A problem CYC members are addressing throughout the state is that many young people transitioning in and out of extended foster care, also known as AB12, are not having A Place to Call Home. CYC members express that youth are facing illegal evictions, also known as “involuntary exits,” from Transitional Housing Programs-Plus, suffering high rates of homelessness, and see a lack of available housing options within AB12. With the leadership of CYC Legislative and Policy Fellows, Assemblymember Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) will introduce legislation that will take a comprehensive review to identify and close the gaps that exist within extended foster care for youth who are experiencing homelessness. CYC’s legislative priority for the year has three components:
- Data Collection– Collecting the educational, housing, sibling connections, and lifelong connections status for young adults and probation supervised youth in extended foster care to ensure that the unique needs are being met.
- Specialized Training– Require the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) to convene a workgroup to create curricula for child welfare and provider professionals who work with emerging adults in extended foster care. Curricula should ensure that all of the existing system tools/requirements in extended foster care are functioning with a youth-centered and in the best interest of each young person. This includes Shared Living Agreements and 90-Day transition plans.
- Department Collaboration– Create department collaboration between CDSS and the California Department of Housing and Community Development (CDHCD) to disseminate housing vouchers available for former foster youth that qualify for this resource.
CYC will cosponsor three legislative proposals that will contribute to changing to a culture that honors and nourishes the mind, body, and soul of every young person impacted by the systems. In align with the #FosterStability Campaign, these are the bills:
- AB 1858 (Luz Rivas)- California Youth Empowerment Act: This bill would establish the first statewide advisory body to the government comprised solely of youth. The commission’s mission is to empower underrepresented youth with formal opportunities to engage in California’s civic process. Ultimately, the commission will have three interconnected goals with focuses on civic engagement, education, social equity, human and social services, workforce development, and public safety. Watch Natasha Sosa, CYC Legislative Fellow, press release video. Jose Canizal, CYC Policy Fellow, was part of the effort of establishing the first youth commission in Los Angeles County!
- AB 1944 (Quirk-Silva)- Educational Stability At The Time Of Placement: This bill will enhance educational outcomes and promote educational stability by ensuring that foster youth and children who qualify for school transportation reimbursement receive the support at the time of placement even if the caregiver has not completed the resource family approval Process. CYC Members Amadahy, Genesis, Katrina, Jose, and Tony were featured on EdSource to discuss the importance of California to provide school stability for foster youth.
- SB 958 (Leyva)- Improve College Outcomes: This bill will change existing statute that: (1) will expand the eligibility criteria for NextUp programs in community colleges to allow students in foster care at or after the age of 13 to participate and to align priority registration similarly, (2) create flexibility around income requirements for current and former foster youth to participate in the program, (3) clarify that programs should create streamlined systems for application and entry, and (4) specify that existing funds can be used to provide support to enrolled students as they are enrolled at their city college. Christina Torrez, CYC Legislative Fellow, was featured in The Chronicles of Social Change to discuss the importance of foster youth to receive support to succeed in college.
Local policy engagement has always been at the heart of CYC’s work. Indeed, our statewide policy agenda and advocacy work arises from our members’ experience and organizing in their own counties. With much of California’s child welfare decision-making now in the hands of the 58 counties, our statewide network of county-based chapters must increasingly advocate with their local departments, boards, and communities while also working to change statewide policy.
Each chapter determines their own leadership structure, with members facilitating all chapter meetings, and working within their own communities to identify challenges facing foster youth in their county. They then meet with their local policymakers and child welfare leaders to propose policy solutions.
Local volunteer supporters and CYC staff provide key assistance to our members while upholding our youth leadership principles. Prepared through youth-led training in public speaking and advocacy, members engage directly with their own communities to improve local child welfare practice, and inform foster youth of their rights and resources.
As a Result of Our Legislative & Policy Advocacy in California:
- The Foster Youth Bill of Rights, developed by CYC, is written into law.
- Foster youth have the option to remain in care up to age 21.
- Foster youth are covered by MediCal up to age 21.
- Foster youth ages 16–24 have access to transitional housing.
- Foster youth have priority in securing student housing on college campuses.
- The process of applying for a driver’s license is more equitable for foster youth.
- Judges ensure that foster youth aging out of care have all of their documents in their possession, including birth certificates and social security cards, by utilizing a checklist.
- Foster youth can contact the state foster care ombudsperson when they have concerns about their rights.
- Youth in foster care have the right to visit their siblings.
- More foster youth are prepared for college, with increased financial resources to attend.
CYC released a statement on July 8, 2018, on the Children Separation Crisis.