UPDATE, May 17, 2013: A year has passed since “Fostering Connections to Success” became state law. The Beall-Bass AB 12 bill aided the transition to adulthood for “timed-out” foster children by raising the age threshold from 18 to 21. So far, according to Amy Lemley, at left, policy director at the San Francisco-based John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes, 80% (4,070) of 18-year-old foster youth have made the choice to stay in foster care for those most critical years of early adulthood. To stay in foster care under AB12, the youth (barring a serious medical condition) must be doing at least one of the following: completing high school or an equivalent program; enrolling in college or voc ed; working at least 80 hours a week; or participating in a voc ed program. According to Eric-Michael Wilson, writing in the Chronicle for Social Change:
...Lemley said that many youth who choose to opt out of the program do so because it will allow them to be eligible for the CalWORKs...which gives cash aid and services ...and offers better parenting programs for youth with children....[Lemley said]...those who choose not to stay often do so out of their disillusionment [with the foster care system], though some decide to return later. “[It’s] not a perfect program, but in an era in which a lot of programs are being cut, it offers something positive for youth that are trying to do something better with themselves.”
An interview with Amy Lemley on the subject of emancipated minors (gist: it's a bad idea, unless you're a child actor) is featured today on The Daily Beast.
January 29, 2010: AB 12, "Fostering Connections to Success," the bill authored by Assemblymembers Jim Beall, Jr. (D-San Jose) and Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) passed the Assembly unanimously yesterday and was sent to the Senate Rules committee yesterday. The John Burton Foundation for Children without Homes, a San Francisco nonprofit, has funded a website for the program, California Fostering Connections to Success," to provide "timely information about the many policy and technical issues involved in the bill's design and future implementation." AB 12, as the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday in a supportive editorial,
"...would allow the state to collect from Washington half the costs of steering kids out of the child welfare system and into family guardianship, so the state would save money off the top. There is an echo benefit: Numerous studies show that children growing up with extended family have far lower incidences of teen pregnancy, homelessness, delinquency and mental health problems than those living in group homes or with foster families.
There's a second layer of direct savings as well. Youths who age out of the foster care system at 18 are often ill-equipped for independence, and the state sometimes assists them through age 21. A partial federal reimbursement is available for that transition period -- but only if the state adopts AB 12 and aligns its program with federal guidelines. The state portion comes from the savings realized from federal participation in the guardianship program. And there is a second echo benefit, as the young adults who otherwise would fall into county programs would be more likely to be able to make it on their own."