In October 2014, Congress passed the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act (the Strengthening Families Act). Advocates for Children and Youth is working to ensure that the provisions that become effective in October 2015 are implemented consistent with best practices here in Maryland.
- Reasonable & Prudent Parenting Standard: The Strengthening Families Act wants to normalize foster youth’s lives. This standard allows caretakers of foster youth to make regular day-to-day decisions that biological parents make on issues such as sleepovers rather than requiring criminal background checks in such instances. For more information, click here: RPPS Document.
- Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement: Each foster youth has a permanency plan that all parties are working towards. These include Reunification, Custody/Guardianship, Adoption, and if all of those have been ruled out, Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA). As of October, APPLA cannot be used for foster youth under 16. For youth 16 and older with an APPLA plan, the court must document their ongoing efforts to find a permanent home for that young person.
- Empowering Foster Youth Age 14 and Older in Developing their Case Plan: Beginning in October, foster youth who are 14 and older are encouraged to be engaged in developing their case plans, which includes selecting other adults they want to be involved in the process. They are also required to receive a list of their rights while in foster care. For more information, click here: Empowering foster youth in case planning letterhead.
- A Guide for the Bench: For a more detailed overview of each of these provisions and ways the courts can ensure these provisions are being implemented adequately, click here: Normalcy Questions for Judges.