UBI for Foster Youth Pilot in Santa Clara County is Extended

This week, the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approved extending their first-of-its-kind pilot program that provides universal basic income to transition age foster youth. The pilot program, created at the request of Senator Cortese in 2020, has been extended for an additional six months with an added investment of $500,000 from the County.

Our pilot program in Santa Clara County is yielding clear results and inspiring a growing number of similar direct cash assistance initiatives across the nation. Foster youth in this program are reporting they are able to use these funds to sustain their basic needs and to improve their credit score,” said Senator Cortese. “And with my bill, SB 739, moving forward, we have the opportunity to bring this successful model statewide.”

SB 739, the Universal Basic Income for Transition Age Foster Youth Act, would provide unconditional and direct cash assistance of $1,000 a month to approximately 2,500 youth aging out of the Extended Foster Care Program in California in a pilot program administered by the Department of Social Services over the course of three years. The bill has passed the State Senate and is set to be heard in the Assembly Human Services Committee on June 30th.

A recent report on the County’s pilot program included the following: “When asked open-ended questions about the impact of the funding and plans to maintain their current lifestyle after the pilot ends, respondents reported that the funding has allowed them to cover basic expenses and some savings. Many hope to save enough during the pilot to maintain stability after the pilot ends.”

“For those participating in financial mentorship, they have reported significant increases in their credit scores, a feeling of empowerment to obtain financial resources, and one youth was able to establish and meet a savings goal for a down payment on a house.”

Senator Cortese pointed to other jurisdictions exploring guaranteed basic income as a means to uplift underserved communities, including the newly announced pilot in New York City entitled the “Trust Youth Initiative” - the nation’s first direct cash program for youth experiencing homelessness in which 30-40 young adults experiencing homelessness will receive $1,250 per month for up to 2 years.