California legislators are considering a measure to expand and codify the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth of California passed in 2009.
The existing Bill of Rights legislation resolved to invest in all of the state’s children and youth in order to achieve specified goals aimed at creating an optimal environment for their healthy development. It stated, “All children and youth, regardless of gender, class, race, ethnicity, national origin, culture, religion, immigration status, sexual orientation, or ability, have inherent rights that entitle them to protection, special care, and assistance.
Those rights include but are not limited to right to parents, guardians, or caregivers who act in their best interest; the right to form healthy attachments with adults responsible for their care and well-being; the right to live in a safe and healthy environment; the right to social and emotional well-being; the right to opportunities to attain optimal cognitive, physical, and social development; the right to appropriate, quality education and life skills leading to self-sufficiency in adulthood; and finally, the right to appropriate, quality health care.
The pending legislation, SB18, would establish and codify a comprehensive framework to govern the assurance of these rights for all children and youth in the state. It identifies and outlines research-based, essential needs of the state’s children. It will also establish clear standards related to the health, safety and well-being of children and youth; in addition to early childhood and educational opportunities and identifies the kind of familial supports necessary for all children to succeed.
Upon passage, state legislators plan to implement the bill’s enhancements to help ensure that the Bill of Rights for Children and Youth of California is applied equitably and appropriately to all of the state’s children and youth by January 1, 2022.