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Youth in Foster Care— Vulnerability and Responses Howard Davidson, J.D. Director, ABA Center on Children and the Law Child.

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Presentation on theme: "Youth in Foster Care— Vulnerability and Responses Howard Davidson, J.D. Director, ABA Center on Children and the Law Child."— Presentation transcript:

1 Youth in Foster Care— Vulnerability and Responses Howard Davidson, J.D. Director, ABA Center on Children and the Law Child Welfare Agencies Responding to Child Identity Theft U.S. Department of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime April 10, 2013

2 1. Personal information of children in foster care (including Social Security Number) is more accessible 2. Misuse of their identities is far more likely to go unidentified for longer 3. Children who are abused or neglected may have family members that misuse their identity Why Foster Kids Are At Heightened Vulnerability For Identity Theft

3 4. Many foster children have parents with severe substance abuse and mental health issues, making identity misuse to “pay bills” or “make purchases” more probable 5. Many foster children change settings frequently – thus their “personal data” changes hands often 6. Identity theft discovery has been a low-priority issue for many child welfare agencies

4 7. Foster kids generally don’t have “family advocates” to help them 8. Child welfare agencies have not (until recently) routinely looked into foster children’s possible credit problems, even during their “transition period” before emancipation 9. If a youth only learns about the theft of their identity after emancipation, it can negatively affect their successful transition to adulthood

5 Federal Law (P.L. 112–34 September 2011) … each child in foster care under the responsibility of the State who has attained 16 years of age receives without cost a copy of any consumer report (as defined in section 603(d) of the Fair Credit Reporting Act) pertaining to the child each year until the child is discharged from care, and receives assistance (including, when feasible, from any court-appointed advocate for the child) in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report. Law and Policy Responses

6 Children’s Bureau New Program Instruction on Identity Theft Checks ACYF-CB-PI (5/8/12) policies/policy/pi/2012/pi1207.pdf Advises states on how to comply with the 2011 federal law (IV-E) requirement to do annual credit reporting agency checks (from all 3 of these agencies) for all foster youth age 16 and older State Title IV-E agencies were required to submit their Title IV-E plan amendment to show compliance with this requirement by August 13, 2012

7 I’ve found 8 state laws that have addressed this: CA (2006); CO (2011); CT (2010); DC (2010); DE (2013); IL (2010); TX (2011); VA (2012) And I know of 12 child welfare agencies that have policies on obtaining foster child credit reports: - IN (pre-federal law, in 2009 – had the first mandate to assist in requesting free credit reports for foster youth - in their child welfare manual) - Other 11 (AK, KY, MD, MO, NE, NY, ND, OR, RI, VA, WA) - Policies vary in terms of follow up if credit discrepancies are found (e.g., reporting to prosecutor or A.G., referring for credit counseling, using annualcreditreport.com, consulting with child’s GAL, having a central state-level office resolve problems, consulting with the Identity Theft Resource Center)

8 PENDING MARYLAND LEGISLATION MD HB1125 (2013) – Unfavorably reported 3/20 by Judiciary Comm. -- Would have required the state child welfare agency to assist children in obtaining a police-issued “Identity Theft Passport for all I.D. theft victims in foster care or in the care state’s Juvenile Services agency MD HB1297 (2013) –Came close to becoming law – Would have required each local child welfare agency to request a “Security Freeze” on credit reports/records of children in foster care (would have amended Maryland’s unique parent- initiated Child Identity Lock law)

9 The age when first “credit check” is to be made, and whether re-check is made annually The age when first “credit check” is to be made, and whether re-check is made annually Whether checks can be to just one, or to all three national credit reporting agencies Whether checks can be to just one, or to all three national credit reporting agencies Doing checks for all under 21 youth in independent living programs Doing checks for all under 21 youth in independent living programs Using contracted providers to review and repair child’s credit Using contracted providers to review and repair child’s credit Requiring report to legislature on implementation and whether new legislative or regulatory action is needed Requiring report to legislature on implementation and whether new legislative or regulatory action is needed How Laws Differ Regarding Checking for Foster Child Identity Theft

10 What remedial actions must be taken if a “bad credit entry” is found, and who must be notified of the credit check result What remedial actions must be taken if a “bad credit entry” is found, and who must be notified of the credit check result Which youth are excluded from having their credit checked Which youth are excluded from having their credit checked Development of forms for doing the checks Development of forms for doing the checks Assigning IDs other than SSNs as children enter foster care, and reviewing all requests for the SSN and limiting that access Assigning IDs other than SSNs as children enter foster care, and reviewing all requests for the SSN and limiting that access Provision of agency immunity in connection with credit checking/assisting Provision of agency immunity in connection with credit checking/assisting

11 We need to know: 1) The cost of doing credit checks for large numbers of foster children 2) what % of inquiries result in “bad hits” 3) how difficult it is to make credit “corrections” 4) who bears the cost of the checking and correcting We need to be asking former foster youth what they think should be done regarding both identity theft checks and the broader and more important issue of youth financial literacy Withholding SSNs from foster parents, as an identity theft protection measure, can deprive foster children of financial support through foster parent tax benefits Several Issues and Concerns

12 Accessing Materials from February 2013 Forum on Child Identity Theft news.asp#itac


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