California Bill Assisting Parenting Teens Passes Committee Same Week Federal Money Made Available

California State Senate Bill 528, which aims to assist pregnant and parenting teens in foster care, passed the Human Services Committee this week, while President Barack Obama introduced a similar proposal in his Fiscal 2014 budget.

“We just feel this legislation is offering proven assistance to a vulnerable population, so we’re very happy this is passing and moving hopefully to the governor’s desk where we hope he will sign it,” said Dan Lieberman, district director for Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo).

Senator Yee, who is the bill’s author, is also the chairman of the Human Services Committee where the bill passed with a 6-0 vote. Before the bill hits Governor Brown’s desk, it will first head to the Senate Judiciary Committee. If it passes, it will move to the Senate Education Committee and on to the Appropriation Committee for an estimate on the cost of the bill and decision on whether or not California can afford the price tag.

Lieberman says “at this point we’re quite confident” that the bill will pass all the committees.

In the federal budget released yesterday, President Obama proposed federal funding specifically on preventing foster teens from getting pregnant. The new initiative would be funded at $12 million per year through unspent abstinence funds. Instead of being returned to the Treasury, these funds would be used to award competitive grants to local and state child welfare agencies that demonstrate leadership and initiative in reducing foster youth pregnancies.

SB 528 will work on similar initiatives in California. The bill would prioritize subsidized child care for parenting foster youth. Current law prioritizes foster parents for reduced-price child care, but not youth in care who are parents themselves.

“The timing is really quite lovely,” said Lieberman. “Thankfully we’re out front on this one.”

The bill would also expand statewide a Los Angeles county program called Team Decision Making, which provides parenting foster youth with individual conferences with specialists and adults of their choice who can help them create a plan for raising the child.

The proposed legislation would also require the California Department of Social Services to collect data regarding the number of foster youth who are also parents, and require counties to ensure all foster youth receive age-appropriate reproductive health education.

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