February 23, 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.
Submit a Support Letter to Secure Permanent Funding to Address Foster Youth Homelessness
Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) has introduced Assembly Bill 413 to prevent and reduce homelessness among current and former foster youth. To submit a support letter for the bill which is first being heard in the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development, use this template and e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearly one in five youth experience homelessness while in foster care as non-minors, and 72% of counties have no housing navigation services available to foster youth as they prepare to transition out of care. One in four former foster youth experience homelessness between age 21 and 23. A July 2020 survey found that statewide, a total of 539 youth were on a waiting list for the state’s THP-Plus program which provides up to 24 months of affordable housing and supportive services to former foster and probation youth age 18 to 24. Demand is greatest in the state’s high-cost counties, where there is insufficient supply of this effective program which serves over 1,200 youth on any given night, along with over 300 of their children.
AB 413 would establish training for child welfare workers and probation officers on housing and the homelessness response system. The bill would also make $5 million annually available for the Housing Navigators Program which serves youth age 18 to 21 and prioritizes current foster youth; and $8 million annually available for the Transitional Housing Program which serves youth age 18 to 24 and prioritizes former foster and probation youth. Lastly, AB 413 would establish a housing supplement for the THP-Plus program in counties with the highest rental costs. Learn more about the bill here or contact Simone Tureck Lee.
New Report to Highlight Impact of Youth Set Aside; Webinar on March 17
Please join John Burton Advocates for Youth on Wednesday, March 17 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. for a web seminar marking the release of a report on the status of youth in California’s 2020 rollout of funding for homelessness. The report analyzes implementation of two programs to address homelessness—one with a specified youth set-aside which resulted in 10% of funding being directed to youth, and one without a youth set-aside which resulted in 0.5% of funding being directed to youth.
The report draws on information gathered from Continuums of Care, cities and counties about their expenditures on youth with funding from round one of the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program, which requires that local jurisdictions dedicate at least eight percent of their HHAP allocation on youth. Statewide, jurisdictions invested 10% of the $650 million allocated in addressing youth homelessness.
The webinar will also feature the report’s findings about Homekey, the state’s COVID-19 response mechanism for addressing homelessness. Circumstances related to the pandemic required Homekey funds to be rapidly distributed, making it most expedient to award the funds to jurisdictions that applied and were prepared to quickly utilize the funds. This strategy did not include a youth set-aside and resulted in 0.5% of Homekey funding being awarded for projects serving youth—two projects out of 87.
To read a memo on the status of youth in Homekey spending, previewing contents from this section of the forthcoming report, follow this link. To register for the web seminar, follow this link or download the flyer.
Relief Payments Coming Soon to Californians, including Transition-Age Youth
Transition-age youth across California stand to benefit from the newly approved $600 pandemic relief payment to be issued by the State of California. Payments will be provided to individuals who earned less than $30,000 who qualify for the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC). Direct relief will also be provided by mid-April to Californians receiving CalWORKS, SSI/SSP and Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants.
In 2019, California expanded access to the CalEITC for transition-age youth, age 18 to 24 who were not custodial parents. Prior to that date, individuals 18 to 24 who were not custodial parents were not eligible for the CalEITC. Since then, John Burton Advocates for Youth has worked to expand access to this important benefit, which has included developing a tax check list, a publication, and a social medial toolkit and hosting a recent web seminar with the California Franchise Tax Board.
In addition to the $600 relief payment, the state package includes $100 million in emergency financial aid for qualifying students and $20 million for community colleges to reengage students who have left or are at risk of leaving due to the pandemic. To address student hunger, the University of California, California State University and California Community College will receive $6 million for CalFresh outreach and application assistance and counties will receive $12 million for administrative workload. For a summary of items included in the package, follow this link.
New Toolkit Released to Expand Access to Mental Health Services for Foster Youth in College
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. 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 replicate these best-practices. Within the Toolkit is a step-by-step guide on how to implement this co-located mental health service model and develop an enhanced referral process to serve students with involvement in the foster care system and other vulnerable student groups. Additionally, this new toolkit includes a robust appendix with templates such as a sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), referral form, and student survey. The Toolkit and corresponding webinar can be accessed here.
New Template Available to Make FYI Application Easier; Due 3/22
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has released a new template for the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Public Child Welfare Agencies and Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) partnering to administer Foster Youth to Independence (FYI) vouchers. This MOU is intended to aid PHAs responding to the Notice of Available Funding (NOFA) for FYI Competitive funding, due March 22.
As described in more detail in JBAY’s last newsletter, FYI vouchers are administered by PHAs, coupled with supportive services provided by child welfare to former foster youth age 18 to 24. Applicants eligible to respond to the NOFA are PHAs who currently administer Housing Choice Vouchers. Funding of $20 million is available through the NOFA, which will result in approximately 40 awards nationwide. No award will be less than three vouchers, and the maximum award will be based upon the size of the PHA and identified need, not to exceed 75 vouchers.
To identify local PHAs and ensure they’re aware of this opportunity, refer to this roster developed by John Burton Advocates for Youth. For more information about FYI Competitive in addition to Non-Competitive FYI vouchers which are available “on demand” as eligible youth are identified, follow this link.
Webinar to Highlight How the CA Foster Youth AmeriCorps Initiative Helps Foster Youth
On March 4, 2021 from 2:00- 3:15pm, John Burton Advocates for Youth will be hosting a webinar featuring partner agencies and service mentors with the CA Foster Youth AmeriCorps Initiative. This program provides an opportunity for community-based organizations, colleges, Independent Living Programs, County Offices of Education and others to expand their capacity to support foster youth; provide career opportunities for young adults with experience in the foster care system; and incorporate the voice of those with lived experience more explicitly into their programming.
Participants will learn how they can leverage the close to $1 million that has been set aside for this initiative to help their agency to build a stronger continuum of care toward academic and career pathways for foster youth as they transition into adulthood. Register here to attend the webinar.
Calling all FFAs, STRTPs & THPs: Participate in the Youth Provider Vacancy Database
In partnership with the California Department of Social Services, the Catalyst Center, a program of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, is collecting vacancy information from Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs), Foster Family Agencies (FFAs), and Transitional Housing Placement (THP) providers for minors and non-minor dependents throughout California.
Weekly emails are sent to providers who fill out vacancy forms detailing any openings in their program. Vacancy information is then used to provide placement referrals to state and county officials who work to match youth to programs and services most appropriate for their needs. Learn more about the forms used by providers and the service here.
The Catalyst Center also operates a California Provider Helpline that offers free specialized technical assistance and resource navigation for STRTPs, residential care programs, and FFAs. The line is open weekdays from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at 833-999-6884 or by email at email@example.com. Some examples of assistance include review of the training and hours needed for new hires, finding housing and mental health care for minors and nonminor dependents, Covid-19 health and safety guidelines and waivers, and more.
Foster Youth Alumni Policy Recommendations Highlight Need for Educational Supports
Each year, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), a nonprofit, bipartisan organization focused on educating Congress and other policymakers on issues affecting children in need of permanent, safe, and loving families, hosts a cohort of former foster youth from around the country as part of its Foster Youth Internship (FYI) Program. The interns work closely with members of Congress and national child welfare experts to research issues affecting youth in foster care and create a policy report with recommendations for legislative improvements. The 2020 FYI Program participants focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, covering a vast range of topics including postsecondary education, technology support, and pregnant and parenting youth.
Of note, the policy report recommends amending Title VII of the Higher Education Act (HEA) to award formula grants to all states to provide housing, mental health, social and academic supports to current and former foster youth and homeless students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees. Similarly, FYI Program participants proposed creating a new grant program to ensure that K-12 and postsecondary students in foster care have access to equitable virtual learning opportunities and the technology resources they need to succeed during the pandemic and beyond.
The report also highlights strategies to better support pregnant and parenting youth, underscoring the efficacy of home visiting and nurse practitioner programs and the potential to expand funding through the Chafee or Title IV-B program to provide basic needs to pregnant and parenting youth, including diapers, formula, childcare, and parenting support services. To read the full report, click here.