Sent via fax: 916-319-2189 RE: SUPPORT FOR SB 1252 (TORRES): TRANSITIONAL HOUSING FOR FORMER FOSTER YOUTH IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION Dear Assemblymember Stone,
On behalf of the (ORG), I am writing in strong support of SB 1252, which would help close the achievement gap that exists among former foster youth in post-secondary education by changing eligibility criteria for THP-Plus, the state’s transitional housing program for former foster youth. I respectfully request your support of this important legislation.
(INFO ABOUT ORG) THP-Plus was established by the California State Legislature in 2001 to reduce homelessness among former foster youth by providing safe, affordable housing and supportive services for 24 months to former foster youth, ages 18 to 24. According to a 2013 analysis, youth who participate in THP-Plus make measurable gains in employment, education, health and housing stability during their time in the program. Equally important, their rates of criminal involvement are markedly lower than that of their peers.
SB 1252 would continue the strong tradition of helping former foster youth make a safe, supported transition to young adulthood by allowing THP-Plus participants enrolled in post-secondary education to participate in THP-Plus for up to 36 months, rather than the current 24 months of eligibility. SB 1252 would also authorize eligible youth to participate in THP-Plus until they turn age 25, an increase from the current eligibility cut-off of age 24.
These changes will make a significant difference in the ability of former foster youth to achieve an academic outcome during their participation in the program. Currently, many youth in THP-Plus are very close to earning their Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree at the point the program ends. With just a semester or two left, they commonly find their attention diverted from school and instead focused on their housing transition. This can often set back their academic progress considerably and the economic security that comes with attainment of a college degree.
By offering this additional time for youth enrolled in postsecondary education, SB 1252 will help former foster youth secure their degree and help close the significant achievement gap that exists among youth in post-secondary education. By age 26, just 8 percent of former foster youth hold an Associate’s Degree or higher, as compared to 48 percent of the same-age population of non-foster youth.
SB 1252 would provide county child welfare agencies with the option of whether or not to implement this extended eligibility criteria rather than requiring all counties to adopt this provision. As such, SB 1252 would not create a new state mandate. Instead, county child welfare agencies would have the flexibility to design their THP-Plus programs to reflect local demand and changing demographics.
Thank you for your long-standing support of foster youth. I urge your support of SB 1252.