PRESS RELEASE: 2020 Budget Act Results In a Victory for Transition Age Foster Youth
2020 Budget Act Results In a Victory for Transition Age Foster Youth
Sacramento, CA – Yesterday Governor Newsom and the Legislature reached a budget deal providing a much-needed safety net for foster youth. This is a tremendous step toward protecting and advocating for vulnerable foster youth during a declared state of emergency. This year’s budget required tough decisions but by prioritizing foster youth, the final agreement reflects compassionate leadership. The addition to the Budget Act of 2020 (SB 121, AB 89) appropriates $32 million to the Extended Foster Care program and broadens eligibility to those who would have lost their benefits in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. The final agreement extends benefits until June 30, 2021, ensuring over 3,000 foster youth the age of 21 and older are afforded the right to stability, education, and safe housing in the midst of extreme instability during the greatest global pandemic of our time.
“I’m crying for joy! This milestone is monumental and directly impacts the day-to-day lives of thousands of transition-age foster youth. I want to thank the Legislature’s leadership and Governor Newsom for taking action in the budget to protect our foster youth. I have worked my entire career to provide foster youth the support and opportunities they deserve to succeed and am relieved to know we will continue to protect them during the current emergency,” said Beall. “I also want to thank the many advocates and current and former foster youth who shared their stories and helped achieve today’s success.”
“While the budget provides temporary relief, we can and must do more to ensure foster youth have certainty when the next emergency inevitably arises. Senate Bill 912 will build upon the action taken yesterday and establish a standard procedure during any future state of emergency to ensure youth remain safe in existing services and also have adequate time to plan their transition from extended foster care.”
“The thought of having to tell our clients that we might not have an answer for them - when they had worked so hard to get to college, hold down jobs, or sign their first lease only to face losing it all because of the pandemic was heartbreaking. We are thrilled to instead be able to tell them that the Legislature and the Governor heard them, heard us - and has stepped up and will provide the support needed to ensure that they do not become homeless or go hungry. Senator Beall has long been a champion for California’s foster youth. His tenacity and commitment when the chance for success seemed so grim make him a true hero.” – Leslie Heimov, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center of California.
“Youth Law Center applauds Governor Newsom and the Legislature for investing in transition-age foster youth in this year’s budget. Young adults who grew up in foster care will need a strong safety net and a robust policy response to facilitate their transition to independence in the face of unprecedented barriers to housing, education, and employment. This investment in the extended foster care program is a critical step toward ensuring the housing stability and wellbeing for youth who would otherwise exit care as soon as next week. We are deeply appreciative to Senator Beall for his years of leadership on extended foster care, and to the young people who mobilized to voice the need for urgent action on this issue.” – Sabrina Forte, Staff Attorney, Youth Law Center
"For foster youth, the sudden and life-threatening stressors that COVID-19 created are immeasurable. As someone that experienced foster care, I can understand the tremendous anxiety, vulnerability, and in some instances desperation youth in foster care are experiencing and without the emotional or financial support of family and loved ones. A large number of foster youth have lost jobs and with many being part-time or lower-wage jobs are ineligible for unemployment, creating further instability and uncertainty. Around 30% of California foster youth end up homeless and that was before the pandemic. COVID-19 has undoubtedly resulted in additional youth going without safe shelter and becoming food insecure. We are tremendously grateful for the Governor's quick actions to protect those youth aging out during the initial crisis and for the Legislature's support and persistence ensuring these supports be in place for the coming months as foster youth struggle to stay in school, stay healthy and in safe housing during a time of economic uncertainty. We are sincerely grateful to know California has leaders that care about us and are willing to continue to invest in the wellbeing of children and youth in foster care. In particular, Senator Beall has continued to be a fierce champion for foster youth, he is unwavering in his commitment to see children and youth in the system receive the supports necessary to survive and thrive" – Ashely Lizarraga, MSSW and Journey House Member
"As a result of COVID, my hours at work were cut drastically. It's difficult to explain the fear of not knowing where I was going to be or how I was going to pay my bills. As a non-minor dependent, I don't have family or other adults to fall back on. It's a relief to learn that California's leaders have taken action to support me and other foster youth. This action will ensure I have a place to live and survive during these hard times. COVID won't last forever, and this additional support means I have the space to think about my future, and my goal of completing my medical program when schools reopen. Thank you Senator Beall, Governor Newsom and legislators for supporting foster youth." – RC, a Children’s Law Center client who turned 21 in late April during COVID-19 pandemic