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Know Your Rights

All youth in foster care have rights. These rights are described in the New York State Foster Care Youth Bill of Rights, and summarized below.

You have the right to…

  • To live in a safe, nurturing and healthy environment.
  • To be treated with respect and care, free of discrimination.
  • To visit birth or adoptive parents unless the court determines it is not in a child’s best interest.
  • To live with their siblings unless the court or agency has determined it is not in a child or sibling’s best interest.
  • To know the name and contact information for their caseworker, caseworker’s supervisor and lawyer. To have my personal information kept private from people that do not have a legal right to it.
  • To be free from cruel, harsh or unnecessary punishment.
  • To have a voice in determining your permanency goal, including participating in Service Plan Review meetings and Permanency Hearings.
  • To receive dental, medical, vision, mental and behavioral health services regularly and as needed. When discharged from care, I have a right to my birth certificate, social security card, health insurance information, medical records and state issued identification (if eligible).
  • To receive free and appropriate education until you receive a high school diploma or GED (TASC), and assistance in applying to colleges and vocational programs.
  • To participate in activities that is appropriate for their age and development such as after-school activities, summer activities, employment opportunities and to practice my religion, if I have one.

Read the full Bill of Rights in English and Spanish

What to do if you feel your rights are not being respected

You have the right to be heard! You can:

  • Talk to your ACS caseworker, your foster care caseworker or social worker.
  • You can also contact the ACS Office of Advocacy and make a complaint.
  • You have a right to your own lawyer and talk to your lawyer in private. Your lawyer can tell the judge what you think, feel and want.

Your Lawyer’s Contact Information:

Legal Aid Juvenile Rights Division

Lawyers for Children

Children’s Law Center

You may also be assigned an individual attorney from the “18b panel” or “Association of Assigned Counsel”, in which case, please ask your agency case planner if you cannot locate your lawyers’ information.