Steve Shadley, Capital Public Radio
California lawmakers may extend how long foster care kids are eligible for state services. Currently, foster kids can’t receive benefits past the age of 18 or 19.
California Foster Care Kids could continue getting state care until they reach age 21. That’s because a new bill is aimed at taking advantage of federal dollars for states that boost their foster age limits.
Foster kids in California currently age out of the system at 18 or 19. But, Democratic Assemblymember Jim Beall (BELL) of San Jose has introduced legislation to boost the age to 21. He says the state could then get an additional 80-million dollars in federal foster care funds.
Kevin West of Santa Cruz used to be in the foster care system. He says he wished he’d had more time before he was forced out of foster care…
“23 years ago, I entered foster care because my mother was living in a foster care herself. And, for the first 18 years of my life I lived in several foster homes, homeless shelters, group homes and mental health care facilities. The night I turned 18 I was told I had to leave my group home and nobody at the group home didn’t care that I had no place to go…”
West says after foster care he lived on the streets for a while, but now he’s in transitional housing and attends college. Supporters say increasing the foster care age would reduce teen pregnancies, encourage college attendance and keep foster kids out of prison. A state assembly committee will review the bill in a few weeks.