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

Now - 5/12/17: CCR Child & Family Teaming Orientations being held throughout the state 

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

3/17/17: NCHE Webinar - Paving the Way to College for Students Experiencing Homelessness

3/22/17: Alliance for Children's Rights Webinar - Educational Needs of Foster Youth & Youth Experiencing Homelessness: McKinney-Vento, ESSA, & Beyond

4/13/17: JBAY Webinar - Foster Youth & Financial Aid, Part II: After the FAFSA

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

State Clarifies: NMDs Exempted from Student Restrictions on Food Stamp Eligibility

Senators Mitchell & Lara Introduce Bills to Protect Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth

What Happens After the FAFSA? How Foster Youth Secure & Maintain Financial Aid

Father Engagement = Better Child Outcomes, So How Can Child Welfare Support This?

Question of the Week

Q:  I am a CASA with a youth who is facing some decisions regarding her permanency plan. I understand there have been recent changes related to Continuum of Care Reform, impacting foster care placement.

My question is, has CCR changed AB 12 eligibility at all -- particularly in regards to the age of establishing guardianship and eligibility for extended Kin-GAP payments? For the answer, follow this LINK.

State Clarifies: NMDs Exempted from Student Restrictions on Food Stamp Eligibility

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has released All County Letter (ACL) 17-05, providing clarifications about CalFresh student eligibility rules, key definitions, and an expanded list of programs that qualify a student for an exemption from the student eligibility rule.
Current regulations indicate that individuals enrolled at least half-time, as defined by the institution, in post-secondary education are ineligible to participate in CalFresh unless they are working at least 20 hours per week, or they satisfy one of the exemption criteria.
Assembly Bill 1930 mandated that CDSS establish protocol to identify and verify all potential exemptions to the student eligibility rule through the existing student eligibility workgroup which was established to improve CalFresh access among students. This workgroup identified several exemptions relative to current and former foster youth.
A previous ACL established participation in Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs and Extended Opportunities Programs & Services (EOPS) as an eligible exemption. Several additional programs now fall under the exemption category of “participation in a state funded program that increases employability”, including participation in Extended Foster Care, receipt of a Chafee Grant, and participation in a number of campus support programs which are listed in the ACL.
A number of other existing exemptions also may apply to current and former foster youth, such as those approved for work study for the current term and anticipate working during the term, certain parenting youth, and those mentally or physically unfit for employment.

John Burton Advocates for Youth has updated its Frequently Asked Questions document on CalFresh and Non-Minor Dependents with the expanded information on student exemptions, which can be downloaded by following this LINK. For a complete description of the student exemptions, information about verification procedures and a sample checklist to identify potential exemptions, download the ACL by following this LINK.

Senators Mitchell & Lara Introduce Bills to Protect Juvenile Justice-Involved Youth

Senators Ricardo Lara and Holly Mitchell have introduced Senate Bills 190, 394 and 395 to protect the rights and well-being of youth involved with the juvenile justice system.
SB 190 would end the assessment and collection of administrative fees against the families of youth in the juvenile justice system. Although a handful of large counties have recently discontinued the practice, most California counties still assess and collect fees related to detention, supervision, electronic monitoring, drug testing, investigation, and representation by a public defender.
According to the bill’s sponsor, the Western Center on Law and Poverty, most youth in the juvenile system come from low-income families that should qualify for fee reductions or waivers, but jurisdictions often pursue collection indiscriminately, and some counties pursue juvenile fees from families whose children are later found innocent of any charges. To submit a support letter for SB 190, download the sample letter.
SB 394 would make youth sentenced life in prison without the possibility of parole (LWOP) eligible for Youth Offender Parole, bringing California into compliance with the recent Montgomery U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held the mandatory sentences of LWOP unconstitutional for individuals who were minors at the time of their criminal conviction. The bill would allow the approximate 290 juveniles with LWOP cases to be eligible for an initial parole hearing after 25 years of incarceration.
According to the bill’s sponsor, Human Rights Watch, in California, African-American youth are sentenced to LWOP at a rate that is 18 times that of white youth, and in 56 percent of the cases in which a youth sentenced to LWOP had an adult codefendant, the adult got a lesser sentence than the youth. To learn more about SB 394, download the fact sheet. To submit a support letter for SB 394, download the sample letter.
SB 395 would allow a youth under age 18 to consult with an attorney before waiving their basic constitutional “Miranda” rights in a situation of custodial interrogation by the police. Many states have taken legislative action on this issue, however in California, children – no matter how young – can waive their constitutional rights. To learn more about SB 395, download the fact sheet. To submit a support letter for SB 395, download the sample letter.

What Happens After the FAFSA? How Foster Youth Secure & Maintain Financial Aid

A 2015 study found that while more than 80 percent of foster youth in college in California received the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, only about half received a Pell Grant although almost all youth eligible for a BOG Fee Waiver are also eligible for the Pell Grant.
Failure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is one reason why foster youth do not receive the financial aid they are eligible for. However, many foster youth do not receive certain types of aid due to administrative barriers that occur after submitting the FAFSA, and some foster youth lose their financial aid after receiving it.
Last fall, John Burton Advocates for Youth hosted a webinar on the steps leading up to completing the FAFSA. This webinar’s sequel, “Foster Youth & Financial Aid, Part II: After the FAFSA” will be held on April 13th from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. This will be the sixth web seminar in the Post-Secondary Education Training Series. Previous web seminars in this series can be viewed by following this LINK.
The April 13th training will walk attendees through the steps from the time a current or former foster youth completes the FAFSA until their first disbursement of aid, including the verification process.
Additionally, the training will focus on how to support youth in maintaining Satisfactory Academic Progress in order to retain financial aid, how to avoid a financial aid overpayment, and how to handle an overpayment should a foster youth encounter this. To register for the web seminar, follow this LINK. To download a flyer, follow this LINK.

Father Engagement = Better Child Outcomes, So How Can Child Welfare Support This?

The Center for the Study of Social Policy has released a report, “Changing Systems & Practice to Improve Outcomes for Young Fathers, their Children & their Families”. The report offers a myriad of supporting data that speaks to the positive impact of fathers on healthy child development, thriving families and communities.

However, relatively little national attention has been paid to the importance of engaging young fathers under age 26, particularly young fathers who are involved in child welfare systems.
The report offers policy recommendations for child welfare systems, including developing a father-inclusive organizational culture, requiring the identification of young fathers as early as possible during pregnancy, and issuing policy and practice guidance that removes barriers to father engagement and creates opportunities for active and positive involvement in children’s lives.  
The report highlights a program in California, Alameda County Father Corps, a partnership between the Public Health and Social Services departments to form a county-wide team of male service providers working with fathers to increase parenting skills and working with local organizations to advance their father-friendly principles.
Other policy recommendations include requiring the exploration of coparenting with young fathers and providing referrals for coparenting supports where appropriate and safe to do so; ensuring access to equitable services for young fathers that are developmentally and trauma-informed; and requiring that when young fathers are identified as undocumented, caseworkers develop a strategy and work with immigration attorneys to obtain legal recognition of parenthood and legal status and incorporate it with case plans and transition services.
Further, the report recommends requiring the engagement and involvement of incarcerated young fathers in case planning, including the facilitation of meaningful contact or visits with their children; and
ensuring that the relationship between young offending fathers and their children is supported and maintained unless it is not safe for the child and mother.
The report also offers data recommendations for agencies and jurisdictions to improve their services for young fathers. To download the report, follow this LINK.
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