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Should young people in foster care have the right to access their own records? Who should be responsible for making sure they get copies of critical documents like their birth certificate or social security card? Check out this recent article from the Sun Sentinel in Florida, then tell us what you think.

Foster Kids Need a Chance at Open Government Too

THE ISSUE: Give foster care kids access to their own records

• Mar 21, 2009 • FL -

You'd think a teenager in the state's foster-care system would be able to get a copy of his or her records, those important documents needed to obtain a driver's license, apartment or job. Not so in Florida, and the irony is striking. Access to foster care records is legal, but extremely difficult. One literally needs a judge's order to make the information public.

So it's ironic that during the week Florida celebrated the 100th anniversary of its landmark open meetings and public records laws, supporters of an initiative to make it easier for foster kids, their attorneys, caregivers, guardians ad litem and prospective adoptive parents to obtain foster-care records have seen their efforts sputter in the Florida Legislature. HB 1439 and SB 126 are stalled in their respective chambers and time to move them is running out. In the Florida House, committee deliberations on legislation will end this week, leaving most bills that haven't been heard by a panel to languish. HB 1439, unfortunately, is one of those bills.

The Senate sponsor, Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, has tried to broker a compromise between two state agencies that have opposing views on her bill. The Florida Department of Children & Families supports more open access while the state's Guardian Ad Litem office does not. Gov. Charlie Crist could end this bureaucratic impasse in a heartbeat, but he's been MIA on this one. That's a shame for a governor who has championed open-records initiatives, and it doesn't say much about state lawmakers who seem content to let this important legislation die on the proverbial vine.

The measure deserves quick passage so that foster kids, who rank among the more disadvantaged youths in our state, can have easy access to their records — and the public will have a better understanding of how well foster care really works.

BOTTOM LINE: Approve the legislation so they can become law.

Location

Florida
5 Comments
Mar 24, 2009 By FC Steve

Comments

gkjackjr1's picture

gkjackjr1 said:

I believe that when a child is ready to access those sealed documents, the state should allow it to happen

Anonymous's picture

Anonymous (not verified) said:

In Vermont I havent had that much trouble getting the ok to have my birth certificate and what not however i have had issues tracking them down..

brady1's picture

brady1 (not verified) said:

brady ^.^
exactly i don't even know my real dad really just what my mom told me..you know like if he is really my dad.... -

lovediamonds1's picture

lovediamonds1 (not verified) said:

Absolutely! Foster Kids should always be able to access their records. Then again, it could differ. It Should be a case where A group of members[Social Workers] get together to review the case after the child requests to see the records(Also after a minimum age like 16/17). Then, if it is like a case where the documents will hurt the child in any way then maybe no. After 18 then they could get it. They are adults then--its not their responsibility. If we get hurt, they at least prevented it from hurting out teenage years. you know? MiSs BuTtErFlY

barb20's picture

barb20 (not verified) said:

Yes I think foster children should be able to look at their records.it is about them.Like me they could of been in foster care all their kid life.They mite not remember why they got in care .I could see if the records was about someone eles.But its about us.It could help us in the long run.Like the records would have it about what are parents did and us looking at it would help us understand them more .plus when we want to have kids not to make the same mistake like they did