Senate Bill 546, authored by Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, is slated to appear on the Senate Appropriations Committee’s docket after clearing the Senate Human Services Committee with unanimous support Tuesday.
The bill would provide “LifeLine” phones to foster youth and extends the California Public Utilities Commission’s (CPUC) “iFoster Pilot Program,” which currently provides California’s foster youth with smartphones and free voice, text and data.
“The Senate Human Services Committee agreed that now is not the time for the state to take phones away from foster youth,” said Wilk. “Cell phone ownership is oftentimes a lifeline for foster youth during normal times, and the events of last year underscored how important it is to continue the availability of these resources.”
SB 546 provides foster youth between the ages of 13 and 26 with continued access to the benefits of the CPUC’s LifeLine program. The California LifeLine Program provides discounted home phones and cell phone services for eligible individuals.
This bill would continue to supply smartphones to foster youth, and would take effect immediately upon becoming law, to prevent participating foster youth from experiencing a gap in service between the end of the pilot program and the implementation of this bill.
SB 546 previously passed out of the Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee on a 14-0 vote.