Establishes the youth in progress advisory board and regional teams for adolescents in foster care to provide mentorship of youths in foster care; requires reporting.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the social services law, in relation to establishing the youth in progress advisory board and regional teams for adolescents in foster care for the state
PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: This bill establishes a statewide youth advisory board for adolescents in foster care. The board shall be a vehicle for youth advocacy and input on policies affecting youth in care.
SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS:
Section 1, amends article 6 of the social services law by adding a new title 1-9. Titled Youth In Progress.
A new section 394, paragraph (1), establishes a. statewide youth in progress advisory board comprised of youth age 14 and older, recruited by local social services departments, authorized agencies serving adolescents in foster care and the office of children and family services. These youth must be either currently or were formerly in the foster care system and must be able to discuss issues, share common experiences and advocate for the concerns of their peers;
Paragraph (2) and (3), requires the office of children and family services to create a regional team structure for membership to the statewide advisory board and create adult mentor partnerships for each youth member. Outlines youth in progress advisory board membership composition and meeting requirements;
Paragraph (4)(a)(b), requires the youth in progress advisory board to create an annual report with recommendations; authorize the office of children and family services to provide technical assistance to distribute annual report but prohibit the agency from altering the report. The commissioner of the office of children and family services is required to submit to the youth in progress advisory board, at least sixty days prior to final approval, all non-emergency rules and regulations for review and recommendations.
§2, establishes an effective date of 60 days after becoming law.
JUSTIFICATION: Unlike California, Massachusetts and New Jersey, New York has no formal mechanisms to solicit input from foster care youth about policies affecting their care. For 16 years, foster care youth from across New York State voiced their opinions and concerns at the Office of Children and Families Services (OCFS) regional events know as "speak outs." Former OCFS commissioner John Johnson, visited many of these speak outs and listened to stories from youth in attendance. He too, recognized the need to strengthen and enhance the dialogue with foster care youth.
In 2003, the Office of Children and Family Services actively sought to create an opportunity for foster care youth to add their voices to those of other youth in addressing the issues that impact their lives. Their new initiative was to develop a statewide foster care youth leadership advisory team called "Youth In progress" (YIP). This leadership team was established through the development of a unique partnership between OCFS and its other affiliates. Together, they reached out to local districts and voluntary agencies seeking foster care youth leaders, each with a adult mentor to complete the team.
Today, the YIP team is comprised of youth leaders from each of the six OCFS mapped regions. They provide input on foster care policies and services, in order to make targeted improvements in the quality of care for foster youth.
Since its formation, Youth In progress has made many accomplishments and contributions that include presentations at the local, regional, state and national levels on the problems affecting youth in foster care and identifying possible solutions. The group has hosted and presented annual workshops at regional foster care youth speakouts. YIP has also been actively providing training, as co-trainers and panelists, for OCFS staff. More importantly, many of the youth who participate on this leadership team, become a part of a valuable focus group on foster care issues and serve as foster care experts in various settings across New York State.
This bill builds upon these accomplishments by formally recognizing the group within the law.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: First introduced in 2010. 2011-2012: S.370 - Died in Committee
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: No additional cost to state or local governments.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect 60 days after it shall have become a law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 1371 2013-2014 Regular Sessions IN SENATE (PREFILED) January 9, 2013 ___________Introduced by Sen. MONTGOMERY -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Children and Families AN ACT to amend the social services law, in relation to establishing the youth in progress advisory board and regional teams for adolescents in foster care for the state THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Article 6 of the social services law is amended by adding a new title 1-B to read as follows: TITLE 1-B YOUTH IN PROGRESS SECTION 394. YOUTH IN PROGRESS. S 394. YOUTH IN PROGRESS. 1. THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS STATEWIDE ADVISORY BOARD IS HEREBY ESTABLISHED FOR THE PURPOSES OF BRINGING TOGETHER YOUTH AGE FOURTEEN AND OLDER WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN IN FOSTER CARE IN ORDER TO DISCUSS COMMON EXPERIENCES, IDEAS AND CONCERNS. THE LOCAL SOCIAL SERVICES DEPARTMENTS, AUTHORIZED AGENCIES SERVING ADOLESCENTS IN FOSTER CARE, THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES, AND CONTRACTORS OF THE OFFICE MAY RECRUIT APPROPRIATE YOUTH TO PARTICIPATE IN THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ADVISORY BOARD AND REGIONAL TEAMS ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS. 2. THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SHALL FACILITATE THE FORMATION OF REGIONAL YOUTH IN PROGRESS TEAMS AND ASSIST IN IDENTIFYING AN ADULT MENTOR FOR EACH YOUTH TEAM MEMBER. THE REGIONAL YOUTH IN PROGRESS TEAMS AND ADULT MENTORS SHALL MEET ON A REGULAR BASIS AND SHALL CONDUCT PERIODIC REGIONAL FORUMS FOR FOSTER CARE YOUTH TO SPEAK OUT ON ISSUES OF INTEREST TO ADOLESCENTS IN FOSTER CARE. 3. THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS STATEWIDE ADVISORY BOARD, SHALL INCLUDE A REPRESENTATIVE FROM THE REGIONAL TEAMS THAT WILL ADVISE THE OFFICE OFEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD03890-01-3 S. 1371 2
CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES AND THE COUNCIL ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES ON ISSUES RELATING TO FOSTER CARE. IN EACH OF THE SIX OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES REGIONS THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS REGIONAL TEAM OR TEAMS SHALL NOMINATE UP TO FOUR YOUTH MEMBERS AND THEIR ADULT MENTORS TO PARTICIPATE IN THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ADVISORY BOARD. IN ADDI- TION, FOUR YOUTH CURRENTLY OR FORMERLY PLACED WITH THE OFFICE OF CHIL- DREN AND FAMILY SERVICES' DIVISION OF JUVENILE JUSTICE AND OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH SHALL BE SELECTED BY THE MEMBERS OF THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ADVISORY BOARD, TO BE MEMBERS OF THE ADVISORY BOARD'S MEMBER- SHIP. THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ADVISORY BOARD SHALL HAVE UP TO TWENTY-EIGHT YOUTH PARTICIPANTS AND SHALL MEET AT LEAST THREE TIMES EACH YEAR. 4. (A) THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS BOARD MAY ISSUE AN ANNUAL REPORT WITH ITS RECOMMENDATIONS ON ISSUES OF INTEREST TO ADOLESCENTS IN FOSTER CARE. THE REPORT MAY INCLUDE OTHER INFORMATION ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS BOARD. THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES SHALL PROVIDE TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE TO THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS BOARD, INCLUDING DISTRIBUTION OF THE ANNUAL REPORT. SUCH REPORTS SHALL BE MADE AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC AND SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO: THE GOVERNOR, THE LEGISLATURE, THE DIRECTOR OF THE COUNCIL ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES, AND THE MEMBER AGENCIES OF THE COUNCIL ON CHILDREN AND FAMILIES. THE CONTENTS OF THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ANNUAL REPORT SHALL BE SOLELY THE WORK PRODUCT OF THE YOUTH IN PROGRESS BOARD AND ITS MEMBERS, AND SHALL NOT BE REVISED OR EDITED BY THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES. (B) AT LEAST SIXTY DAYS PRIOR TO THE COMMISSIONER OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES FINAL APPROVAL OF RULES AND REGULATIONS PERTAINING TO FOSTER CARE OR SERVICES FOR ADOLESCENTS WHO ARE OR HAVE BEEN IN FOSTER CARE, OTHER THAN EMERGENCY RULES AND REGULATIONS, THE COMMISSIONER SHALL SUBMIT THE PROPOSED RULES AND REGULATIONS TO THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS ADVISORY BOARD FOR REVIEW. THE STATEWIDE YOUTH IN PROGRESS BOARD MAY REPORT ITS RECOMMENDATIONS THEREON TO THE COMMISSIONER OF THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES WITHIN SIXTY DAYS. S 2. This act shall take effect on the sixtieth day after it shall have become a law.