Basic Rights of Youth in Foster Care
As a child or teen in foster care, you have rights to the following*:
- A safe, healthy, and comfortable home
- Freedom from physical, emotional, and sexual abuse
- Your needs for food and clothing
- Medical and dental care
- Contact with family members, unless prohibited by court order or your case plan
- Make and receive confidential letters and phone calls, unless prohibited by court order or your case plan
- Remaining in your school of origin, regardless of placement changes, if it is determined to be in your best interest
- Participation in school and religious activities of your choice
- Participation in Independent Living Skills training offered through your county, if you are 16 or older
- Employment, if you are old enough to work according to state law
- Keeping your own money and maintaining your own bank account
- Monthly contact with your social worker or probation officer
- Appearing in court and speaking to the judge before decisions are made that will impact your life
If someone is violating one of these rights, you should contact the judge overseeing your case, your social worker, or your probation officer. If they do not help you, you can find legal help at the resources listed below.
*Adapted from Legal Rights of Teens in Out-of-Home Care, a publication of the Youth Law Center. You can also find Minnesota-specific information about your rights in this publication from the Children's Law Center.
Children's Law Center
450 N. Syndicate St. #315
St. Paul, MN 55104
Phone: (651) 644-4438
The Children's Law Center provides free legal representation and assistance to youth in foster care. If you do not meet their eligibility requirements, they should be able to refer you to other sources of free legal help in Minnesota.
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS)
1000 Alliance Bank Center
55 E 5th St
St. Paul, MN 55101
Phone: (651) 222-4731
SMRLS provides free legal representation and assistance to low-income people in St. Paul and the East Metro. Although SMRLS can only take a limited number of cases, they may be able to help you, particularly with cases related to housing, homelessness, education, and consumer issues. Please note that SMRLS cannot handle criminal cases.
You can find information about other legal issues, including housing and employment, at LawHelpMN.org. Use the fact sheets provided at the site to determine if someone might be violating your rights in other areas of your life.