Goals of Current Policy and Implementation
AB 12 attempts to address the need to have services for youth who have been emancipated or discharged from the foster system. This is required as the data on the subject highlights that youth are simply often not able to be thriving adults on their eighteenth birthdays. Many find themselves on the street homeless, without jobs, in jail or parents before they are fully able to care for themselves.
The goal of AB 12 is to extend foster care to age 21 and access the federal match of the national foster care system. According to the Assembly Bill 12 Primer (2014), AB 12 does the following:
1) Convert California's Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin‐ GAP) into a federally subsidized program; 2) Provide foster care benefits (also known as AFDC‐FC benefits) for eligible youth up until the age of 21; 3) Provide extended Kin‐GAP assistance or AAP assistance to eligible youth up until age 21, provided the Kin‐GAP payments began or the initial AAP agreement was signed when the youth was age 16 or older; 4) Provide CalWORKs benefits to eligible foster youth up until the age of 21 when the foster youth is placed with an approved relative and is not eligible for federal AFDC‐FC benefits; rovide extended foster care benefits up to age 21 to youth living with a non‐related legal guardian when the guardianship was created by the juvenile court (regardless of the age of the youth when guardianship was ordered).
Youth who are ages 18 to 21 are eligible to receive services as of January 1, 2014 as long as they have a foster care order before their eighteenth birthday, (CFC, 2014). This includes youth who are currently in placement, awaiting placement or are runaways. Youth who have exited the foster care system are able to return and receive services up to age 21 as long as they had an order prior to their 18th birthday.
In order for youth who meet the above requirements to remain eligible they must also meet one of the following contribution requirements: complete high school or equivalency program (i.e., GED, CHSPE); minimally half time enrolled in college or vocational training program; receiving pay for full time employment (80 hrs. per month); participating in employment training or other program to remove barriers for employment (therapeutic interventions, substance abuse treatment); or are unable to meet one of the above requirements due to health condition. This includes both long term and short term conditions as well as mental and physical health conditions (Beall & Bass, 2010). The bill was fully implemented as of January 1, 2014.
In the John Burton Policy Brief on AB 12 the realities of education for foster youth are highlighted, “The rate at which foster youth complete high school (50 percent) is significantly lower than the rate at which their peers complete high school (70 percent),” (2011, p. 2). This affects chances for higher education including college degrees. This has a significant...