Commentary: Don't Abandon 18-year-olds

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(Sacramento, CA)
Friday, June 16, 2006

The state of California is the parent of 85,000 children. I'm talking about foster kids - children who've been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect.

Every year some 4,500 of the state's children turn 18. Suddenly, they're on their own. Most of them are like other 18 year olds - woefully unprepared to care for themselves. Without the support of their parent, the state, huge numbers of former foster kids end up homeless, in prison or in jail.

Several bills in the Legislature would help these parentless kids. The most important increases state support to families who take in foster children. Experience shows foster families often fall in love with foster kids and then adopt them, creating what every child needs to become a healthy adult: a real permanent connection with family. Other measures help 18-year-olds who age out of the foster care system make the transition into adulthood. One provides money for housing and food. Another makes it easier for these kids to hold onto health and dental care until at least age 21, and one helps with college or post high school training.

All of these bills are stalled. Call Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata. Tell them, “Don't let California abandon its children.”


Ginger Rutland writes for the Sacramento Bee Opinion pages.