Bill of Rights for District of Columbia Youth in Care
Created by the CFSA Director’s Youth Advisory Board
As a youth in the foster care system, I am guaranteed the following general rights:
I. To have my social worker, guardian ad litem (GAL), or other child welfare professional discuss my rights with me and ensure I understand.
II. To be respected, heard, and cherished during my time in foster care. I also have the responsibility to listen to, hear, and respect the members of my support team.
III. To have daily access to adequate food, shelter, clothing, and hygienic resources.
IV. To know and understand why I came into foster care and why I am still in foster care.
V. To express my beliefs, customs, and values with the people where I live. I have the right to have my caregiver listen to and respect my beliefs, customs, and values.
VI. To protect my personal space and privacy in any foster care placement when doing so does not threaten the personal safety and well-being of my caregiver, others, or myself.
VII. To access medical services that support my health and well-being. I also have the right to participate in making decisions about my health, including choosing which services and providers will best meet my health needs and goals.
I am guaranteed the following rights that support information sharing and promote my personal growth:
I. To seek information and resources to support my personal growth and development and to have opportunities to demonstrate that I am responsible, self-directed, and engaged.
II. To have access to information about myself and to get timely, respectful answers to questions about choices or services from my social worker, caregiver, GAL, or other members of the support team involved in my life.
III. To have my social worker communicate with me in a way that is consistently supportive and to have my social worker return my phone calls and check in with me regularly.
IV. To have a social worker who asks me about and listens to my needs and goals and who acts proactively to address my needs and support my goals.
V. To engage in opportunities that promote my growth and overall well-being, including educational, sports, and other extra-curricular activities.
VI. To have my support team help me create a learning plan to ensure I learn basic skills.
VII. To have access to comprehensive skill development opportunities, including quality life skills training and educational and vocational programs.
VIII. To be included in real-time planning for and decision making about my life regardless of my permanency goal and to attend all meetings and court hearings about me.
IX. To request meetings that include all members of my support team, to have assistance in setting up these meetings, and to make decisions during these meetings.
X. To attend and lead my own team meetings and transition planning meetings.
XI. To have professional support for finding housing and referrals to community resources that will support my stability.
XII. To have access to current contact information for all child welfare staff who may answer my questions and support my personal development.
XIII. To have access to resources that support successful transition to a new placement and/or opportunity, such as college.
XIV. To have support from adults on my team in planning for independence and preparing to succeed after I leave foster care.
XV. To be treated, and to have my belongings treated, with dignity and respect when I move from one placement to another.
I am guaranteed the following rights that support positive relationships:
I. To have as much assistance as I need in developing relationships and resources that support me during and after foster care. This includes the right to support from my team in identifying and developing mentoring and life-long supportive relationships.
II. To have support and assistance in building relationships with my relatives, foster parents, and others that could lead to legal permanence or life-long connections.
III. To maintain or develop healthy relationships with my siblings, biological family, and extended kin while I am in care.
IV. To honest conversations about changes in or the end of key relationships, including those with my biological and foster families, GAL, social worker, mentor, and others important to me.
V. To have my support team treat me with respect and dignity while I am in and as I prepare to leave foster care.
VI. To communicate directly with my social worker’s supervisor and to ask for assistance if I think my rights, as stated in this document, have been violated.
The Youth Bill of Rights informs District youth in care of services and benefits available to them through the child welfare system.