Monday, August 04, 2008

Assembly Bill 3051 - Hooray for SF Chronicle!

Op-Ed: Governor signs foster care bills
San Francisco Chronicle, July 22, 2008.

What we said: "Assembly Bill 3051 is the type of sensible, compassionate bill we wish we'd see coming out of Sacramento more often: It would ensure that foster children over the age of 10 can participate in the dependency court hearings that affect every aspect of their lives. So why is Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hesitating to sign it?"
- Editorial, July 17, 2008

What happened: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB3051, despite concerns from his Department of Finance that the implementation could cost $500,000. In a statement, he said he's still concerned that there may be some potential costs to the legislation that the process failed to flag - and, if so, would have to be absorbed by counties "utilizing current resources."

Even in tight fiscal times, however, a foster child deserves the right to attend court hearings that determine his or her destiny.

What's next: AB3051 is one of several significant foster care bills that the governor has signed during this session.

Others include:
- AB1331, which allows disabled foster youths to apply for SSI benefits in the months before they turn 18
- AB2483, which requires minor parents who are placing their children into foster care to consult with counsel so that they know what their parental rights are
- AB2310, which requires county welfare departments to give foster children who are aging out of the system any known family photographs and information about their Indian heritage.

All of these bills carry little or no cost to the state but help foster children inch toward a better experience in the system. Going forward in these times of budget deficits, legislators will have to keep being creative and compassionate.

What you can do: E-mail Schwarzenegger at