Director of Capitol Engagement at California Family Council (CFC) Greg Burt expressed concern about the safety of a bill that limits foster parents’ oversight over their foster children.
California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the bill, AB 175, into law on Oct. 2.
AB 175 gives all foster children the right “at any age, to consent to or decline services regarding contraception, pregnancy care, and perinatal care, including, but not limited to, abortion services and health care services for sexual assault without the knowledge or consent of any adult,” the bill states.
“If a child was raped, shouldn’t or wouldn’t a parent want to know about it? Or if a child is going to have a surgical procedure or an abortion, shouldn’t the parent have the right to know about it?” Burt said. “This bill enables rape care, sexual assault care, abortions all to be secret from any other adult. How can the parents protect their children when things like this can happen without their knowledge?”
“It’s going to put them in danger,” he said. “California has a foster kids system that provides parents to kids who don’t have parents, to protect them, to guide them, to treat them like their own children. If you look at the rights given to the foster kids, these are rights any parents would never want to give their own children.”
The bill grants foster children the freedom “to make, send, and receive confidential telephone calls and other electronic communications, and to send and receive unopened mail, unless prohibited by court order.”
Burt said that some bad actors may play in foster children’s lives instead of their parents, and foster children are especially vulnerable to human trafficking.
“There are traffickers who know they are foster kids. They prey on them. They recruit them. And this bill makes that job easier,” Burt said.
Children who are well supervised by parents are hard to recruit, so the traffickers go to easy pickings, he said.
Burt warned that the bill may cause foster parents to fail to protect their children from getting contacted by human traffickers or recruited to drug addiction or prostitution if communication with strangers is not monitored.
In addition, according to the bill, foster parents must affirm the gender identities the children pick for themselves.
The bill gives foster children the right “to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in their court, child welfare, medical, or vital records, to be referred to by the child’s preferred name and gender pronoun, and to maintain privacy regarding sexual orientation and gender identity and expression, unless the child permits the information to be disclosed, or disclosure is required to protect their health and safety, or disclosure is compelled by law or a court order.”
Burt said that if somebody convinces the foster children of a gender different from the one they are born with, despite how young they are and that they are confused, and the parents are mandated to affirm it although they don’t agree to it or don’t believe it, it is “a recipe for disaster.”
“It is violation of the right of free speech and religious freedom,” he said.
AB 175’s drafter, Assemblymember Mike Gipson, stated on Oct. 4 in a Facebook post that the bill “seeks to ensure that the Foster Youth Bill of Rights is inclusive of the youth experience and is easily accessible to empower their decision making.”
Burt said that the bill may decrease the number of people who want to become foster parents. California is short of foster parents, he pointed out.
Another concern he expressed is that the case may be extended in the future to every child in California.