SB 912 Emergency Foster Care Protections

August 31, 2020

Sacramento - Senator Jim Beall puts Senate Bill 912 on Governor Newsom’s desk to protect foster youth during emergencies. SB 912 responds to the COVID-19 pandemic and establishes standard procedures for future states of emergency, ensuring that foster youth remain safe and have access to essential services. This bill received unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate, sending a resounding message to the Governor: protect our foster youth.

The COVID-19 pandemic revealed that there is no plan, no recourse, and no security for the State’s most vulnerable youth. "Emergencies are not the time to pull the rug out from under foster youth,” said Senator Jim Beall. “We are responsible for these young adults.”

During emergencies, California’s transition age foster youth are at a heightened risk of becoming ill, homeless, and losing the resources they need to successfully transition to independence. Despite best intentions, 200 youth aged out of care between when the Governor declared a State of Emergency and when his executive order (EO) to extend foster care benefits took effect on April 17.

In June, Senator Beall successfully collaborated with foster care advocates to take swift action to secure $35 million in this year’s budget to extend services an additional year for those aging out of EFC during the COVID crisis. SB 912 automatically extends services 6-months for future declared emergencies and closes the gap for the youth the EO left behind.

 SB 912 establishes emergency protocols for non-minor dependents during future declared states of emergencies. Specifically, it will:

- Extend services to non-minor dependents who aged out of extended foster care between March 4, 2020 and April 16, 2020 – after the declared State of Emergency due to COVID-19, but before the extended foster care provisions of Executive Order N-53-20

- Provide for an automatic extension of six months of extended foster care services during any future declared State of Emergency.

"Foster youth are the responsibility of the State; the Legislature must ensure safeguards are in place for them, especially in a time of uncertainty. SB 912 is one of the most important pieces of legislation considered this year. It provides certainty and safety for foster youth, protecting them from unpredictable states of emergency or being used as a bargaining chip to leverage negotiations." - Senator Jim Beall

 “Youth Law Center strongly urges Governor Newsom to sign SB 912. California’s foster youth deserve the certainty that when the next public health emergency or natural disaster sweeps across our state, too rapidly for systems to immediately respond, extended foster care will be there to protect their health, housing, and wellbeing. SB 912 is necessary to ensure that youth in extended foster care have the safety net to navigate times of crisis and become thriving adults.” -Jennifer Rodriguez, Executive Director, Youth Law Center

 “Children’s Law Center of California has seen firsthand the overwhelming impact this pandemic has had on transition age youth in foster care.  Knowing that there are youth out there who turned 21 during the pandemic but due to the unfortunate timing of their birthdate are not receiving necessary lifesaving support is devastating.  These youth have been forced to exit care without the safety net of a formal support system.  While the California budget provided critical funding for this population, there have been serious gaps in implementation – leaving far too many youth vulnerable to homelessness and food insecurity. CLC is grateful for Senator Beall’s tireless work on behalf of transition age youth and applauds the Legislature for its unwavering support of SB 912. We are hopeful that Governor Newsom will add his name to the list of Assemblymembers and Senators who have shown they understand the plight these youth are facing and will fulfill the state’s commitment to youth in foster care by signing this critical legislation.”

 “The shutdown in California due to the pandemic has resulted in a large number of foster youth losing their jobs, many being part-time or lower-wage jobs that leave them ineligible for unemployment. Other foster students have been displaced from college dorms and campus housing. Even before the pandemic, around 30% of California foster youth end up homeless. COVID19 has undoubtedly resulted in additional youth going without safe shelter and becoming food insecure. The transition to adulthood is extremely difficult to navigate under normal circumstances, let alone trying to find your ground while the entire world is uncertain about when things will get better. We are tremendously grateful for the Governor's quick action to protect youth aging out during the initial Coronavirus crisis and implore Governor Newsom to sign SB 912 (Beall) protecting California's foster youth not just during COVID 19, but future emergencies that may jeopardize foster youth such as wildfires and flooding."  -Jesse Aguiar, Director, Beyond Foster Care

 

CONTACT

Andrea Bonilla
916-651-4015, andrea.bonilla@sen.ca.gov