Originally published on Youthradio.org, the premier source for youth generated news throughout the globe.
By: Rachel Krantz
For most teenagers, turning 18 might mean being allowed to vote, or owning a credit card. For youth in the foster care system in California, turning 18 means an end to government support, and often homelessness. The problem is so great in California that 40% of people living in homeless shelters are former foster care youth.
Changing the age of emancipation out of the foster care system from 18 to 21 is just one of the many recommendations put forth this month by the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care. Other recommendations include "reduc[ing] the disproportionate number of African-American and American Indians in the Child welfare system" as well as making sure "children and parents have an opportunity to be present and heard in court".
Bill AB12 is now in the California Senate and seeks to extend the age of emancipation in the state. Proponents of the bill, which is endorsed by the Blue Ribbon Commission, believe that federal funding could provide the state with up to $70 million dollars a year in order to continue helping foster youth past age 18.
Lanette Scott aged out of foster care seven years ago, but still remembers how difficult the adjustment was. "My college didn't understand that during breaks I didn't have a family to go back to. That made it a struggle to finish school. I had to petition for them to let me stay on campus during vacations."
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