SACRAMENTO – The California Assembly Human Services Committee on Tuesday unanimously approved Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), a measure that would create a pilot program for foster youth to receive grants for extracurricular and enrichment activities.
Senator Scott Wilk (D-Santa Clarita), representing the 21st Senate District, introduced the bill and made the announcement Wednesday.
SB 219 will now proceed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, date pending.
“Thank you to Lucy Carter with the Youth Law Center and Quijai Johnson, a former foster youth who is now a student at UC Berkeley, for coming out to testify in support of the bill,” Wilk said. “Quijai’s testimony was incredibly powerful and moving, detailing her and her brother’s experience in the foster system.”
SB 219 seeks to make foster youth in four counties eligible to receive up to $500 for extracurricular and enrichment activities. This grant would allow students to participate in activities they otherwise would be unable to do, such as sports, STEM programs, graduation activities, arts, music, dance, and theater.
The bill is sponsored by the Youth Law Center, which has worked tirelessly on these issues. Earlier this year, YLC released a study regarding the benefits of enrichment activities for young people in foster care. Participation in such activities is linked to building resilience, improving self-efficacy, and even counteracting the harmful effects of trauma.
SB 219 builds on the “Foster Youth Bill of Rights” that the California Legislature passed in 2001. While extracurricular activities are specifically mentioned in that bill, there has not been any funding allocated to provide them.
“As pointed out by our eloquent speakers today, we cannot leave the fate of foster youth up to luck,” Wilk said. “California’s foster youth deserve to have an equal fighting chance to use their skills and develop their talents. Quality care shouldn’t be optional.”