By law, States must provide a youth with a list of their rights relating to education, health, visitation, court participation, and access to documents.

(applies to youth age 14+)

Why it matters

Foster youth rights and protections refer to the legal and ethical guidelines that ensure the well-being and safeguarding of youth in foster care. Originating from many policies and laws, such as the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, these rights are designed to provide a stable and supportive environment for youth who have been removed from their birth families and placed into care. They cover a range of considerations, from educational and healthcare access to family reunification plans and freedom from discrimination.

Quick Facts

  • Foster youth rights are governed by a series of federal and state laws, with significant legislations like the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 and the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008.

  • Preventing Sex Trafficking & Strengthening Families Act (2014) ensured youth in care had the legal right to receive a copy of their rights, once they are 14 years of age or older.

  • As of 2019, there are 15 states and 1 US Territory (Puerto Rico) with Youth Bills of Rights. Several states have also created a Policy of Rights.

  • Foster youth usually "age out" of the system at 18, although some states offer extended foster care services up to age 21 to aid in the transition to adulthood.

“Did I know my rights? No I did not. The only time I was informed of anything was when FosterClub came to my state back in 2016 — and that was the first time I was educated on any of this stuff.

— Anthony Angell, 23 yrs old, Oregon

Want to Learn More?

Rights of Youth in Foster Care, Child Welfare Information Gateway

Reducing Vulnerability of Foster Youth to Predators and Sex Trafficking, recommendations from the National Foster Care Youth & Alumni Policy Council. These recs led to the requirement that states provide a list of rights to all youth age 14+ in foster care

How we're working on this issue

Training for Youth About Their Rights

LGBTQ2S+ FosterClub LEx leaders often meet with federal officials to discuss their experiences related to sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) while in foster care. Conversations range from whether youth feel safe disclosing their SOGI, to the impact of coming out during their time in foster care.

Supported the Federal Foster Youth Bill of Rights Resolution

FosterClub championed Congressman Emmanuel Cleaver III (D-MO-05) and Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE-02) introduced a bipartisan resolution on rights for foster youth. The resolution outlines 10 key areas of foster youth rights.

“When I went to voice my concerns, I didn’t know how to voice them. ”

— Dequincy Bergen, age 25, spent 5  years in Montana and Texas foster care

Blogs on Youth Rights in Foster Care