Governor Signs Weber Bill Expanding Educational Support for Foster Kids

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

SACRAMENTO - Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown has signed legislation authored by Assemblymember Shirley N. Weber aimed at tripling the number of foster children eligible for supplemental educational services through the state's Foster Youth Services (FYS) program.

"We know that students in foster care are more likely to achieve their full potential when they are provided services designed to meet their particular needs," said Assemblymember Weber. "It's imperative that foster youth get the support and resources they need to succeed academically."

Students in foster care are one of the most vulnerable and academically underserved student groups in California schools. A recent study found that foster youth had both the lowest graduation rate and highest dropout rate of any student group in the state. FYS helps these students through special programs, including counseling and mentoring, aimed at mitigating the academic disadvantages foster youth experience.

The FYS program is limited by statute to serving foster youth placed in non-relative foster care settings like group homes, which results in students placed with relatives being shut out of getting the services they need. Currently, only about 30 percent of California's foster youth are eligible for the program.

"Regardless of placement, these children are our responsibility," Weber said. "We know that foster children living with relatives face the same barriers to academic achievement as youth in group homes. It just makes sense that we give all of these children the additional support they need for success."

AB 854 would expand FYS eligibility to match the broader definition of foster youth used in the state's Local Control Funding Formula for K-12 education. The bill also leverages the expertise and knowledge of the county FYS programs to support districts in implementing LCFF for foster youth.