Wilk introduces legislation to assist foster youth

Senator Scott Wilk of the 21st district.
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In an effort to help the hundreds of foster youth who live in the Santa Clarita Valley and its neighboring communities, Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, has introduced new legislation aiming to create a pilot program that will allow foster youth to receive grants for extracurricular and enrichment activities.

“California ranks 36th in the nation among states in overall child well-being,” Wilk said in a news release Thursday.

“When one looks at overall well-being of foster youth, the stats are even bleaker,” Wilk said, adding a third of all foster youth never finish high school or get a GED. “Giving these kids every opportunity to succeed was the intent behind this bill.”

Senate Bill 219 seeks to make foster youth eligible to receive up to $500 for enrichment and extracurricular activities so they can pursue projects related to art, music, dance, theater, sports and more, the release states.

This year, the Youth Law Center released a study that found participation in these activities helps young people build resilience, improve self-efficacy and even counteract the harmful effects of trauma, the release states. Not only will these activities enhance the lives of foster youth, but it will also provide them with a robust resume when applying for secondary education as well as working to close the achievement gap for students in foster care, the release said.

“Extracurricular and enrichment activities provide such a benefit to foster youth that in 2001 the Legislature added the engagement in those activities to what is considered the Bill of Rights for all foster youth,” Wilk added. “It’s clear our California foster youth needs to be a priority this year.”

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