CASA Deep Dive: Legislative Priorities – Improving Outcomes for Older & Transitioning Youth
To keep you informed and inspired during the 86th Legislative Session, Texas CASA is taking the next few months to dive in to some of our key legislative priorities. Read more about our legislative priorities and our work leading up to, and during, the session.
TEXAS CASA LEGISLATIVE PRIORITY
Improve services and supports for older and transitioning foster youth.
Older youth in foster care, including those at risk of aging out, face extremely difficult challenges. Youth who transition out of foster care are often not prepared for adulthood and, as such, have disproportionately adverse outcomes compared to young people their age who did not leave the foster care system at 18. Some of these outcomes include:
- higher pregnancy and incarceration rates before the age of 21,
- lower likelihood of completing high school with a diploma,
- increased likelihood of experiencing homelessness,
- decreased likelihood of having an ID or driver’s license (check out this recent Texas Standard special),
- higher likelihood of being underemployed or unemployed, and
- higher likelihood of experiencing physical and mental health challenges.
Fortunately, the 86th Legislature has already shown great interest in improving outcomes for this population, and several related bills have already been filed. Given this focus, Texas CASA is excited to be working closely with legislators and other child welfare advocacy groups to improve the laws in place to support this vulnerable group of young adults.
What are some of the efforts to improve outcomes for youth at risk of transitioning out of foster care this session?
There are many efforts underway, and many bills have already been filed, on issues such as:
- requiring youth in Permanent Managing Conservatorship (those at risk of transitioning out of care) to have an attorney ad litem,
- creating a mentorship program for older youth, and
- reducing barriers for youth to get an ID or driver’s license (a Texas CASA champion bill).
Texas CASA has also been working closely with other stakeholder groups and Sen. Kirk Watson on an omnibus bill aimed at improving many different aspects of how the state prepares youth in foster care for adulthood. Additionally, Texas CASA is working on a bill that would help ensure that youth who transition out of foster care remain covered by Medicaid, as required by Federal law – check out our deep dive from last month for more information on that. To follow all of these bills and others, visit our Bill Tracker, which lists many of the bills that Texas CASA supports, our champion bills and the status of all the bills we are tracking. You can even see what bills are up for hearing each week on our events calendar!
What can I do to help?
Join our movement! If you’re not yet involved with CASA, consider taking the first step towards becoming a CASA volunteer, or making a donation to support our work.
If you are specifically interested in legislative advocacy and supporting CASA’s legislative priorities, consider joining your CASA program’s Legislative Advocacy Team (LAT). If your program does not have a LAT and you would like more information on starting one, contact Texas CASA Legislative Advocacy Coordinator Ann Strauser Palmer at email@example.com.
As mentioned above, you can also follow our Bill Tracker for an up-to-date snapshot of the child welfare bills filed this session.
If you have any questions or would like more information on this or any of our legislative priorities for the 2019 Legislative Session, contact the Public Policy team at firstname.lastname@example.org.