Almost a quarter of the nearly 443,000 children in foster care are age 14 or older. Just under 20,000 young people age out of care at age 18 each year. They are faced with a host of potential problems including higher rates of homelessness, unemployment, incarceration, pregnancy and lower levels of educational.
One important way states are working to improve young peoples’ transition from foster care into adulthood is to ensure that youth have the opportunity to engage in a range of developmentally and age-appropriate experiences necessary for healthy emotional and social development. The federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 now requires states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parenting standard" giving foster parents the authority to make day-to-day decisions affecting children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, social or sporting activities. A number of states define reasonable and prudent parenting standard to mean “careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety and best interest." Florida statute further identifies factors that a caregiver is to consider when using the standard:
- The child’s age, maturity and developmental level.
- Potential risk factors and the appropriateness of the activity.
- The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth and providing the child with a familylike living experience.
- The behavioral history of the child.
States also must amend state licensing standards for foster family homes and for child care institutions providing foster care to allow the use of a reasonable and prudent parenting standard. Contracts must designate an official to apply the standard. Also, caregivers must be trained on the standard.
Additionally, states are to provide regular, ongoing opportunities for youth in foster care to engage in developmentally appropriate activities.
Please note that several states, including California, Florida, Kentucky, Hawaii, Tennessee and Utah had a reasonable and prudent parenting standard or similar provision prior to the Preventing Sex Trafficking Act.
Below please find recent state enactments regarding the reasonable and prudent parenting standard.
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About This NCSL Project
The Denver-based child welfare project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child welfare issues before Congress and the Administration. Staff in D.C. can be reached at (202) 624-5400 or email@example.com.