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CWLA Commends Gov. Schwarzenegger for Signing Law that Protects and Supports California’s Foster Youth to Age 21

California Law Points to Success of Fostering Connections Act

Arlington, VA - The Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), the nation’s oldest and largest membership-based child welfare organization, is pointing to Governor Schwarzenegger’s signing of AB 12 into law as another victory for foster children that can be directly attributed to the 2008 Fostering Connections to Success Act. California has the largest population of foster youth “aging out” of the child welfare system, so its new law will have an immediate and significant impact in helping more foster children adapt to adulthood better.

“California’s a big state, and this is big news that will have far-reaching affects for foster children. We applaud the Governor and state legislature for enacting this important legislation,” said CWLA CEO Christine James-Brown. “This is another important outcome from the 2008 Fostering Connections Act, and we hope that California’s leadership will encourage other states to enact similar laws.”

As encouraged in the Fostering Connections Act, California’s law (AB12) extends support services to foster youth up until the age of 21 (instead of 18) for as long as they are working or attending school. California joins 31 states and DC that allow youth to remain in foster care to age 21. However, only a handful of these states have enacted legislation to allow them to participate in the federally supported program.

Research shows that youth who receive support after age 18 are two times more likely to be working toward completion of a high school diploma, three times more likely to be enrolled in college, and much less likely to be arrested. For every $1 invested by a state, there is an estimated $2.41 return on investment.

James-Brown noted: “We have more states allowing foster youth to stay connected to the child welfare system longer. Now we must educate and encourage more youth to avail themselves of the system’s benefits. The additional supports can be critical to ensuring that children aging out of the system are better prepared to handle the challenges of adulthood.”

Historically, youth leaving the foster care system due to adulthood were instantly left with few connections and resources, placing them at higher risk for unemployment, health issues, welfare dependency, incarceration, and homelessness. Spurred by greater awareness and the Fostering Connections Act, foster youth who are aging out are starting to receive more attention and resources, ensuring better long-term outcomes.

About CWLA
CWLA is a powerful coalition of hundreds of private and public agencies serving vulnerable children and families since 1920. Through its programs, publications, research, conferences, professional development, and consultation, CWLA speaks with authority and candor about the status and the needs of American children, young people, and families. As the nationally recognized standard-setter for child welfare services, CWLA provides direct support to agencies that serve children and families, improving the quality of the services they provide to more than nine million children every year.

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