November 17, 2020 | 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.
Updated Financial Aid Guide for Foster Youth Is Now Available
JBAY has recently updated the Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth to reflect updates for the 2021/2022 FAFSA application. The Guide provides an overview of the types of aid available to help foster youth to pay for college and offers step-by-step instructions for completing the FAFSA or California Dream Act Application.
The Guide offers helpful tips along the way to maximize financial aid such as making sure to select an “off-campus” housing plan rather than “with parent” if living with a relative caregiver. The Guide closes with a description of what must take place after the FAFSA is submitted to ensure that financial aid is processed and maintained. To download the updated Guide, along with other helpful tools, click here.
Report Finds 70% Employed Youth in THP-NMD & THP-Plus Lost Job or Hours Due to COVID-19
John Burton Advocates for Youth has released a new report and accompanying webinar highlighting key findings related to the experience of current and former foster youth participating in California’s transitional housing programs. The 2019-20 THP-NMD & THP-Plus Annual Report indicates that 38% of youth who were employed at the onset of the COVID-19 State of Emergency lost their jobs and 32% experienced a reduction in hours (70% total) due to the pandemic.
The report also indicates that waiting lists for THP-NMD have increased 44% from the year prior, reaching 490 youth as of July 1, 2020. In THP-Plus, the number of youth on waiting lists was 529. At entrance to THP-NMD 23% of youth have experienced homelessness and 10% entered the program directly from homelessness or unstable housing. In THP-Plus, 33% youth had experienced homelessness prior to entry and 16% entered directly from homelessness or unstable housing. The number of youth who exited THP-Plus on an involuntary basis has decreased from 36% in FY 2016-17 to 24% in FY 2019-20.
The report also includes information about numbers of youth served by the programs statewide, educational and employment outcomes of participants, average length of stay in the programs, rate of custodial parenting, and other outcomes, utilizing demographic and outcome data from the Participant Tracking Systems and a statewide survey of the programs’ statewide.
Coalition Proposes Permanent Funding for Homelessness with 10% Youth Set-Aside
John Burton Advocates for Youth has joined the Bring California Home Coalition, a diverse coalition of homelessness advocates, local governments, nonprofits, affordable housing providers, and grassroots community organizations dedicated to reversing the cycle of homelessness in California. The Bring California Home coalition aims to establish a permanent revenue source for $2.4 billion in new annual funding to prevent and reduce homelessness in California and would dedicate 10% of this funding to addressing homelessness among youth. To learn more about the impact of a youth set-aside in previous state funding for homelessness, read JBAY’s March 2020 report.
Over 151,000 Californians are homeless on any given night. Between 2014 and 2019, on average, 10% of homeless individuals in California were unaccompanied youth. In 2018, just 3% of federally funded homelessness beds in California were used for unaccompanied homeless youth. Covid-19 has exacerbated the risks faced by youth experiencing homelessness who require developmentally appropriate responses for prevention and reduction of youth homelessness. Learn more about the plan and sign up to join the fight to house every Californian here.
Thirty Child Welfare Advocates Demand that LAUSD Support Special Education Youth
On November 5, 2020, The Alliance for Children’s Rights, joined by 29 child welfare partners, including John Burton Advocates for Youth, sent a letter to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD), demanding detailed information about how the District plans to redress the disproportionate learning loss of students with special needs and disabilities during COVID-19. Specifically, the letter demands that the District outline its plan for delivering in-person assessments, individualized educational programs services (IEPs), and instruction in small cohorts, in compliance with the law and public health guidelines.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the over 80,000 students with special needs and disabilities have been disproportionately affected. The letter charges that LAUSD has failed to properly assess students for special education and provide appropriate supports and services to existing special education students. For tens of thousands of students, individualized educational programs (IEPs) are not being developed or executed properly through small in-person cohorts. Despite public health officials approving this support over 60 days ago and state and federal law requirements, LAUSD has thus far failed to provide these tailored services to students. Read the press release here and the Alliance for Children’s Rights’ comments to the LAUSD Board here.
Webinar Series to Explore Strategies for Supporting Young People Exiting Foster Care
The Urban Institute, a nonprofit economic and social policy research organization, is hosting a series of webinars examining the effectiveness of programs designed to help young people transitioning out of foster care find stable employment and pursue higher education. The first webinar in the series will be held on Thursday, November 19from 10:00-11:00 AM PT and will focus on the results of an evaluation of the Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program in ten states, including characteristics of young people who receive ETVs, how and where ETVs are used, and educational outcomes. To register for the webinar, click here.
Two additional webinars in the series will explore the efficacy of employment programs for young people transitioning out of foster care. The webinars will be held in early 2021 with exact dates still to be determined. To learn more about the webinar series, including future dates, click here.
State Guidance Clarifies Rights of Parenting Foster Youth to Consult with Legal Counsel
The California Department of Social Services has issued All County Letter 20-119 which clarifies the right of parenting minors, nonminor dependents (NMDs), and wards of the juvenile court to consult with legal counsel prior to entering into a program of supervision or any voluntary temporary or permanent custody agreement regarding their children. The letter also clarifies the expansion of protections to parenting wards that were formerly available only to parenting dependent children.
These rights are related to the passage of AB 1371 (Stone), sponsored by Children’s Law Center. The legislation requires that parenting foster youth and wards have an opportunity to consult with an attorney prior to relinquishing custody of their children in order to ensure that parenting youth have a full understanding of the terms and implications of a custody agreement.
The ACL asserts that by giving the opportunity to confer with counsel prior to any formal or informal custody arrangements being made for their minor child, all dependents and wards are now afforded due process rights and given a voice in the decisions that affect them and their child.