Monday, September 29, 2014

Foster Care - California Foster Teens Poised to Get Transitional Housing Relief

Foster care statistics reveal that "when foster children turn 18 and leave the state's foster care system, they do so with little more than a bag of clothes. Only 3 percent go on to college."

This reality for thousands of foster kids is nothing short of a crisis. State and local governments and foster care agencies across the country are working to find solutions. An uneducated work force is both bad for individuals as well as a financial hardship on the economy and taxpayers. Fortunately, California Senate Bill 1252 is set to bring much needed support to thousands of teens who have left the foster care system.

Senate Bill 1252 will fund an extra year of transitional living for foster teens who have aged out of the system. How critical is housing for these kids? One of the key reasons that foster kids don't continue their formal education at a college or university is that they lack a safe place to live. Most of these teens simply don't have an income source to afford rent or weren't able to secure a scholarship.

The creative minds behind California Senate Bill 1252 are two college students. Yes, once again it's our youth and not government bureaucrats who have served up a solution to help former foster children.

One of the co-founders of the organization, Foster Youth Investment Coalition, that is spearheading the effort to put this bill on the governor's desk is Sade Burrell, former foster child and presently a graduate student at the University of Southern California. Concerning the challenges of getting a college education, Burrell explains:

"Being able to study in a library or at home, having those late nights, I didn't really have a home setting to go to. That was a huge hurdle for me, so that's why I'm involved with this."

Lauro Cons, a graduate student at the University of San Diego is the other co-founder. The idea originated with a research project Cons did as an undergrad. He noted:

"We conducted extensive cross sectional research on 'foster youth' and 'housing support,'" Cons said in an email. "And found that the lack of housing assistance for foster youth, after aging out of the system, has a direct negative impact on their ability to continue with their education."

The bill is sitting on the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. Although he had a busy few days signing many other bills, as of Sept. 28, 2014, this one is still awaiting his signature. We hope he signs this bill into law because it's clear that former foster youth do and will continue to struggle to continue their education.
Not signing this bill would be another painful punch to foster kids who need and deserve our help. As a society we must do right by these children.


Richard Villasana

Richard Villasana
Find Families In Mexico

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Senate Bill 1252 helping foster youth with college.

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