The California state Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would extend access to financial support for pregnant teens in need.
According to the Associated Press, the Senate approved AB 1640 by a 24-12 vote, and it will move back to the Assembly for a final vote. If passed, the bill will significantly extend access to CalWORKs, a welfare program that gives cash aid and services to families in need.
Currently, pregnant teens are only eligible for CalWORKs assistance in the third trimester of pregnancy. They are also required to be eligible for Cal-Learn, a program that helps parenting teens graduate from high school.
The bill would eliminate the Cal-Learn eligibility requirement and would extend funds to pregnant teens in any stage of pregnancy.
According to California Senator Carol Liu, one of the bill's supporters, many homeless teens and teens-in-need do not have access to proper nutrition and healthcare throughout pregnancy, leading to significant birth risks.
The bill referenced several studies that showed correlations between the psychological state of a mother during pregnancy and the health of the infant.
"Very young, poor pregnant women who don't receive grant income and uninterrupted supportive services are more likely to experience premature and low-birth-weight babies," wrote Liu in a summary. "Their children are more likely to experience health and behavioral challenges which may have life-long impacts on child development."
The California Department of Finance opposed the bill, noting concern over additional costs.