New Bill Would Remove Obstacles for Education and Training Opportunities Funds for Foster Youth

January 22, 2019

Sacramento–Today, Senator Jim Beall (D-15), a champion for foster youth throughout California, introduced a bill that would strengthen financial support to any individual who has spent time in the foster care system for the purpose of obtaining a college degree. SB 150 would improve their access to state grants and ensure they are delivered in a timely manner.

“Foster youth deserve every opportunity to receive an education and join the workforce,” said Beall. “Any way we can improve programs designated to support them in their career endeavors is the right thing to do.”

The Chafee Education and Training Voucher (Chafee ETV), administered by the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), provides financial assistance for current and former foster youth attending college. By the age of 26, just four percent of foster youth hold a bachelor’s degree or higher as compared to 26 percent of the same-age population. The Chafee voucher is unique to other forms of financial aid in that it provides critical resources for living expenses and textbooks in addition to tuition and fees.

Under the current system there are bureaucratic delays in grant disbursements as well as performance conditions for continued funding. As foster youth face financial and academic obstacles many students do not, these conditions are extra burdensome.  Sen. Beall’s legislation would remove obstacles like rigid academic benchmarks tied to financial support and promote prompt delivery of funds to all eligible students.

Former senator John Burton applauded the effort saying, “In the past, expectations for youth in foster care were low, and college seemed out-of-reach.” He continued, “With SB 150 California is changing that by expanding access to a vital source of financial aid, the Chafee Education and Training Voucher. Thank you Senator Beall for introducing this important legislation, which will open the doors of higher education to thousands of California’s most vulnerable.”

Ensuring consistency in the delivery and availability of funds is crucial to avoid a lapse in students’ enrollment and academic progress. Without consistent financial support, a student would face not only a disruption in their course work, but may face homelessness or other financial hardship.

“Earning a college degree has become increasingly important for the economic well-being of all Californians, which is why making college affordable through investments in financial aid is essential,” said David Rattray, Executive Vice President of the Center for Education Excellence & Talent Development at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. “We commend Senator Jim Beall’s ongoing work to ensure that foster youth, who are among our state’s most vulnerable students, are able to access financial aid for college through SB 150, making a successful future for these students within their reach,” said Rattray.