Turlock high school student Miranda Scoles is one of the approximately 5,000 foster youth in California and 40 in Stanislaus County who turned 18 this year, automatically aging-out of the system. In the past, Scoles would have had to face the world without financial support or the help of a social worker.
But thanks to the California Fostering Connections to Success Act (Assembly Bill 12), she will remain in foster care and receive services and support until age 20.
“I honestly think that I wouldn’t graduate (without AB 12),” Scoles said. “I’d probably be back on the streets.”
Under AB 12, youth will continue in extended care unless they opt out and will be expected to meet certain criteria, including working towards a high school diploma or GED, being employed at least 80 hours a month, going to college, or participating in a vocational or employment program.
The goal of AB 12: improve the outcomes for foster youth.
“More foster youth that have been abused or neglected will take a more positive path in life; less teen pregnancy; fewer people in jail — that’s the hope,” said Nenita Dean, a manager with Stanislaus County's Community Services Agency.
Scoles will be able to stay in her current foster home while preparing for her future as an independent adult. Foster youth who choose to remain in foster care after 18, considered non-minor dependents, have a number of living arrangement options. They can live in the home of an approved relative, a non-related extended family member or a legal guardian, in a group home or with a licensed foster family home.
A new housing option through AB 12 is Supervised Independent Living Placement. This can be an apartment with or without a roommate, or a room-and-board living arrangement, such as a college dorm. These placements have to be approved and supervised by the county, and young adults may be able to receive foster care payments directly if they choose this living arrangement.
“(AB 12) gives them more opportunities to learn how to be self-sufficient while being provided case management and a stable home. If homeless, how can you focus on getting a job, being in school or being self-sufficient? At 18, it’s a young age, you’re out there trying to navigate the world,” said Dean.
Along with the financial support and educational and vocational services, AB 12 also keeps foster youth connected with the people who have been helping them throughout the years.
“That’s what keeps me going to school,” said Scoles, “knowing that I have all these people around me who can see where I’ve been and where I’m going. I care about their opinions and what they think.”
Scoles is especially proud that she is a member of California Youth Connection, a foster youth advocacy organization and one of the sponsors of AB 12. The Stanislaus County chapter of CYC is holding a fundraising dinner at 6 p.m. on March 12 at the county agricultural center, 3800 Cornucopia Way, Modesto. Tickets for the chicken dinner are $15 each and can be purchased by calling 558-2354. During the dinner, CYC members will give a presentation on upcoming legislation that effect foster youth.
In the future, Scoles plans to continue fighting for foster youth rights, while furthering her education in cosmetology and juvenile justice.
To learn more about AB 12 visit, www.after18ca.org.
To contact Kristina Hacker, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 634-9141 ext. 2004.