New Foster Care Bill Will Make Critical Difference to Foster Youth
Since 1985 Kinship Center has been assisting foster youth past age 18 to attend post-secondary job training and college programs.The California Fostering Connections to Success Act that was signed into law on September 30 will make that easier.
Introduced by Jim Beall (CA 24th Assembly District, San Jose), the new law extends support services to foster youth until age 21 as long as they are working or attending school. The bill takes advantage of federal funds from the U.S. Foster Connections to Success Act of 2009. The news that California has found a vehicle for public support of foster youth until 21 is a cause for celebration at Kinship Center.
In recent times, no legislative effort for child welfare has received a stronger level of organizational and individual advocacy efforts. Our friend, Daniel Heimpel of Fostering Media Connections, got an early start on media coverage and kept up the pace until the goal was achieved. Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 12 on the last day at the last hour, to cheers from across the state.
AB 12 is  an intuitive piece of legislation from our point of view. For every $1 invested, California estimates  that $2.41 return in investment will be realized. Research shows that youth who receive support after age 18 are two times more likely to be working toward completion of a high school diploma, three times more likely to be enrolled in college, and much less likely to have been arrested.
Although Kinship Center is focused on permanent solutions for children and has only a small foster care program, we celebrate having helped 39 young adults who reached age 18 without a permanent family, through a Kinship Center program that solicits and manages community donations to support their post-secondary education. Of this group, 16 have graduated with baccalaureate degrees and two have gone on to graduate school programs. All of these young people have become outstanding, productive and active adults in our communities.
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