John Burton Advocates for Youth is dedicated to improving the quality of life for California’s foster, former foster and homeless youth and developing policy solutions to prevent homelessness.

John Burton Advocates for Youth
235 Montgomery, Suite 1142
San Francisco, CA 94104
AB 12 Question of the Week Index

3/9/17: JBAY Webinar - On-Campus Resources & Support for Foster Youth in College (Post-Secondary Education Training Series)

3/15/17: Senate Education Committee Hearing, SB 12 being heard

4/18/17 - 4/19/17: California Foster Youth Education SummitHyatt Regency in Sacramento

10/16/17 - 10/17/17: California College Pathways Blueprint for Success Conference: Sheraton Gateway LAX Hotel
AB 12 Question of the Week

Ridley-Thomas Introduces Bill to Fill Gap Between Children's Outpatient Mental Health & Hospitalization

Bill Proposed by Weber to Close the Loop on Student Exemptions for CalFresh Eligibility

A Review of the Process of Trying Youth as Adults Makes a Case for Stopping the Practice

Report Calls for Increased Investment in Child Welfare

Question of the Week

Q: I am a relative caregiver of two siblings in foster care. There seem to be a lot of new changes in place this year that may impact us. What do I need to know about the Resource Family Approval process? Where can I go for information about this? For the answer, follow this LINK.

Ridley-Thomas Introduces Bill to Fill Gap Between Children’s Outpatient Mental Health & Hospitalization

Assemblymember Sebastian Ridley-Thomas (D-Los Angeles) has introduced Assembly Bill 501, which would expand the definition of Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP), in order to create a state licensing category for children’s mental health crisis residential programs, a critically-needed service that is missing from the current continuum of care.
With 47 out of 58 counties lacking any child/adolescent psychiatric hospital inpatient beds for children under 12, and fewer than 70 beds statewide, children’s mental health crisis residential services are pressing for children whose treatment needs are not met by outpatient services.
According to the bill’s sponsor, the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, the creation of the licensing category is consistent with Medi-Cal Early Periodic Screening Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) Specialty Mental Health Services (SMHS) program standards and requirements, and this bill would fill a gap in regulations which prevent California from fully complying with the EPSDT SMHS entitlement for children and youth.
Services provided by programs licensed under the STRTP sub-category that would be created by AB 501, could be accessed through private health care plans, Medi-Cal managed care plans, and county Mental Health Plans. The bill would require such programs that plan to serve Medi-Cal beneficiaries to be certified to provide Medi-Cal SMHS by the Department of Health Care Services or by a county Mental Health Plan contractor.
To learn more about AB 501, download the fact sheet. To submit a letter of support for AB 501, download the sample letter and send to Assemblymember Ridley-Thomas’ office at, with cc’ed.

Bill Proposed by Weber to Close the Loop on Student Exemptions for CalFresh Eligibility

Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) has introduced Assembly Bill 214, which builds upon previous legislation to address college student hunger.
Existing federal law provides that students enrolled in post-secondary education at least half-time are not eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits -- known as CalFresh in California -- unless they meet one of several specified exemptions, including participating in specified employment training programs.
In 2014, AB 1930 (Skinner) passed, which established that certain educational programs, as determined by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), shall be considered employment training programs, thereby qualifying a student participating in one of those programs for an exemption. AB 1930 also required CDSS, in consultation with other organizations, to establish a protocol to identify and verify participation in educational programs, including self-initiated placements, that would qualify a student for an exemption.  
AB 214 would codify the policies identified in the AB 1930 workgroup, clarify education policies and definitions to simplify the administration of CalFresh for college students, and require the California Student Aid Commission to inform students of information that could help them verify their eligibility for CalFresh.

To submit a support letter for AB 214 to the Assembly Higher Education Committee where the bill is next being heard, download the sample letter and follow the submission instructions on the letter.

A Review of the Process of Trying Youth as Adults Makes a Case for Stopping the Practice

Human Impact Partners has released “Juvenile InJustice: Charging Youth as Adults is Ineffective, Biased, and Harmful”. This report provides a comprehensive look at the process of trying youth as adults, and makes recommendations.
In all 50 states, youth under age 18 can be tried in adult criminal court through various types of juvenile transfer laws, such as a judicial waiver in California, which allows youth as young as 14 to be tried as adults at the discretion of a juvenile court judge.
Key findings indicate that the justice system is biased against youth of color, with inequities persisting even after controlling for variables like offense severity and prior criminal record. Additionally, “tough on crime” laws criminalize youth and are ineffective, with studies finding higher recidivism rates among juveniles tried and sentenced in adult court than among youth charged with similar offenses in juvenile court.
The report also found that the adult court system ignores the environmental factors that affect adolescent behavior, whereas the juvenile court system is meant to focus on reasons for the youth’s behavior rather than just their guilt or innocence, with a juvenile court judge responsible for reviewing that youth’s case with their family, community, and future development in mind.
The report notes the exposure of incarcerated youth to physical abuse and violence, undermining youth health and well-being, with high rates of violence, abuse and overcrowding in detention facilities.
Families of incarcerated youth experience negative impacts, both from their exclusion from the adult court process, and the economic burden of legal fees, court costs, restitution payments, and visitation expenses.
With the passage of Proposition 57 in California, prosecutors may no longer directly file juveniles in adult court, and while an important step, minors can still be tried as adults through juvenile transfer. The report makes a number of recommendations; first and foremost, eliminating the practice of charging youth as adults under any circumstance. To download the report, follow this LINK.

Report Calls for Increased Federal Investment in Child Welfare

Child Trends has released a report with three research-based policy recommendations for executive and legislative officials in 2017, related to supporting youth in foster care.
In 2014, child welfare spending in the U.S. consisted of only 43 percent in federal funding, with 57 percent of funds coming from states/localities. Federal funding for child welfare services has dropped 16 percent between 2004 and 2014.
States have used flexible funding sources such as the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) to supplement declining federal Title IV-E funds, but competing demands for SSBG and TANF funds create ongoing uncertainty for state child welfare agencies.
The report calls for a minimum of stopping the downward trend in federal child welfare spending, and at best, creating a stable and sufficient source of funding to provide quality services and supports for families involved with the child welfare system.
Also discussed are advancements in ensuring that youth in foster care have access to health care. Through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, youth aging out of foster care are able to stay on Medicaid until age 26. Referencing a combination of heightened physical and mental health needs with lack of a permanent family or support network making foster youth particularly vulnerable to poor health outcomes, the report recommends maintaining this access.
Also recommended is monitoring the educational stability and improving outcomes for students in foster care through states’ implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act. States are working to implement provisions that require transportation to a student’s home school whenever possible and a seamless transfer of student records when a student changes schools. To download the report, follow this LINK.
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