<em>Patt Morrison</em> is known for its innovative discussions of local politics and culture, as well as its presentation of the effects of national and world news on Southern California.
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The power of 3 extra years: AB12 to the rescue of California’s foster youth

Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill to extend foster care benefits to age 21
Governor Schwarzenegger signed a bill to extend foster care benefits to age 21
MC Glasgow/Flickr

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Navigating the foster care system is a tough business for the kids who must live it, but life outside of the system can be even tougher. Once foster youth turn 18 they are essentially on their own: penniless and aimless, foster kids at 18 are more likely to be homelessness, incarcerated, or addicted to drugs than the average teen. Yesterday California implemented a common sense solution to this problem when Gov. Schwarzenegger signed AB12, the California Fostering Connections Success Act, which allows foster youth to stay in the system until they are 21. Under AB12 foster youth who continue their education or job training and who work at least a part-time job would be eligible for extended benefits until they are 21. The costs for these extra years of benefits will be cost negligible for California, as AB12 is designed to bring the state into compliance with a 2008 act of Congress that made federal matching funds available for these kinds of programs. Can three extra years help the thousands of foster kids manage the difficult transition into independent adulthood?

Hear the issues from the perspective of former foster care youth


Trish Ploehn, director of the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) Chantel Johnson, legislative and policy director at California Youth Connection Karen Bass, Speaker Emeritus (D-Baldwin Hills) Monique Molina, former foster care youth & member of the Placer Chapter of California Youth Connection Trayvon Walker, foster reform advocate and former foster youth Lola Bell, former foster youth