Foster Youth Benefit from Basic Income Pilot Program
Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors approves a new basic income pilot program to benefit foster youth. The project was initially approved in May with the hopes of helping foster youth within Santa Clara County. This is the first basic income program of its kind in the United States. The goal is to reverse some of the trends seen amongst foster youth and help support them into adulthood.
To qualify for the program, foster youth must be Santa Clara County residents enrolled in school and showing financial need. While the additional income helps provides an additional income of $1,000 per month, this is not enough to cover all living expenses.
The Pivotal scholarship program benefits 72 foster youth between the ages of 21 and 24. Due to the high cost of living in Santa Clara County, there is a priority given to those closer to 24. This program is in direct support of the 89% of foster youth who want to attend college. Currently, only 15% of foster youth start college with only 3% completing their degree.
Reducing Harm within Aged-Out Foster Youth
With more than 50% of millennials still living at home. The prospects for gen Zers are looking even grimmer. The pilot program is helping increase the success rate amongst those who face hard choices, whether to pay rent or to study for a career and a stronger future.
With the majority of those who entered the foster care system lacking in familiar support or coming from families who themselves struggle with poverty. How as a society do we offer true support once these youths exit the system.
The current statistic for emancipated foster youth are bleak. By age 18, 25% of foster youth are homeless, 20% are incarcerated, and 50% drop out of high school.
Programs like Santa Clara’s Pivotal scholar help bridge an equity gap. It allows those youths who’ve aged out of the system to focus more on school and vocational training and less on finding money.
In addition to monetary support, the Pivotal scholar program offers financial literacy training. Educators teach foster youth about opening a checking and savings account. Teaching the values of understanding interest rates, how to interpret credit reports, and what identity theft looks like.
In conclusion, we hope to see more counties and states making moves to create programs that benefit foster youth. While it is easy to be critical of these young adults. The truth is, we are continuing to fail them by not offering more safety nets once they exit foster care.
For those interested in helping foster youth in your area. Please consider donating towards the Family Fellowship program HERE.