Cailfornia Governor Signs National Center for Youth Law Bill To Help Foster Youth Leaving Care
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2005
Angie Schwartz (510) 835-8098
Curt Child (916) 444-2290
National Center for Youth Law
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today signed legislation sponsored by the National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) that provides much needed support to youth transitioning out of foster care. Specifically, AB 1633 will help foster youth complete their high school education, as well as increase their access to public benefits.
The legislation, co-sponsored by the California Youth Connection and authored by Assembly Member Noreen Evans, enables foster youth to remain in care after age 18 if they are pursuing their GED. Currently, foster youth are permitted to remain in care only if they are attending high school or vocational training full-time.
In addition, the bill assists foster children in securing disability benefits. Many children who enter foster care suffer not only from abuse and neglect, but also from serious physical and mental disabilities. In many cases, the child’s disability qualifies them for additional assistance through social security and /or Supplemental Security Income. However, many children are not getting the assistance they are entitled to. In recent years, only 3 percent of California’s 85,000 foster children received these benefits.
“AB 1633 focuses on those youth who have the greatest challenge at emancipation,” said Angie Schwartz, a Skadden fellow at NCYL. “This bill will help ensure these disabled youth will leave foster care with federal disability benefits so they are not left to suffer the indignities of life on the street, which happens all to often.”
California has the largest foster care population in the country. Nearly one third are homeless within a year after leaving the foster care system. More than 50 percent are unemployed within two to four years of emancipation. More than 40 percent are on public assistance. One in five will be incarcerated.
On September 15, foster youth presented the Governor with 300 signed postcards urging the Governor’s signature on AB 1633.
“We are pleased the Governor recognized the needs of these vulnerable youth who are leaving foster care,” said NCYL Senior Attorney Curt Child.