Situation: Kate is 15 years old and 5-months pregnant. She got into a fight with her parents a week ago and left her house. She has nowhere to go and prior to this disagreement has had a good relationship with her parent and she doesn’t want to involve social services.
Question: Can Kate check into a shelter?
Answer: Yes. Starting July 1, 2020, Kate may stay in a shelter without her parent’s consent and without having to involve social services. As soon as possible and within 72 hours the shelter must contact Kate’s parents. However, if the shelter suspects that Kate is being abused, they do not have to notify her parents but must notify the proper authorities instead.
Situation: Elizabeth has a 6-month-old son and lives in an abusive home. She is 16 years old and has nowhere to go.
Question: Can Elizabeth and her son check into a shelter?
Answer: Yes! Elizabeth may stay in a shelter without her parent’s consent. She can consent for herself and her son. However, because of the abuse this will open an investigation with Child Protective Services, and Elizabeth will have a court hearing to determine if she is a “Child in Need of Assistance.” If so, she can choose to enter the foster care system.
In the 2020 Maryland General Assembly, a new law was passed to help youth seeking emergency shelter. As of July 1, 2020, an unaccompanied minor in need of shelter of any age will be able to consent to shelter and supportive services. As soon as possible and within 72 hours the shelter must contact the minor’s parents or legal guardians. However, an exception to the parent notification requirement occurs if the service provider suspects any abuse or neglect of the unaccompanied minor. The shelter must then instead of the parents immediately notify the appropriate authorities of the suspected abuse or neglect in accordance with § 5–704 of the family law article. For more information, visit this link about Maryland HB0206.
Teen parents in the foster care system:
- Should alert their case managers as soon as they learn they are pregnant to gain access to pregnancy options counseling and/or prenatal care.
- Have full decision-making authority over their pregnancy, and the care and custody of their child. Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen. II § 20-102(c)(4)-(5).
- Have the right to care for their child. A child will not be taken away from except in cases of neglect or abuse.
- May have to be placed in another foster care home that is authorized for infants and their mothers