BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 791
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          Date of Hearing:   April 5, 2011

                           ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON JUDICIARY
                                  Mike Feuer, Chair
                    AB 791 (Ammiano) - As Amended:  March 30, 2011
           
          SUBJECT  :  Dependent children: BIRTH CERTIFICATES

           KEY ISSUE  :  IN ORDER TO HELP ENSURE THAT FOSTER CHILDREN HAVE 
          NECESSARY IDENTITY DOCUMENTS, SHOULD THE JUVENILE COURT BE 
          REQUIRED to order that foster YOUTH AND THEIR CAREGIVERS be 
          given a copy of the birth CERTIFICATE WHENEVER REUNIFICATION 
          SERVICES WITH THE PARENTS CEASE?

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  As currently in print this bill is keyed 
          non-fiscal.

                                      SYNOPSIS
                                                              
          Each year, approximately 4,000-5,000 youth emancipate out of the 
          foster care system without a loving family to help guide and 
          support them.  Often, they also emancipate without proper 
          records, including an accurate birth certificate.  A birth 
          certificate is also necessary before emancipation, required to 
          sign up for school or certain extracurricular activities.  This 
          bill, sponsored by the California Foster Care Ombudsman Office, 
          seeks to ensure that both foster youth and their caregivers have 
          a copy of their birth certificate.  Existing law already 
          requires that caregivers and older youth receive copies of the 
          birth certificate.  This bill seeks to ensure this actually 
          happens by requiring the court to order that it does when either 
          reunification services for the parents are not ordered or, if 
          ordered, terminate.

           SUMMARY  :  Specifies that the court shall order caregivers and 
          foster children to receive copies of the foster children's birth 
          certificate, as specified.  Specifically,  this bill  requires 
          that whenever a dependency court determines that it will not 
          order reunification services or terminates such services, it 
          shall order that (1) the child's caregiver receive the child's 
          birth certificate in compliance with Welfare and Institutions 
          Code Sections 16010.4 and 16010.5, and (2) when appropriate, the 
          child, if the child is 16 years or older, receive his or her 
          birth certificate.









                                                                  AB 791
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           EXISTING LAW  : 

          1)Provides that a child may become a dependent of the juvenile 
            court and removed from his or her parents or guardian on the 
            basis of abuse or neglect.  (Welfare and Institutions Code 
            Section 300.  Unless otherwise stated, all further statutory 
            references are to that code.)  

          2)Declares the intent of the Legislature that caregivers have 
            certain basic information in order to provide for the needs of 
            children placed in their care, including a copy of the child's 
            birth certificate, passport, or other identifying 
            documentation of age as may be required for enrollment in 
            school and extracurricular activities.  (Sections 16010.4(e).)

          3)As soon as possible after placing a child into foster care, 
            and no later than 30 days after placing the child, requires 
            the placing agency to provide to the child's caregiver any 
            available documentation or proof of the child's age that may 
            be required for enrollment in school or activities that 
            require proof of age.  Within 30 days of receiving a copy of a 
            child's birth certificate or passport, requires the placing 
            agency to provide a copy of that document to the child's 
            caregiver.  (Section 16010.5.)

          4)Requires the county welfare department, at any hearing to 
            terminate jurisdiction over a dependent child who has reached 
            the age of majority, to submit a report to the court verifying 
            that certain information, documents and services have been 
            provided to the child, including documents such as a social 
            security card, birth certificate and proof of citizenship and 
            assistance in obtaining health insurance, housing, employment 
            and financial aid for higher education.  (Section 11403.)

           COMMENTS  :  Each year, approximately 4,000-5,000 youth emancipate 
          out of the foster care system without a loving family to help 
          guide and support them.  Often, they also emancipate without 
          proper records, including an accurate birth certificate.  A 
          birth certificate is also necessary before emancipation, 
          required to sign up for school or certain extracurricular 
          activities.  This bill, sponsored by the California Foster Care 
          Ombudsman Office, seeks to ensure that both foster youth and 
          their caregivers have a copy of the birth certificate.  Existing 
          law already requires that caregivers and older youth receive 
          copies of the birth certificate.  This bill seeks to ensure this 








                                                                  AB 791
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          actually happens by requiring the court to order that it does 
          when either reunification services for the parents are not 
          ordered or, if ordered, terminate.

          According to the author:

               Currently, there are many foster youth who age out of 
               the child welfare system and are not provided with 
               their correct and certified birth certificate.  
               Additionally, while in the child welfare system, 
               caregivers of foster youth are not being provided 
               birth certificates making it difficult to sign foster 
               youth up for educational and extracurricular 
               activities.

               Despite law mandating otherwise, many foster youth and 
               their caregivers are not receiving a copy of the youth's 
               certified birth certificate, making it especially difficult 
               if the youth is emancipating out of the child welfare 
               system.  . . . 

               Although the law says that caregivers and youth must be 
               provided a copy of their birth certificate, further 
               clarification is needed as to when and who is responsible 
               for obtaining the birth certificate.  AB 791 would clarify 
               existing law by initiating the process of obtaining and 
               providing a foster youth's birth certificate when the court 
               denies the order for reunification services or orders the 
               termination of reunification services for a foster youth.

           Continuation of court jurisdiction if documents and services are 
          not verified  .  Courts currently have authority to retain 
          jurisdiction over an individual who reached the age of majority 
          while in foster care but is under the age of 21.  Existing law 
          flags in particular that courts may retain jurisdiction over a 
          non-minor if the county welfare department has not verified its 
          provision of specific documents, including the birth 
          certificate, and services to the youth prior to the hearing to 
          terminate court jurisdiction.  However, it is far better to get 
          the vital records to foster youth before they emancipate, rather 
          than retaining jurisdiction over the youth simply to provide his 
          or her birth certificate.

           This bill seeks to ensure that children and their caregivers 
          have copies of a critical vital record  .  Existing law requires 








                                                                  AB 791
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          that foster youth receive a copy of their birth certificate 
          before they emancipate.  Their caregivers are required to 
          receive proof of age within 30 days of placement and a copy of 
          the birth certificate within 30 days of when the child welfare 
          agency receives it.  Proof of age is critical for enrollment in 
          school and participation in various extracurricular activities, 
          such as sports activities.  

          In addition to the other requirements, this bill requires the 
          court to order that the child's caregiver be given a copy of the 
          birth certificate when reunification services for the parents 
          either terminate or are not ordered in the first place.  At this 
          point, it is highly unlikely that the child will reunite with 
          his or her parents and it is, therefore, an appropriate time to 
          ensure that the caregiver has a copy of this vital record.  In 
          addition, the bill requires the court to order that if the 
          foster youth is 16 or older, he or she be provided with a copy 
          of the birth certificate, when appropriate.  These requirements 
          will help make it more likely that foster youth can be signed up 
          for school and other activities and will have their birth 
          certificates when they emancipate.
           
           Previous Legislation  :  The initial requirements regarding 
          essential documents, services and information for youth exiting 
          foster care were created by AB 686 (Aroner), Chap. 911, Stats. 
          2000.  The most recent additions to the requirements were 
          created by AB 2310 (Maze), Chap. 131, Stats. 2008.  

           REGISTERED SUPPORT / OPPOSITION  :   

           Support 
           
          None on file

           Opposition 
           
          None on file
           

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Leora Gershenzon / JUD. / (916) 
          319-2334  












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