CLC applauds California Leaders for preserving dependency counsel funding and prioritizing transition age foster youth in the budget.
June 30, 2020 – Budgets reflect leaders’ values. The budget passed by the California Legislature and signed by Governor Newsom last night reflects their commitment to California’s youth, including youth in foster care. This budget preserves critical dependency counsel funding and bolsters the safety net for transition age youth who are facing a heavy emotional and economic burden as a result of the current public health crisis.
Youth exiting foster care are generally at risk of experiencing homelessness. Foster youth whose transitional years are disrupted by an emergency are even more at risk as they face a badly damaged economy, fewer job prospects, limited housing stock, and ongoing trauma. However, yesterday’s budget deal includes a significant $32 million investment in transition age youth. Most 21 year olds as well as youth who have lost their jobs or had their schooling disrupted are now able to have their benefits extended through June 2021.
“The thought of having to tell our clients that we might not have an answer for them – when they worked so hard to get to college, hold down jobs, or sign their first lease only to face losing it all because of the pandemic was heartbreaking,” said Leslie Heimov, Executive Director, Children’s Law Center of California. “We’re thrilled instead to be able to tell them that the Legislature and the Governor heard them, heard us – and have stepped up and will provide the support needed to ensure that they do not become homeless or go hungry.”
“It’s difficult to explain the fear of not knowing where I was going to be or how I was going to pay my bills,” said R.C, a CLC client, who in the midst of dealing with the economic burdens of COVID-19 was also facing termination of extended foster care and all associated benefits on 6/30/20. “It’s a relief to learn that California’s leaders have taken action to support me and other foster youth. This action will ensure I have a place to live and survive during these hard times. Thank you Senator Beall, Governor Newsom and legislators for supporting foster youth.”
The budget also maintained dependency counsel funding at current levels. With limited access to the courts and a growing backlog of cases as a result of COVID-19, the advocacy needs of our young clients are more critical now than ever. The funding is essential to ensuring access to high-quality legal representation and builds off the previous work to address the crushing caseloads that have historically confronted the dependency counsel community.
We applaud California leaders for their ongoing commitment to the health, safety, and well-being of the 60,000 children and youth in the foster care system and to ensuring that they have a meaningful voice.
The Children’s Law Center of California (CLC) provides skilled legal representation for abused, neglected, or abandoned children and youth under the jurisdiction of the dependency court. CLC is the largest nonprofit law firm in the nation, advocating for over 33,000 children and youth in foster care in Los Angeles, Sacramento, and Placer counties each year.