Give Kids Aging Out of the Foster Care System Money To Survive
One of America’s most populous counties is piloting an income guarantee to young adults who age out of the foster care system, providing much-needed support for vulnerable youth transitioning into adulthood. Other cities and counties should follow Santa Clara County’s lead.
Local governments can ensure youth aging out of foster care have money for housing, food, and medical care by providing them with monthly direct-cash payments:
- Local officials can look to Santa Clara County as a roadmap for how to make this happen. Santa Clara is the first county in the country to provide unconditional, direct-cash payments to youth aging out of foster care. The program’s first round of 72 recipients will each receive $1,000 a month, as well as financial mentorship and advising provided through public-private partnerships.
- Cities can pay for programs with their own funds—Santa Clara allocated $900,000 from the County’s general funds—or, like Stockton did, can fund pilot programs through outside donors.
- A majority of likely voters support programs that provide youth transitioning out of the foster care system with monthly direct-cash payments. For those in these programs, the unrestricted direct-cash payments help not only with basic needs, like housing, but also with making their goals of higher education and economic independence more attainable.
- Local officials should seek support from their governors. State legislators can assist local efforts to support foster youth by extending the age eligibility for care, or allocating funds to localities for guaranteed income pilots like Santa Clara’s program.
The current system too often abandons foster youth as they transition to adulthood:
- Children who enter the foster care system are often left out of the conversation about vulnerable communities, despite facing more difficulties—developmentally, physically, and behaviorally—than their peers.
- Barriers to employment, education, and stable housing for youth transitioning out of the foster care system have only been magnified by COVID-19.
- Guaranteed income programs are designed with the specific goal to “empower recipients to address their most urgent needs and provide a cushion for unpredictable expenses, external shocks, and volatility,” as the group Mayors for a Guaranteed Income explains.
- Programs like Santa Clara’s acknowledge that foster youth are some of those most in need of such financial stability. Santa Clara Supervisor Cindy Chavez described the program as a way to “launch human beings to reach their highest capacity” in an interview with Talk Poverty.
- The Case for Providing Guaranteed Income to Kids Aging Out of Foster Care. Mark Courtney and Shanta Trivedi explain the disadvantages faced by youth transitioning out of the foster care system and how guaranteed income programs are being used to support them.
- Voters Support Local Pilot Programs to Give People Direct Cash Payments. A national poll by Data for Progress and The Lab, a policy vertical of The Appeal, reveals broad support from voters for local guaranteed income programs for those who cannot afford to meet their basic needs.
- Why Cities Are Embracing the Guaranteed Income Movement. Compton Mayor Aja Brown and Nika Soon-Shiong join The Appeal Live to discuss cities’ experiments with giving residents guaranteed cash payments.
- Cortese: Support Our Foster Youth in a Post-Coronavirus World (San Jose Spotlight). Former Santa Clara County Supervisor (now Califordnia State Senator) Dave Cortese underscores the challenges foster youth face and why guaranteed income programs are needed to support them.