March 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.
Support Needed to Expand Access to Food and Housing for College Students
Basic needs insecurity among college students has reached crisis proportions and fuels inequity across student populations. Assembly Bill 775 (Berman) would provide a coordinated and integrated approach to address students’ basic needs by establishing a basic needs center and basic needs coordinator at each California Community College.
The bill would additionally ensure that students could easily gain access to these services by requiring colleges to develop an outreach plan, make available a document that clearly lists all on- and off-campus basic needs services, and post information about available support on the campus website.
Ting Proposal to Reduce Homelessness Among Foster Youth Clears First Committee
Assembly Bill 413 (Ting), which would prevent and reduce homelessness among current and former foster youth has passed unanimously out of the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development and will next be heard by the Assembly Human Services Committee. Because the bill was amended by the last committee, new support letters are required. To support AB 413, please submit a letter using this template to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nearly one in five youth experience homelessness while in foster care as non-minors, and 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 over 1,200 former foster 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 two key programs permanent: The Housing Navigators Program which serves youth age 18 to 21 and prioritizes current foster youth; and 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 email email@example.com.
Rental Assistance Funds Now Available to Tenants Owing Back Rent
Last week, California launched a statewide program to assist both tenants and landlords who have been impacted by the pandemic.
Tenants who have experienced a financial hardship due to COVID‐19, have past due rent or utilities, and have a household income that is not more than 80% of the area median income, may be eligible to receive help to pay past due or future rent and utilities from the state of California.
Landlords can receive 80 percent of the rent arrears owed by tenants if they are willing to forgive the remaining 20 percent of the debt. In order to receive funding, the application must be submitted by the landlord and include documentation regarding their ownership status, evidence of a rental arrangement and documentation of the rent amount owed.
If a tenant’s landlord is unwilling to participate in the program, the tenant can still receive 25 percent of the back due rent. State law provides that tenants who pay 25 percent of unpaid rent that was accrued between April 1, 2020, and March 31, 2021 cannot be evicted after the state’s eviction moratorium expires on June 30, 2021.
Tenants will be asked to provide identification, income verification, verification of residence address and verification that rent is owed. Tenants may also apply for past-due utilities. For more information or to apply for funds, visit HousingIsKey.com or attend a web seminar to be held tomorrow and Friday.
New Report Recommends States Provide Home Visitation to Pregnant & Parenting Foster Youth
Chapin Hall has released a research brief recommending that states provide home visiting services to pregnant and parenting foster youth, as part of their Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) plan. The brief summarizes lessons learned from the evaluation of a 29-month pilot project linking pregnant and parenting youth in foster care with home visiting services, which included over 1,000 home visits.
FFPSA makes federal funding available for certain types of prevention services, including those serving families whose children are at risk for foster care placement. With this federal policy change comes potential to increase access to home visitation for child welfare-involved families and pregnant and parenting youth in foster care. Home visitation has been shown to significantly reduce child abuse, improve parental functioning, and enhance child development.
The brief includes eight findings, each with a corresponding recommendation, including the importance of services being voluntary, the importance of training home visitation professionals on the child welfare system, the need to adapt home visitation programs to the specific needs of parents in foster care.
Other recommendations include the consideration of smaller caseloads for home visitors working with child welfare-involved families; clear policies on information sharing; flexibility in how home visitation programs serve child welfare system-involved families; and a robust Continuous Quality Improvement process. For more information, click here.
Four Days Remaining to Complete JBAY Youth Survey on Impact of Pandemic
There are just four days left until JBAY closes its youth survey on how COVID-19 has affected youth (18-24) who have been in the foster care system and/or experienced homelessness. We’re off to a strong start, but we need your help!
JBAY will use the survey findings to advocate for resources to assist and protect youth who have been in foster care or experienced homelessness. This includes advocating to increase state investment in housing, address hunger and housing insecurity on college campuses and better support young parents in foster care.
The survey takes five minutes and is 100% anonymous. All youth and young adults who complete the survey and enter their email at the end of the survey are eligible to be entered for a raffle and win 1 of 10, $50 gift cards.
Additionally, up to 10 youth or young adults can participate in an optional, 30-minute interview over zoom and receive a $25 stipend for their time. Our goal is to understand and use these interviews to convey a story when we advocate for youth. If you have any questions please, contact Ryan Kwong at firstname.lastname@example.org. To take the survey, please click here.
Bill to Expand On-Campus Support for Foster Youth Advances with Unanimous Support
Senate Bill 228, authored by Senator Connie M. Leyva (D-Chino), passed the Senate Committee on Education with unanimous support. Sponsored by John Burton Advocates for Youth and California Youth Connection, SB 228 would remove barriers facing current and former foster youth attending community college by expanding the eligibility for participation in NextUp, a specialized campus-based program that provides one-on-one support and assistance with material needs, including transportation, tutoring, emergency housing, and supplies.
Currently, NextUp is only available to students who were in foster care after the age of 16. SB 228 would lower the age of eligibility to 13, enabling more students to access much-needed resources. It would also similarly align eligibility for priority registration and create more flexibility around income requirements for students transitioning from full-time employment to school. Other proposed changes include specifying that existing funds can be used to provide support to enrolled students as they are matriculating and clarifying that programs should create streamlined systems for application and entry.
The bill will be heard by the Committee on Human Services on March 23. For more information on SB 228 or to submit a letter of support, click here.
New Brief Shows How Customized Services Increase Education & Employment Outcomes
First Place for Youth has released a new policy briefrevealing that when youth are properly supported with a combination of extended care alongside customized services and support, their likelihood of achieving 80% or more of the living wage standard increases from 20% to 80%.
The brief shows how data science can be used to individualize extended foster care services and achieve more equitable education and employment outcomes. Using precision analytics tools researchers identified eight critical goals and services that support youth in extended foster care’s access to and achievement in education and employment such that they may earn a living wage.
Researchers investigated high-impact goals including career progress, household maintenance, relationship stability, public assistance, mental well-being, employment preparation, and self-efficacy and long-term goal setting. They also investigated key services that could improve the likelihood of youth earning a living wage including length of stay, engagement with case managers and employment specialists, setting goals for household management and prioritizing parenting goals for young parents.
To learn more about the findings and recommendations, sign up for the webinar series here.
JBAY Releases New Resources to Keep Foster Youth on Track to College During the Pandemic With both college and financial aid applications in decline, there is growing concern that high school students from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are postponing or altogether canceling their plans to attend postsecondary institutions during the Fall of 2021. This is particularly disconcerting when considering the research on foster youth students, which indicates that those who delay enrollment in community college for one year or more after leaving high school are 40 percent less likely to persist through graduation.
In response to these concerns, JBAY has developed two new resources to assist adult supporters in encouraging foster youth college enrollment and FAFSA completion amid the pandemic. The first resource, Conversation Starters and Motivational Responses, includes examples of prompts and answers to address common concerns of students in foster care.
The second resource, After the FAFSA Checklist, provides a straightforward list of the activities students should complete once they’ve submitted their FAFSA to maximize their financial aid and access campus support programs. To view or download additional FAFSA resources and tools, click here.