National Center for Youth Law

Press Releases

Governor Brown Signs Bill Expanding Support for Students in Foster Care

October 13, 2015

Contact: Lewis Cohen (510) 835-8098

SACRAMENTO – Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will improve support for students in foster care. AB 854, authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber (D-San Diego), uses the expertise and experience of the Foster Youth Services Program (FYS) to ensure the state’s new educational funding formula fulfills its promise to children in foster care.

“The Foster Youth Services program has a track record of success in lifting the educational achievement of students in foster care,” said Dr. Weber. “These students will benefit from increased levels of supports and services by aligning FYS with the Local Control Funding Formula.”

The Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) is a groundbreaking law that changed the way education is funded. LCFF increases local flexibility in spending education dollars while increasing accountability, particularly for improving the education outcomes of designated student sub-groups, including for the first time, students in foster care.

Students in foster care are one of the most vulnerable and academically underserved student groups in California schools. A recent statewide study found that foster youth had the lowest graduation rate and highest dropout rate of any student group in the state.

FosterEd Director Michelle Francois Triaman says, “Without educational success, foster youth are ill-equipped to succeed and thrive in their future endeavors. The cost to these children and society is extraordinary.” FosterEd, an initiative of the National Center for Youth Law was a sponsor of AB 854.

AB 854 expands the definition of foster youth under the FYS program to conform to the broader definition used under LCFF, making thousands of additional children eligible for the program. “No child in foster care should be denied education services simply because he or she lives with relatives or other family members. Failing to serve these children has negatively impacted our Latino and African-American children in care,” said Melissa San Miguel, Policy Manager for FosterEd: California, who spearheaded NCYL’s effort to pass the bill. “With the passage of AB 854, all students in foster care across California will be eligible for locally coordinated education services and supports that will help them to reach their college and career dreams.”

The FYS program is uniquely situated to support interagency collaboration and capacity building, both at the system and individual student level. AB 854 will enable FYS Coordinators to improve coordination among the various state agencies supporting foster children. According to FosterEd California Director Jackie Wong, “FYS Coordinators can support school districts’ successful implementation of LCFF for foster youth by leveraging their knowledge of foster youth issues, their expertise in navigating the education and child welfare worlds, and their experience working with the various county and local stakeholders that are active in a foster youth’s life.”

The legislation releases the $25 million for the FYS program in the state budget, adopted in June. This constitutes a $10 million budget increase that extends FYS support to the nearly two-thirds of the state’s foster children who were previously ineligible for the program.