CA Senate Bill 12, aimed to assist foster youth attending California community colleges, moved forward in the legislative process on April 25.
Senator Jim Beall, D-San Jose, introduced SB 12 on Dec. 5. As an extension of SB 1023, SB 12 implementation “increases the college enrollment of foster youth by directing county child welfare agencies to assign a staffer to assist the student through financial aid application process” according to the senator’s website.
In addition, the bill authorizes the California Community College system to double existing on-campus-based support programs from ten districts to 20,” as stated on the senator’s website.
Gov. Brown signed SB 1023 on Sept. 29, 2014, which “authorizes the Chancellor’s Office of the California Community Colleges to establish the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) program with up to 10 community college districts,” according to gov.ca.gov.
Like the programs CAFYES seeks to assist, Cosumnes River College has an on-campus support program for current and former foster youth called the Enriched Scholars Program (ESP).
According to the ESP web page, the program’s mission is to function as “an academic support service committed to advocacy, providing personal growth and economic opportunity for its diverse foster youth population through education.”
ESP “puts the needs of foster youth as a priority by allowing them to pursue their educational endeavors,” according to the same web page.
“Some wonderful things about student support programs, such as ESP, are they uplift students, provide resources and information, academic assistance, funding for books, access to scholarships, food, etc., and we are here for them,” said Michelle Dean, an ESP program advisor. “Gaining access to funding from grants such as CAFYES would further allow us to increase services provided to current and former foster youth on our campus.”
The data on foster youth educational progress pursuing higher education may suggest the necessity for the proposed CA senate bill.
“In California, foster youth are 29 percent less likely than non-foster youth to persist at least one year in Community College”according to John Burton Advocates for Youth.
“By age 26 just 8 percent of former foster youth have an Associate’s degree or higher as compared to 47 percent of the same-age population of non-foster youth.”
Funding for the program expansion to benefit additional Community College districts would come from the CAFYES grant. Currently, CAFYES uses approximately $9 million of the $15 million that was allocated annually to support campus support programs within the 10 awarded districts, according to Jbaforyouth.org.
As of now, SB-12 is set for a hearing on May 15 according to leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.
Further information regarding SB-12 can be found at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov. And to learn more about the Enriched Scholars Program call (916) 691-7075 and visit the website at https://www.crc.losrios.edu/services/support/fosteryouth.