will be the vehicle that will ensure youth and their counsel are well informed and have a voice in the decisions that will undoubtedly affect their future,” said Assembly Member Lara.

Current California law requires that county child welfare workers screen youth for SSI eligibility and make an application on behalf of eligible youth.  However, current law does not require a report to be made to the court in order to ensure that the SSI screening has occurred or to track the status of the SSI application.  As a result, both the court and the youth are often unaware of the status of the application, which could impact decisions regarding transition planning for the youth.

In addition, when a foster youth receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits while in foster care, the county can apply with the Social Security Administration to become the youth’s representative payee. Often, the county is appointed as the foster youth’s representative payee without the youth or youth’s counsel ever being notified.

AB 1110 would require social workers to include information about the status of a youth’s SSI applications in the six-month report to the court and would ensure the foster youth’s counsel be notified when the county requests to become a youth’s representative payee.

AB 1110 is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Judiciary Committee next week.