January 12, 2021 | UPDATE FROM JOHN BURTON ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH
John Burton Advocates for Youth improves the quality of life for youth in California who have been in foster care or homeless by advocating for better laws, training communities to strengthen local practices and conducting research to inform policy solutions.
Governor Proposes $6,000 Cal Grant Access Award for Foster Youth
Last Friday, Governor Newsom released his proposed budget for FY 21-22. Overall, the budget included $164 billion in proposed General Fund spending, up from $155.8 billion in FY 20-21.
The budget included important developments for youth in foster care. Most notably, the Governor proposed a $20 million ongoing investment in higher education to provide a $6,000 Cal Grant Access award to all foster youth, including those attending community college who currently receive $1,648.
Another significant proposal is the provision of assistance payments to youth who turn 21 years of age while in extended foster care after April 17, 2020, through December 31, 2021. Currently, assistance payments for youth who turned 21 will end on June 30, 2021.
Other important developments include a temporary extension of child welfare programs that were scheduled to be suspended on December 31, 2021. These include the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, a Foster Family Agency rate increase, the Child Welfare Public Health Nursing Early Intervention Program, the Family Urgent Response System and the Transitional Housing Program, which provides $8 million annually to address youth homelessness with a priority on former foster youth.
A total of $5.2 million was included to facilitate the return to California of foster youth placed out of the state and pandemic related relief related to actions taken in last year’s budget, including $43.2 million for COVID-19 pandemic support for foster youth and their caregivers. For more information, read the full budget summary and refer to the Health and Human Services budget summary that provides a greater level of detail.
The Final Wave: CalYOUTH Study Finds One in Four Youth Homeless Between 21 & 23
Chapin Hall has released the findings from the fourth and final wave of the CalYOUTH Study, which examines California’s implementation of extended foster care through interviews with youth participants at age 17, 19, 21 and 23. The new publication documents how study participants are faring at age 23, when they have all been out of foster care for at least two years. This article highlights findings related to housing and homelessness.
Among all CalYOUTH participants, more than one quarter (25.4%) reported being homeless for at least one night since their interview at age 21. Among youth who had been homeless since their last interview, nearly one third (32.7%) had only been homeless one time, while just over one quarter (25.9%) had been homeless five times or more. African American youth (37.8%) were significantly more likely than Hispanic youth (17.8%) to report having ever been homeless since their last interview. Youth who had been in foster care past their 18th birthday were asked about whether they had ever experienced homelessness while they were in extended care, and 17.5% reported that they had.
The most common place youth were living was their own place or own room, including hotels (53.5%); followed by the home of another relative (11.4%), birth parent’s home (8.7%), and spouse/partner’s home (8.2%). African American youth (52.5%) were about twice as likely as white youth (26.7%) to have lived on their own room in a motel, hotel or SRO since their last interview, and more likely than white youth to have lived in a transitional housing program (32.4% vs. 11.7%). Read the full report here.
To learn more and hear Professor Mark Courtney speak in further detail on this subject, please register for our webinar on January 29 from 10:00-11:00 AM by clicking here.
New Report Spotlights Impact of COVID-19 on Families of Color
A new report by the Annie E. Casey Foundation examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and families reveals that 20 percent of California’s families cannot pay their rent or mortgage on time, 12 percent do not have health insurance, 15 percent do not have enough food to eat, and nearly 25 percent of parents are struggling with symptoms of depression. The data also points to alarming disparities for families of color, with nearly 31 percent of African American and 26 percent of Latino families indicating they were on the verge of failing to pay their rent or mortgage compared to 12 percent of Caucasian households.
The report highlights several policy responses to create equitable solutions for families to get through the crisis, including shielding school funding from the economic effects of the pandemic to the greatest extent possible and expanding the federal Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit to provide additional resources to families. The Annie E. Casey Foundation praised Governor Newsom for addressing racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 recovery plans, notably the decision to require counties to “ensure that the test positivity rates in [lower resourced neighborhoods]…do not significantly lag behind its overall county positivity rate.” To read the report’s full findings and recommendations, click here.
New Report Highlights Need for Better Data Systems to Support K-12 Foster Youth
A new report from Educational Results Partnership, Sharpening the View: Improving Foster Youth Data to Boost Educational Outcomes, found that barriers to access to accurate and timely data by K-12 practitioners hinders their ability to adequately support foster youth. The study, which relied on surveys and interviews with foster youth liaisons at both the district and county level, reports that while recent policy changes have helped, more is needed to ensure practitioners can accurately identify foster youth and use data to improve outcomes. The challenges most frequently cited include concerns about data quality (48%), conflicting foster youth definitions (46%), data lag (35%) and inaccurate foster youth identification (30%).
A key recommendation that emerged from the research was to standardize how foster youth are defined for the various benefits available to them. In particular, students in a voluntary placement, unaccompanied refugee minors and foster students under the placement of an Indian tribe have inconsistent access to benefits, creating confusion and denying access to resources to certain subgroups of foster youth. In addition, greater access to training was cited as needed. While the California Department of Education offers training, more liaisons need to connect with these opportunities in order to better understand how to use the data to inform their work. A webinar that reviewed the report findings can be viewed here.
Webinar to Debut Toolkit on Connecting Foster Youth in College to Mental Health Services
While students who have experienced foster care have higher rates of mental health challenges, these students often have difficulty accessing mental health services due to a variety of systemic barriers. These barriers also contribute to higher unmet mental health needs among students from other traditionally underserved groups. From 2018 to 2020, JBAY and the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health (LACDMH) led a multi-year effort with 11 community colleges to link Medi-Cal-eligible students, as well as students with no insurance, to mental health services in the community by leveraging existing funding and developing new systems to co-locate services on campus.
The new Toolkit documents these efforts so that California Community College support program staff, campus health center or mental health staff, county mental health agencies, and local providers can implement these practices.
In this webinar, the Chancellor’s Office, JBAY, LACDMH, Rio Hondo College, and College of the Canyons will present an overview of the Toolkit framework. They will share how the practices identified in the Toolkit can be replicated to serve students with involvement in the foster care system, and other vulnerable student groups. To register for the webinar, click here.
2/9 Webinar to Help CalEITC Expansion Reach the Pockets of Transition-Age Foster Youth
Did you know most transition-age current and former foster youth with employment earnings, including those who are undocumented, are newly eligible for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC), a cash-back tax credit that puts money back into the pockets of California’s working families and individuals? Did you know that parents with a child age 0-6 also may qualify for the federal Child Tax Credit and California Young Child Tax Credit, which can provide thousands of dollars back to parenting transition-age youth (TAY)?
In the 2019-2020 state budget, the CalEITC was expanded from $400 million to $1 billion. More than 600,000 TAY in California are expected to qualify for the CalEITC this upcoming tax season. Filing taxes also helps TAY receive their stimulus checks and with completing their FAFSA.
John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) invites you to partner with us in 2021 to support TAY with filing taxes and claiming the expanded CalEITC. Child welfare, probation, education, housing partners and volunteers can support TAY with learning about the credits and how to prepare tax documents and personal information, help schedule free tax preparation appointments and more.
JBAY is hosting a webinar on Tuesday, February 9, 2021 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. to familiarize attendees with the updated CalEITC Guide for TAY, the Tax Prep Checklist for TAY, and the free tax services available this year with options for remote assistance. Register here.