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                                                       PRINTER'S NO. 549



No. 511 Session of 2005



                                     AN ACT

     1  Providing for certain rights of foster children.

     2     The General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
     3  hereby enacts as follows:
     4  Section 1.  Short title.
     5     This act shall be known and may be cited as the Foster
     6  Children Rights Act.
     7  Section 2.  Definitions.
     8     The following words and phrases when used in this act shall
     9  have the meanings given to them in this section unless the
    10  context clearly indicates otherwise:
    11     "County agency."  A county children and youth social service
    12  agency established pursuant to section 405 of the act of June
    13  24, 1937 (P.L.2017, No.396), known as the County Institution
    14  District Law, or its successor, and supervised by the Department
    15  of Welfare under Article IX of the act of June 13, 1967 (P.L.31,
    16  No.21), known as the Public Welfare Code.

     1     "Foster parent."  An individual responsible for providing
     2  foster family care to a child placed by a foster family care
     3  agency.
     4     "Members of children and youth services team."  The term
     5  includes caseworkers, court-appointed special advocates and
     6  guardians ad litem.
     7     "Private agency."  A children and youth social service agency
     8  subject to the requirements of 55 Pa. Code Ch. 3680 (relating to
     9  administration and operation of a children and youth social
    10  service agency).
    11  Section 3.  Rights of foster children.
    12     A foster child has the following rights:
    13         (1)  To be treated with fairness, dignity and respect and
    14     to not be discriminated against because of race, color,
    15     religion, disability, sexual orientation, national origin,
    16     age or gender.
    17         (2)  To be free from harassment, corporal punishment,
    18     unreasonable restraint and physical, sexual, emotional and
    19     other abuse.
    20         (3)  To live in a safe, healthy and comfortable home.
    21         (4)  To be properly nourished and clothed with clothing
    22     that is clean, seasonal and age and gender appropriate.
    23         (5)  To receive medical, dental, vision, mental health,
    24     behavioral health and drug and alcohol abuse and addiction
    25     services that respond to the child's needs.
    26         (6)  To be free from unreasonable searches of personal
    27     belongings and mail, including electronic mail, and to be
    28     free to make and receive confidential telephone calls as
    29     reasonable under the circumstances unless otherwise provided
    30     by law.
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     1         (7)  Provided that the child is given contact information
     2     and a means of communication, to be permitted to visit with
     3     and contact family members consistent with the family service
     4     plan, unless otherwise prohibited by court order and to
     5     contact the child's attorney and members of the child's
     6     children and youth services team.
     7         (8)  To be permitted to participate in religious
     8     observances and activities and attend religious services of
     9     the child's preference or the religion of the child's family
    10     of origin or culture as may be reasonably accommodated, or to
    11     refrain from such religious practices.
    12         (9)  To maintain and reflect the child's culture as may
    13     be reasonably accommodated.
    14         (10)  To receive an appropriate education consistent with
    15     the laws of this Commonwealth, including the right to have
    16     the opportunity to participate in extracurricular, cultural
    17     and personal enrichment activities that are reasonably
    18     available and accommodated and consistent with the child's
    19     age and developmental level.
    20         (11)  To work and develop job skills at an age-
    21     appropriate level, consistent with the laws of this
    22     Commonwealth and as may be reasonably accommodated and to
    23     receive appropriate life skills training to prepare for
    24     independent living.
    25         (12)  To attend court hearings relating to the child's
    26     case and to have the opportunity to be heard.
    27         (13)  To be permitted to contribute to and receive
    28     information about the family service plan, including changes
    29     to the plan, and to review the case plan itself if the child
    30     is at least 14 years of age.
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     1         (14)  To have confidentiality maintained consistent with
     2     the laws of this Commonwealth.
     3         (15)  To have any kinship resource or previous foster
     4     parent of the child be considered as the preferred placement
     5     resource if such placement is consistent with the best
     6     interest of the child and the needs of other children in the
     7     kinship residence or foster parent's home.
     8         (16)  If the child has a child of his own to be permitted
     9     to exercise parental and decision-making authority over his
    10     own child and to reside with his own child if appropriate and
    11     as may be reasonably accommodated unless prohibited by order
    12     of court.
    13         (17)  To have the opportunity to contact the Department
    14     of Public Welfare confidentially and to make complaints
    15     regarding alleged violations of the child's rights and to be
    16     free from harassment and retaliation regarding such actions.
    17  Section 4.  Copy of rights to be provided.
    18     A county agency or private agency shall provide a copy of the
    19  rights enumerated in this act to each foster child and foster
    20  parent to whom they provide services.
    21  Section 5.  Effective date.
    22     This act shall take effect in 60 days.

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