Children’s Rights in Dependency Court

  1. You have the right to live in a safe, comfortable home with:
    • Enough clothes and healthy food
    • Your own place to store your things
    • An allowance (if you are in a group home)
    • A phone that you can use to make confidential calls (unless a judge says you cannot)

  2. You have the right to:
    • Be treated with respect
    • Go to religious services and activities of your choice
    • Send and get unopened mail (unless a judge says someone else can open your mail)
    • Contact people who are not in the foster care system (like friends, church members, teachers, and others)
    • Make contact with social workers, lawyers, probation officers, CASAs, foster youth advocates and supporters, and anyone else involved in your case
    • Be told about your placement by your social worker or probation officer

  3. No one can:
    • Lock you in a room or building (unless you are in a community treatment facility)
    • Abuse you physically, sexually, or emotionally for any reason
    • Punish you by physically hurting you for any reason
    • Look through your things unless they have a good and legal reason
    • Treat you unfairly or differently because you are of a different race, come from a different country, practice a different religion, or have a disability
    • Treat you unfairly or differently because you are a girl or because you are a boy
    • Treat you unfairly or differently because you are gay, straight, transgender, bisexual or questioning your sexual orientation or sexual identity.

  4. You have rights in court too.  You can:
    • Go to court and talk to the judge
    • See and get a copy of your court report and your case plan
    • Keep your court records private, unless the law says otherwise
    • Be told by your social worker or probation officer and your lawyer about any changes in your case plan or placement

  5. You have health rights. You can:
    • See a doctor, dentist, eye doctor, or talk to a counselor if you need to.
    • Refuse to take medicines, vitamins or herbs (unless a doctor or judge says you must)

  6. You have school rights. You can:
    • Go to school every day
    • Go to the school that is in your best interest to attend
    • Go to a regular mainstream public school (unless your educational needs require another educational placement or if it is in your best interest to attend another school)
    • Go to after-school activities that are right for your age and developmental level
    • Have access to the same resources, services, and extracurricular activities as other students
    • Finish the academic year in the school you are attending even if you are moved into another school district midway through the school year, as long as it is in your best interest
    • Enroll immediately in a new school if you have to change schools

  7. You have the right to do some things on your own. You can:
    • Have your own emancipation bank account (unless your case plan says you cannot)
    • Learn job skills right for your age
    • Work, unless the law says you are too young
    • Manage the money you earn (if right for your age, developmental level, and it is in your case plan)
    • Go to Independent Living Program classes and activities if you are old enough

  8. You have family rights too. You can:
    • Visit and contact your brothers and sisters (unless a judge says you cannot)
    • Contact parents and other family members (unless a judge says you cannot)

  9. You have other rights too. You can:
    • Tell the judge how you feel about your family, lawyer, and social worker
    • Tell the judge what you want to happen in your case
    • Have your own lawyer
    • Live with a family member if that would be a safe place
    • Call the Foster Care Ombudsperson’s Office and Community Care Licensing at any time

  10. No one can scare you, hurt you, or get you in trouble for telling people that your rights are not being protected. Also remember that the foster parent’s or group home’s job is to supervise you and keep you safe and healthy.