March 2009 E-Newsletter
CHANGING FOSTER CARE
A bi-partisan effort to fundamentally improve California's approach to foster care is gathering steam in the State Capitol.
The Governor along with some Republican legislators have expressed their support for Assembly Bill 12, legislation that I introduced to extend foster care to age 21 with the help of federal funding.
On March 9, we held a State Capitol news conference to unveil a significant report by Mark Courtney, a professor at the University of Washington's School of Social Work, which details the benefits of providing a stronger bridge of support for young people who "age out" of our foster care system. Courtney determined that the benefits of extending foster care outweighed its costs by a 2 to 1 ratio.
Courtney's report confirms my long-held belief that if California improves foster care services for young people who are transitioning from the system into the real world, we can reduce incidences of homelessness, unwanted pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, and incarcerations - problems that are all too prevalent among kids who age out of the system.
AB 12 has garnered not only bi-partisan support, but the backing of the Assembly and Senate leadership, along with the Governor and many organizations - including the Burton Foundation.
Providing foster care benefits to young people until they are 21 makes sense: We save millions in social, human service, prison and court costs. More importantly, we are helping kids who have been neglected and abused to reach their full potential.
SHAPING CALIFORNIA'S ECONOMY
The Legislature and the governor have joined to create a bipartisan panel to examine California economic structure to avoid the massive deficits that we have seen in recent years.
Read more about how Commission on the 21st Century Economy is carrying out its work to stabilize California's finances and its tax structure.
In February, the Assembly Human Services Committee, which I chair, held an informational hearing, entitled Working Together to Ensure Housing Opportunities for People with Disabilities and Children.
The hearing was intended to increase understanding and awareness of state and federal law, including fair housing laws that apply to community housing for people with disabilities and at-risk children.
It was an opportunity to identify solutions and promising practices to address cities' concerns about the locations of treatment facilities and group homes while simultaneously protecting the rights of individuals to choose where to live.
Materials from the hearing, including the agenda, a background briefing paper, and written testimony submitted by some presenters can be found on the Human Services Committee Web Site.
A walk to commemorate Cesar E. Chavez's birthday is scheduled on Saturday, March 28, at 8:30 a.m.. The walk begins at the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose and ends at Plaza de Cesar Chavez.
The annual walk, which serves to emphasize Chavez' fight to achieve equality for exploited farm workers both in and outside the workplace, is organized by his nephew, Rudy Chavez Medina. Medina co-founded The Chavez Family Vision, Inc., a public non-profit organization, in hopes of continuing his uncle's principles and values and to unite San Jose in remembrance of a great leader. For more information about the walk visit: www.chavezfamilyvision.org.
"Cast" a ballot against climate change on March 28 at 8:30 p.m. by turning off your lights for one hour. Earth Hour - an idea that began in Sydney, Australia, in 2007 - has grown into a global happening. In 2008, 50 million people across the globe turned off their lights and landmarks such as the Golden Gate Bridge, Rome's Colosseum, the Coca Cola billboard in New York's Times Square, and Sydney's Opera House also went dark.
This year, Earth Hour organizers hope 1 billion people will take part. For more information and a complete list of the cities participating in Earth Hour, click here.
The San Jose Vet Center will play host to the 4th Annual Veteran and Family Resource Fair, scheduled for Saturday, April, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m, at the National Guard Armory, 251 W. Hedding St., San Jose.
The free event offers veterans resources, food, live music, door prizes, a silent auction, and arts and crafts for kids. The fair is open to all military and families.
Earth Day is April 22.
This year, join local non-profit Save The Bay's efforts to keep plastic bags out of the Bay. 3.8 billion plastic bags are discarded in the Bay Area every year. Millions wind up in the Bay, harming wildlife like seals, pelicans, and leopard sharks before flowing out to sea to join the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch." Save The Bay urges you to kick the bag habit and switch to reusable shopping bags! Learn more at www.saveSFbay.org.