AB12: Does it Reallllly Work?

By no means has anyone credited AB12 to be the “end all, be all” for emancipating foster youth, but I will say it has served as an alleviation to thousands of youth.

AB12 is a policy in which newly emancipated foster youth in California receive monetary funding for a period after emancipation. Though there isn’t enough empirical data yet to definitively label the policy a through-and-through success, and arguments exist regarding the “dependency effect” it may have on youth, what can be said is this: “It’s better than nothing.”

If there is an argument to be made about whether the policy is yielding solid long-term benefits, I would suggest simply looking at the emancipation process of youth who didn’t have AB12. Here are a few statistics for emancipating foster youth: 50 percent of former foster youth will be homeless during their first two years after exiting foster care, 60 percent of girls become pregnant within a few years after leaving the foster care system, 50 percent of youth leaving foster care are unemployed, and lastly, of all emancipating foster youth, only 3 percent will graduate college.

Having emancipated in 2009, I fall into the unlucky group that missed the implementation of AB12, and have personally been homeless, with no support from parents as I couch-surfed my first year through college. Luckily for me, I was able to stay in touch with Beyond Emancipation (B:E) in Alameda County.

Chance Tarver
Youth Voice Correspondent Chance Tarver with his family.

Through B:E, I was able to gain financial support for nearly every need. I was given food vouchers, book money, transportation funds, a life counselor in the form of a case worker, and even housing options. This assistance allowed me to successfully make my way through college and graduate from UC Berkeley with multiple degrees.

Though I was able to take advantage of these opportunities, as the statistics above illustrate, this is rare for someone in my demographic. In fact, staying vigilant was the only way I even found out about these opportunities, and in some cases limited funding meant that if I received funding such as the Family Unification Program (FUP) housing voucher, others did not. My brother and sister emancipated before me, and did not have these opportunities afforded to them. In short, neither graduated college, and my sister became pregnant and homeless her first year after emancipation.

Unfortunate circumstances were common occurrences that surrounded many pre-AB12 foster youth. Though there will always be critics of any social program seen as giving “free” assistance, and some youth report that the funds given by the newly administered policy don’t go far enough, we can see that any step to circumvent negative outcomes of emancipated foster youth is a step in the right direction.

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Chance Tarver
About Chance Tarver 2 Articles
Chance Tarver is a father of one and recent college graduate. After spending fourteen years in foster care, he went on to play college football at Laney College before graduating from UC Berkeley. He remains adamant about contributing to the success of current and former foster youth. Apart from writing for The Chronicle of Social Change, Tarver has lent his efforts to groups such as Foster-A-Dream, Volunteers of America and California Youth Connection for advancement in the lives of foster youth.


  1. As a former foster youth and current Board member of Beyond Emancipation, I am encouraged by your personal story. There’s no better evangelism than case study ‘you’. Keep modeling it. Our collective choices can create a positive standard deviation away from our past and unto an aspirational path.

  2. Great article, Chance. I emancipated in June 2008, also barely missing the bar for qualifying for AB12 funding. You have a really interesting perspective on this issue, and I would love to keep the conversation going. You can reach me on facebook or through email at gabbyhendriksen@gmail.com Looking forward to hearing from you!

  3. Great article! I think gathering more data on outcomes for AB12 youth is crucial. You’re right that it’s better than nothing but that’s a common belief amongst professionals that doesn’t prioritize thorough analysis of services and productivity. I know Mark Courtney is working on the research side…

  4. I don’t know you but I’m impressed with what you’ve done with your life. There are so many kids from two-parent households that don’t accomplish what you have. I have written a book that, I believe, contains information that could help all kids aging out of the system. I’d love to have you download a free e-copy (via the Kindle app) and see if I’m on the right path. Why do I care? I had a foster sister and I was also a single parent of two. It mattered to me that they do well in life. PM me on FB (TheBusinessofLife) or email me janetmnast@yahoo.com if you’re interested in receiving that free e-copy (for the kindle app) of, Shifting to the Business of Life, A Survival Guide for Young Adults. Sincerely, Janet M. Nast

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