By: Stephanie Ludwig
As part of the budget package, lawmakers have opted to save two programs crucial to foster youths’ educational success.
Senate Bill 1016, signed into law as a trailer bill on the California State Budget, will fund an affidavit system which allows caretakers of children that would otherwise be in the foster care system to sign a document allowing those students to enroll in school. SB 1016 will also maintain state law which calls for the timely transfer of foster student records from school district to school district.
The two programs were up on the chopping block as the Brown Administration pushed through the 2012-2013 budget plan but a revised trailer bill saving the programs was approved by the governor on June 16th.
The affidavit and educational mandates will be funded as part of a much larger $200 million block grant from the education budget trailer bill, says Laura Faer of Directing Attorney of the Public Counsel Law Center’s Children’s Rights Project.
“The block grant structure is established in the education budget trailer bill – SB 1016 is the version signed into law,” says Kim Connor, a consultant for the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee. She says previous iterations of the bill included Assembly Bill 1464 and Assembly Bill 1497.
Keeping the affidavit program will benefit what the Annie E. Casey Foundation estimates as 333,000 California children living with a relative caregiver. The program has cost an average of $584,123.20 in the last five years, according to the Department of Finance. Transferring records for foster youth is estimated to cost the state $200,000 in photocopying costs.
Advocates call funding these measures a step in the right direction for vulnerable youth.
“That’s great news for us,” says Faer. “Both of those provisions will be protected for students in need.”