Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), has introduced, SB 739, the “Universal Basic Income for Transition Age Foster Youth Act”, which would provide direct cash assistance through a statewide universal basic income (UBI) Pilot Program for the approximately 3,000 youth who age out of Extended Foster Care in California each year.
In the year 2019, there were 20,000 children in the Unites States who aged out of foster care without ever finding a permanent placement with families.
A recent University of California, Irvine study displayed that, on average, “children who have been in the U.S. foster care system are at a significantly higher risk of mental and physical health problems — ranging from learning disabilities, developmental delays and depression to behavioral issues, asthma and obesity — than children who haven’t been in foster care.”
The factors that have created this disproportionality have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, leaving our youth aging out of the foster care system particularly vulnerable.
Foster youth between the ages of 18 or 24, also known as Transition Age Youth (TAY), are a particularly vulnerable community who face significant challenges transitioning into adulthood and financial independence. After their 21st birthday, TAY Youth in California “age out” of Extended Foster Care, making them ineligible for many of the resources they previously relied on.
Foster youth already face significant disadvantages compared to their peers in the general population – they are more likely to have unfavorable employment outcomes, physical and mental health issues, and low rates of secondary and postsecondary educational attainment. While research shows remaining in Extended Foster Care improves the likelihood of favorable outcomes for TAY Youth, research also shows that abruptly cutting off the majority of resources for TAY Youth at age 21 has its own set of negative consequences.
“Universal basic income can serve as a lifeline for foster youth in a post-pandemic world,” says Senator Dave Cortese who points to a growing body of evidence presenting universal basic income (UBI) as a means to reducing health inequities and increasing career and educational opportunities.
Cortese has introduced SB 739, the “Universal Basic Income for Transition Age Foster Youth Act”, to support former foster youth in their transition out of the foster care system during our current economic decline.
Universal basic income for foster youth is not a new concept for the Senator. In Santa Clara County, Senator Cortese launched the first program in the nation to provide universal basic income to young adults transitioning out of foster care.
Under this program, transitioning young adults who age out of the foster care system in Santa Clara County receive direct cash payments of $1,000 a month for one year.
The Senator worked closely with Gisèle Huff, president of the Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity, an organization dedicated to furthering the implementation of UBI, to launch the program.
“On the heels of the successful implementation of a first-of-its-kind program in Santa Clara County, I commend Senator Cortese for expanding this concept statewide to support foster youth navigate a pandemic-induced recession,” says Gisèle Huff.
To alleviate financial uncertainty during unprecedentedly difficult times, SB 739 would require the State Department of Social Services to provide California residents who age out of the foster care system at age 21, approximately 3,000 people a year, direct monthly payments of $1,000 for three years.
“During a time of such uncertainty, unconditional basic income will provide stability to our foster youth transitioning out of foster care and into adulthood, so that they can advance their social, economic, and educational outcomes,” says Senator Cortese.