Commentary: Care for foster children must be extended

This editorial appeared in The Fresno Bee.

Imagine being a senior in high school, planning for graduation, perhaps hoping to go to college. The day you turn 18, you come home to find the door locked. You're homeless, on your own – no money, no job and no place to live. That is the harsh reality facing too many of California's 4,500 youths who at 18 "age out" of the state's foster-care system every year.

These are our kids, wards of the state, children whom state authorities removed from homes because of neglect or abuse. The state is their parent. Acting as parent, the state has an obligation to help these young people step over a threshold into a more secure adulthood.

For budget-challenged states like California, there is assistance. Before he left office, President George W. Bush signed the Fostering Connections Act, which provides federal subsidies to states that extend foster benefits to age 21.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass has introduced Assembly Bill 12 to tap that federal money. AB 12 would support transitional services for foster youths through age 21. The youths would have to be enrolled in school or job training, or working at least 80 hours a month.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fresno Bee.

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