Foster youth enrichment bill heads to Assembly

Senator Scott Wilk of the 21st district.
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The California Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 219 on Thursday, meaning foster youth in Santa Clarita and beyond could soon see hundreds of dollars that can be used for various activities.

SB 219, which is authored by Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, is an effort to make foster youth in four different counties eligible to receive up to $500 for extracurricular and enrichment activities.

Wilk said in a news release Thursday the grant would allow students to participate in programs that they otherwise would not be able to, including sports, science programs and activities pertaining to arts, music, dance and theater.

“I have had the opportunity to talk with many former and current foster youth who have shared their opinions on what would make a real difference in their lives, (and) participating in extracurricular activities was one such area,” Wilk said. “These are kids — the more stability and normalcy we can provide to them while in foster care will pay off in the long run.”

SB 219 builds on the “Foster Youth Bill of Rights” that the California Legislature passed in 2001, Wilk said, adding the previous bill specifically mentions extracurricular activities but there has been no funding allocated, so foster youth have not been provided the opportunity to enjoy these activities.

Participation in enrichment programs  is linked to young people building resilience, improving self-efficacy and is even known to counteract the harmful effects of trauma, Wilk said, citing a study from the Youth Law Center.

“The statistics for foster youth school success rates in California are very bleak,” the senator said. “This bill will enhance the lives of foster youth, help them succeed in school and build a robust resume when applying for secondary education. We need to make our California foster youth a priority this year.”

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