YOUTH IN FOSTER CARE
These are the rights for all children in foster care between the ages of 14 and 17 years old who are placed with a caregiver or in a group home. This brochure also includes what you can expect from the Department of Children and Families and the case management agency while you are in foster care.
RIGHTS AND EXPECTATIONSDownload the Foster Rights & Expectations brochure
When Should I Get this Brochure?
When you come into foster care, you can expect that your case manager will provide you with a copy of this Youth in Foster Care Rights and Expectations brochure and explain it to you. You can ask questions so that you can better understand what is happening. After any placement change or every six months, whichever comes first, you will be reminded about and explained these rights, provided with the document, and able to share any concerns or questions.
Where Do these Rights Come From?
These rights come from many different sources. Some of the rights come from the United States Constitution, others from the Florida Constitution. Florida statutes (laws) and federal statutes also outline and direct the expectations and services that should be provided. You have the right to enjoy the same rights established in the Constitutions of the United States and Florida as every other person in the state and country. You also have the right to be given the opportunity to participate in developing your case plan, and that the case plan includes your rights to education, health, visitation, court participation, and safety.
Where Do the Expectations Come From?
The expectations included in this brochure describe what you can expect from the Department of Children and Families and the case management agency while you are in foster care.
THE DEPARTMENT’S COMMITMENT TO YOU
The Department of Children and Families is committed to making sure that everyone responsible for providing care and services to children in foster care will meet the expectations listed here.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT…
To be informed with verbal and written instructions about your rights on how to identify and report abuse, abandonment, or neglect.
YOU CAN EXPECT…
What the Children’s Ombudsman Can Do
- Listen and be a voice for children and youth
- Take complaints about placement, care, or services from youth without youth fearing retribution for the complaints
- Serve as a resource to identify and explain relevant policies or procedures
What the Children’s Ombudsman Cannot Do
- Respond to emergencies or investigate allegations of abuse or neglect
- Investigate, challenge, or overturn court-ordered decisions or provide legal advice
- Investigate complaints about a Guardian ad Litem
You have the right to be able to contact your case manager or the Florida Children’s Ombudsman regarding violations of rights, to speak to the ombudsman confidentially, and to be free from threats or punishment for making complaints.
If you’re a youth or young adult in Florida’s child welfare system, we know that you’ve likely been through a lot. Because of this, we want to make sure that you’re in a place –physically, emotionally, and spiritually–where you can recover, grow, and feel the love that you deserve. If for any reason you aren’t in that place, please contact your case manager or the Children’s Ombudsman.
The Children’s Ombudsman will protect the confidentiality of your identity to the extent allowed under the law. Additionally, the Children’s Ombudsman will let you know that your identity may be revealed by the Ombudsman if deemed necessary to make sure you’re safe.
Office of Continuing Care
The Office of Continuing Care (OCC), part of Hope Florida - A Pathway to Prosperity, offers free one-on-one help for young people who are about to or have recently transitioned out of foster care, aiming to make the leap into adulthood a positive experience.
The OCC provides the following services:
- Connects you to existing resources in your area to help you thrive as an independent young adult
- Guides you in accessing special services available to former foster youth
- Gives you a support system to help you with the next steps on your path to adulthood