AN ACT establishing a foster care children's bill of rights.


SPONSORS: Sen. Feltes, Dist 15; Sen. Reagan, Dist 17; Sen. Carson, Dist 14; Sen. Cavanaugh, Dist 16; Sen. Fuller Clark, Dist 21; Sen. Hennessey, Dist 5; Rep. M. MacKay, Hills. 30; Rep. Morrison, Rock. 9; Rep. Wallner, Merr. 10


COMMITTEE: Health and Human Services






This bill establishes a bill of rights for children in foster care.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.






In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eighteen


AN ACT establishing a foster care children's bill of rights.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Statement of Purpose.

I.  The rights enumerated in this act are intended to guide department of health and human services staff, foster parents, and providers in the delivery of care and services to youth in out-of-home placement with a commitment to permanency, safety and well-being.  These rights provide youth with a “voice” to be taken into consideration when decisions are made by the courts, department staff, and providers.  They are designed to ensure opportunities for age appropriate involvement in “normal” life experiences.

II.  The following assumptions, beliefs, and goals guide this foster children's bill of rights:

(a)  Everyone deserves to be safe.

(b)  All children and youth need and deserve permanency and a life of wellbeing.

(c)  Everyone, regardless of age, deserves to be treated with courtesy and respect.

(d)  All children, youth, and families have strengths.

(e)  All children and youth belong with a family or other sources of caring and support.

2  New Subdivision; Foster Care Children's Bill of Rights.  Amend RSA 170-G by inserting after section 19 the following new subdivision:

Foster Care Children's Bill of Rights

170-G:20  Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard.  The rights of children in foster care exist within the context of the reasonable and prudent parent standard defined in 42 U.S.C. section 675(10).  This means that foster parents, caretakers, and department staff must make careful and sensible decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.  The rights established in this section are to be applied in accordance with the reasonable and prudent parent standard, in a context appropriate to the age and developmental level of the child, and in recognition of the fact that some of these rights may be considered privileges to be earned.  

170-G:21  Foster Care Children's Bill of Rights.  A child who is placed in a foster home or other out-of-home placement pursuant to a juvenile court proceeding under RSA 169-B, RSA 169-C, or RSA 169-D shall have the right:

I.  To be supported in a healthy growth and developmental process from early childhood to adulthood and to be protected from all forms of abuse.

II.  To receive appropriate and team recommended treatments, including counseling, medical care, and dental treatment, within a reasonable period.

III.  To receive support from department staff, and his or her foster family or residential provider in maintaining positive contact with significant people, such as relatives, friends, teachers, and community supports, including assistance with obtaining contact information, transportation, and reasonable visitation opportunities.

IV.  To develop a support group, which may, when appropriate, include department staff, foster parents, residential staff, therapists, and other individuals with responsibility for case planning.

V.  To be treated with courtesy and respect by department staff, foster parents, residential staff, and providers without regard to race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, or disability and to participate in activities associated with his or her religious beliefs.

VI.  To participate in "normal" activities consistent with his or her age and developmental level, such as opening a bank account, celebrating birthdays, participating in graduations, and obtaining an identity card, unless restricted by the child's treatment plan, case plan, or the availability of financial resources.

VII.  To receive notice of any meetings regarding the child's case and to have opportunities to resolve potential barriers to participation, such as a lack of transportation or conflict with the child's academic schedule.

VIII.  To receive information about decisions that affect the child's life and to be notified of changes that affect his or her case plan, treatment plan, permanency, safety, stability, or wellbeing, and to have his or her voice considered in these decisions.

IX.  To be informed of all assistance that the department offers foster children related to permanency planning, education, employment, housing, and wellbeing.

X.  To receive assistance in acquiring life skills, education, training, and career guidance to accomplish personal goals, prepare for the future, and to become a self-sufficient adult after the child's transition from care.

XI.  To have an achievable transition plan when the child leaves care that is created by the foster child with the help of  his or her support group.

XII.  To attend and participate in court hearings to the extent permitted by the court and appropriate given the age and experience of the child.

XIII.  To utilize technology, such as social networking sites and cell phones, based on the child's level of maturity and responsibility and taking into account the environment in which the child is living, the support of his or her treatment team, the financial costs involved, and the child's ability to maintain privileges.

XIV.  To be informed of the process for contacting the child protective services worker's supervisor, or other department staff, the guardian ad litem, and the office of the child advocate.

XV.  To be informed by the department of the rights set forth in this section and to receive assistance in obtaining and enforcing them.

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.