Information for Youth and Young Adults

As a Foster Youth, You Have Rights

image of Rights and Expectations for Children and Youth in Shelter or Foster Care Brochure

To Know Your Rights

  • To be given a copy of this document,
  • To have your rights explained to you in words you can understand, and
  • To have your rights explained when you enter into care and every time you move to a different placement.

To Have Your Rights Respected
The people responsible for your care and protection must respect your civil and legal rights.

To Privacy

  • To have your privacy protected,
  • To send and receive mail without anyone reading it unless the judge says someone else can open your mail to protect your safety, and
  • To make telephone calls at reasonable times, unless the judge says you cannot.

To Have Your Property Protected

  • To have your property (for example, your clothes, books, electronics, money and other things you own) kept safe where you live.
  • To bring your property with you when you move,
  • To be told how money being held by the Department is being used.
  • To ask that your money be used for specific things, and
  • To ask that your money be saved for future uses.

To Live With Your Parents or Caregivers unless a person from the Department and a judge determines that you must be moved.

To Live In A Safe Place

  • To live in a safe home where no one will touch you without your permission, scare you, or hurt you, and<
  • To live in a home where you will not get into trouble for telling people that your rights or safety are not being protected.

To Understand Documents You Are Asked to Sign

  • To have any person who asks you to fill out or sign a paper explain it to you, and
  • To understand what you are signing and why you are being asked to sign it.

To Complain about Your Care or Services

  • To make a grievance (a complaint) to the Department about how you are being cared for by your foster parents, services worker, or other people providing you services,
  • To make a grievance to the Department if any of your rights are violated,
  • To make a grievance to your community-based care provider, and
  • To have a lawyer or other person assist you in making a grievance or complaint.

To Be Heard In Court

  • To attend court hearings involving your care, and
  • To tell the judge what is happening to you and what you want.

To Have Representation In Court

  • To have a guardian ad litem appointed for you by the judge,
  • To have the guardian ad litem tell the judge what you want, in addition to what your guardian ad litem thinks is best for you,
  • To obtain an attorney of your choice, or to ask the judge to appoint one for you, and
  • To have the immediate and unlimited ability to meet with your guardian ad litem and attorney.

To Medical Care

  • To be taken to doctors and dentists, including eye doctors, for medical evaluation and treatment.

To Education

  • To attend school, and
  • To obtain special educational services if you need them.

To Permanency

  • To have all efforts in court made with out delay because time is of the essence (very important).
  • To have a permanent home or family.

To Same Rights As Everyone Else

  • To enjoy the same rights established in the Constitutions of the United States and Florida as every other person in the state. That means you have the right to individual dignity, liberty, privacy, pursuit of happiness, and the protection of your civil and legal rights.