CA Budget Gives Schools Money for Foster Youth

On June 13, 2013, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 91, a trailer bill for California’s 2013-14 budget.  SB 91 preserved California’s Foster Youth Services (FYS) program at the current funding level of $15 million.  These funds will allow FYS to ensure that county offices of education continue to coordinate educational services and supports for foster children. Most notably, SB 91 includes groundbreaking reforms that will for the first time require school districts to track the outcomes of foster youth and will increase funding to schools with 15 or more foster youth in attendance. This increased funding and accountability is made possible through the bill’s local control funding formula (LCFF) and is a step toward closing the education achievement gap for foster youth. To demonstrate the gap:

–50 percent of 11th grade foster youth scored “far below basic” and “below basic,” the two lowest levels, on the English-language arts section of the California Standards Test (CST), compared with 24 percent of other 11th grade students.

–Only 19 percent of foster youth scored in the top two levels – advanced and proficient – on the test, whereas 48 percent of their classmates did so.

–More than half (52 percent) of foster youth attended schools that ranked in the bottom 30 percent in the state, compared with 40 percent of the general population attending those campuses.

School districts are now required to develop and implement plans that lay out how the district will improve education outcomes for foster youth. The California Department of Education and the California Department of Social Services are now required to share data so school districts know which students are in foster care. The departments are also required to track and report, at the district, county and state level, the academic achievement and truancy, attendance, drop out and school discipline rates of foster youth and provide this information to the Governor and Legislature.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights helped advocate for the preservation of Foster Youth Services and looks forward to working with school districts throughout Los Angeles County to ensure that the plans created pursuant to SB 91 meet the needs of our clients.