At the recent Board of Supervisors meeting, I put forward a necessary action to support Assembly Bill 1512, which holds significant importance for the welfare of foster youth.
The issue at hand revolves around the historical practice in California counties where, upon the unfortunate circumstance of a child’s parents passing away, foster care youth’s Social Security benefits were collected by the counties.
The counties utilized these funds to cover the expenses associated with the care of these children.
However, this approach inadvertently contributed to an unfortunate trend of foster youth experiencing homelessness.
Fortunately, San Diego County recognized the flaws in this system and took the initiative to reform the practice earlier this year. In San Diego, the Social Security benefits allocated to foster care youth are now deposited into a reserve account, where they remain untouched until the child reaches the age of 16.
This change ensures that these funds are safeguarded and available to support the youth’s needs more responsibly and beneficially.
Assembly Bill 1512, advocated for at the Board of Supervisors meeting, seeks to extend this reform statewide.
If passed, the bill would require all counties in California to follow San Diego County’s example by directing the funds into a reserve account for each foster child.
Moreover, the proposed legislation also mandates that counties provide financial planning services to foster youth.
This addition is crucial as it empowers these young individuals with the knowledge and skills to make sound financial decisions and set a foundation for a more promising future.
San Diego County has emerged as a leader in implementing these reforms, recognizing the importance of protecting and nurturing the financial well-being of foster youth.
The hope is that other counties throughout California will emulate their progressive approach and adopt similar practices.
By doing so, they can improve the lives of foster youth statewide, ensuring that these vulnerable individuals have the necessary resources and support to thrive and overcome their challenges.
Jim Desmond represents District 5 on the San Diego County Board of Supervisors.