California May Mandate Data on Parenting Foster Youths; Up To Governor

The California State Assembly passed a downsized version of a bill that mandates the collection of data about parenting foster youths, and the bill is now headed to the desk of Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature.

“We’re very pleased and think that it’s an important step forward with a lot more work to do,” said Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation.

The bill will lead to the first true accounting of how many pregnant and parenting youth are in the foster care system in California, according to Lemley.

The bill has two key parts:

  • The California Department of Social Services would be required to collect data on the number of parenting youth in foster care, their ethnicity, placement type, county of origin and length of stay in the foster care system
  • Information would be collected about whether or not the child of the dependent parent has been placed in foster care.

Early versions of the bill, which was authored by State Sen. Leland Yee (D), authorized more support services to parenting foster youth. Subsidized child care for the teen parents was included, along with state-mandated sexual development education to all youth in foster care starting at age 12. The bill also required specialized conferences for pregnant youth in foster care to ensure they have access to services, including prenatal care.

President Barack Obama promoted a small federally-funded project around the same services in his 2014 proposal to Congress.

Lemley called the removal of those provisions “part of the policy making process. While we’re disappointed, we’re really excited about what is inside the bill.”

“We can really learn more about this group of young people and not only target young people but understand that this is a growing population of young people, especially as we extend care to age 21,” said Lemley.

Governor Brown has 12 days to either sign or veto the bill; unless he vetoes it, the bill will pass.

Ryann Blackshere is a reporter for The Chronicle of Social Change

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