UPDATE: KQED's Michael Krasny interviewed Karen Bass, Sam Cobbs (First Place for Youth), Amy Lemley (John Burton Foundation) and former foster youth about this legislation.
At the end of February, Joe Costa participated in CWLA’s Advocacy Day in Washington D.C. CWLA Board Members, including Joe, spoke with representatives from Nancy Pelosi’s office and the offices of Senators Boxer and Feinstein, urging them to help the administration hold a Conference on Youth in 2010: if held, it would be the first such conference since 1970. The CWLA advocates also talked with Congress people about the federal Fostering Connections legislation and the economic stimulus package. This advocacy work on behalf of children makes a big difference: in the past, members of Congress have co-sponsored crucial legislation as a result of our visits. After CWLA's 2007 conference, Congress introduced legislation that addressed youth aging out of the foster care system. In 2004, the CWLA helped congress with the introduction of monumental kinship legislation.
California’s AB 12
Reasons To Support AB 12
Through our range of programs in our BAYC division we have witnessed the huge impact we can have on youth who “age out” of the system when they turn 18 and are no longer eligible for foster care. There are over 4,000 of these children aging out each year in California alone; without the support of a family, these youth do not fare well as typical young adults. They are far more likely to experience homelessness, unemployment, criminal justice involvement and low educational attainment – AB 12 helps by expanding support for foster youth to age 21.
Sunny Hills Services also offers programs to support kinship caregivers through our Sonoma Kinship Family Center in Santa Rosa. Relatives who take legal guardianship of children who would otherwise be in foster care receive critical support through our center, similar to the types of support that are provided to foster parents but including additional services such as respite care, guardianship clinics, and other support programs designed specifically for kinship caregivers. If passed, AB 12 will help programs like the Sonoma Kinship Family Center continue to operate while allowing them to utilize federal dollars that they have not had access to before.