BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  AB 791
                                                                  Page  1


          ASSEMBLY THIRD READING
          AB 791 (Ammiano)
          As Amended March 30, 2011
          Majority vote 

           JUDICIARY           10-0                                        
           
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          |Ayes:|Feuer, Wagner, Atkins,    |     |                          |
          |     |Dickinson, Silva, Huber,  |     |                          |
          |     |Huffman, Jones, Monning,  |     |                          |
          |     |Wieckowski                |     |                          |
          |-----+--------------------------+-----+--------------------------|
          |     |                          |     |                          |
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           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.

           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.  

          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.  

          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 








                                                                  AB 791
                                                                  Page  2


            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.  

          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.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  :  None
           
          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 
          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.

          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.

          Existing law requires that foster youth receive a copy of their 








                                                                  AB 791
                                                                  Page  3


          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.

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



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