Whether to increase financial support for prenatal care and other needs of pregnant foster youth is in California Governor Jerry Brown’s hands, now that Assembly Bill (AB) 1838 has passed in both the Senate and Assembly.
Authored by Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), AB 1838 would authorize infant supplement payments to begin with a pregnant youth’s third trimester; under current law, payments don’t begin until the child is born.
Earlier this year, Ting was successful in pushing through a budget trailer bill that increases the amount of the infant supplement from $411 to $900 per month. The supplement, which took effect July 1, is given to the parenting youth’s caregiver, if she is in a group home, foster home or living with a relative, or to the youth directly if she’s in an independent living program.
“Pregnant foster youth face many challenges. They frequently don’t have family to help them meet the demands and costs of parenthood,” said Ting in a press release. “Expenses add up quickly as new parents must buy diapers, bottles, baby clothes, and, in some cases, pay for increased rent. By helping expectant foster youth, we can encourage more to pursue prenatal care, and we will help ensure a better future for these families in need.”
The new law would impact the lives of approximately 900 young women in foster care, according to the press release. The Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services estimates that L.A. County is home to about 50 pregnant and 400 parenting foster youth.
“As a state we made a commitment to help these young parents keep their children in their care and be able to a provide safe and healthy home, and this bill is a critical piece,” said Sue Abrams, policy director at Children’s Law Center of California.
AB 1838 was sponsored by the John Burton Foundation, the Children’s Law Center of California and First Place for Youth.