Q: I am a volunteer for youth in our county juvenile probation department and am currently working with a young woman, age 18. I was told by her probation officer that she is not eligible for AB 12 services because her “orders were vacated” prior to turning 18 after being on run-away status for an extended time. What does that mean and is eligible or not?
A: If a youth is absent from their placement for a specified period of time, the court has the discretion to “vacate the orders” of the youth, which essentially means to cancel the youth’s placement orders. If the youth did not have a court order for foster care placement in place on her 18th birthday, then the probation officer is correct and she is not be eligible for extended foster care.
Given this, it is important for minor’s attorneys and public defenders to work to ensure that a court does not vacate the orders of a youth under the age of 18, not only because it closes off the opportunity to participate in AB 12 services at a later time, but because this youth is still a minor who has found to be unable to return home due to abuse and neglect and is the state’s responsibility. Vacating the orders for placement means that no one is responsible for this young person’s well-being, even though the court had previously determined that the youth cannot live at home safely.