State, Federal and Alliance Priorities Align
In June, Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2014-2015 California budget, which makes a significant re-investment in early education for infants and toddlers. In particular, the budget allocated $7.9 million to restore the Early Start Program to pre-2009 eligibility. This will broaden early intervention service eligibility for children with, or at risk of, developmental delays. Now, more vulnerable children will receive the therapeutic supports they need to be successful in kindergarten and beyond. This is a huge win for the 50% of foster children who have a developmental delay or disability. This investment is a step in the right direction after California cut $1 billion in funding for all early childhood services between 2008 and 2013.
Every year, the Alliance’s Saltz Family Early Intervention Advocacy Center helps more than 250 children age zero to 5 get the developmental therapies they need to be healthy, strong and ready for school. This investment will go a long way to reaching vulnerable foster children as early as possible, which will lead to better long-term outcomes.
On the other end of the age spectrum, President Obama recently signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) to help young people look for work and further their education to develop the skills sought by employers. WIOA targets youth by focusing on program services for: (1) out-of-school youth, (2) improving high school dropout recovery efforts and (3) attaining postsecondary credentials. WIOA also provides youth with disabilities the services and support they need to be successful in a competitive job market. This workforce development system enables communities to connect low-income youth to employment and job training opportunities that lead to independence.
WIOA aligns with the goals of the Los Angeles Opportunity Youth Collaborative (OYC) announced above. This national focus and resulting act will only increase resources and opportunities for transition-age foster youth in Los Angeles when it becomes effective in July 2015.
We look forward to leveraging these national and state priorities to the advantage of children and young adults who possess infinite potential!