Bubble Bill on Way to CA State Senate

Assm. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) adresses foster youth on the Capitol steps in Sacramento in run-up to AB 1712’s passage in the State Assembly.

By. Amabelle Ocampo

On May 30th a bill that would clarify how foster care is extended in California passed the State Assembly with a unanimous 76-0 vote.

“This bill is a lifeline for foster youth caught in the trenches of transition,” said Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) in a statement given the Chronicle of Social Change.

“It could make the difference between finding safe housing instead of homelessness.”

The bill would remedy a gap in funding for those foster youth whose 19th birthday falls in 2012. When lawmakers passed the landmark California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB 12) in 2010 and took advantage of matching federal funds to extend foster care to age 20, they phased in implementation to save money. For youth who turn 19, the way that the law was written meant that counties were left holding the bag, ultimately deciding whether or not to keep youth in without state or federal funding.

As the Chronicle reported in a slew of stories in the run-up to the State Assembly Committee on Appropriations hearing earlier in May, 2,166 foster youth find themselves in this situation. While some counties like Los Angeles and San Francisco have opted to keep these youth in, others have not, often saying that the price tag is too high.

An analysis submitted to the Assembly after the bill made it through the Appropriations Committee said that the eliminating the funding bubble would cost $1.6 million in 2012-13 and $260,000 in 2013-14.  But this cost would be more than offset by a savings of up to $15 million by 2016-17 in “federal financial participation” associated with a separate foster care program.

“The next step will be a hearing once the Senate Rules decides which committee, likely Health and Human Services,” said Kenton Stanhope, a staff member for Assembly member Jim Beall (D-San Jose) in a phone interview.

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