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Iowa Foster Care Youth Council Present ‘Amp Day on the Hill’

Foster care youth held the annual AMP Day on the Hill event on Jan. 24 at the Iowa State Capitol. The event included a press conference, where AMP presented its 2023 Legislative Agenda. In addition, Gov. Kim Reynolds and YSS President & CEO Andrew Allen made remarks, and YSS youth and staff shared their lived experiences.

AMP (Achieving Maximum Potential) is a statewide foster care youth council led by YSS and funded by the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services. The organization offers opportunities for youth in foster care and other out-of-home placements to build life skills, practice advocacy, and connect with their peers. With the motto “Nothing about us, without us,” AMP empowers Iowa’s youth to advocate for themselves and make foster care more responsive and effective.

“AMP is all about connection. AMP exists to be a safe place for youth to connect with one another, connect with their communities, and connect with opportunities to advocate for positive changes to Iowa’s Child Welfare System,” said Samanthya Marlatt, AMP Program Manager.

Each year, AMP youth form their official legislative agenda, which they share with Iowa’s legislators and the public. For 12 years, AMP Day on the Hill has been successful in making change for Iowa’s youth, passing laws that include implementing the Guardian Assistance Program to increase permanency for foster youth; strengthening Iowa code to keep siblings together when out-of-home placements are necessary; and allowing foster youth to remain in care until age 21.

2023 AMP Legislative Agenda:

Prioritize Normalcy for Kinship and Group Placements

  • Codify financial support for kinship families – Provide the same financial support to kinship caregivers as received by non-relative foster families so children can stay and thrive with their biological families or other adults with whom they have a family-like relationship. This will protect the right to normalcy for youth placed with kin by removing financial barriers and constraints on the youth’s participation in developmentally appropriate and normal activities.

Ease Access to Education

  • Clarify enrollment responsibility – Strengthen existing Iowa Code to clarify responsibility for enrolling a youth in foster care in school.
  • Ease transferring across districts – Require the Iowa Department of Education to create a process and standard that ensures all credits earned or education levels achieved by foster youth transfer with the youth when they transfer school districts. This will ease the transition into new schools and increase high school completion rates for youth in foster care.
  • Codify a grace period for enrollment documents – Implement a grace period for submitting birth certificate, proof of residence, vaccination records, or other documents that would delay placement of a child in the school setting. This will minimize the impact of missing school for a youth in foster care.

Raise the Age (in collaboration with the Iowa Juvenile Justice Youth Council)

  • Establish minimum age – Establish 12 years old as the minimum age of culpability for children in delinquency proceedings. Currently, there is not a minimum age for children in Iowa’s delinquency court.
  • Extend age of juvenile court jurisdiction – Give juvenile court authority to extend the age a youth may remain under juvenile court jurisdiction beyond 18 to 21 years of age. The extended age of jurisdiction will allow youth to receive needed support and services.

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