State Sen. Scott Wilk (21st District) has announced the Assembly Human Services Committee unanimous approval Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), a measure that will create a pilot program for foster youth to receive grants for extracurricular and enrichment activities. SB 219 will now proceed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, date pending.
“Thank you to Lucy Carter with the Youth Law Center and Quijai Johnson, a former foster youth who is now a student at UC Berkeley, for coming out to testify in support of the bill,” Wilk said. “Quijai’s testimony was incredibly powerful and moving, detailing her and her brother’s experience in the foster system.”
SB 219 seeks to make foster youth in four counties eligible to receive up to $500 for extracurricular and enrichment activities. This grant would allow students to participate in activities they otherwise would be unable to do, such as sports, STEM programs, graduation activities, arts, music, dance, and theater.
The bill is sponsored by the Youth Law Center, who have worked tirelessly on foster youth issues. Earlier this year, they released a study regarding the benefits of enrichment activities on foster youth. Participation in such activities is linked to young people building resilience, improving self-efficacy, and even counteracting the harmful effects of trauma.
SB 219 builds on the “Foster Youth Bill of Rights” that the California Legislature passed in 2001. While extracurricular activities are specifically mentioned in that bill, there has not been any funding allocated to provide them for foster youth.
“As pointed out by our eloquent speakers today, we cannot leave the fate of foster youth up to luck,” Wilk added. “California’s foster youth deserve to have an equal fighting chance to use their skills and develop their talents. Quality care shouldn’t be optional.”