LA Foster Youth Get Free Cellphones
LA foster youth get free cellphones thanks to The California Public Utilities Commission. Witness LA reports that Los Angeles foster youth ages 13 through 26 will have access to free smartphones with unlimited voice, text, data, and a hotspot for internet access.
Why This Matters
The majority of current and aged out foster youth do not have consistent access to technology. This includes, cell phones, laptops, and other internet connected devices. The digital divide can add to the struggles and feelings of disconnection that youth in care experience. The lack of consistent internet and technology is a major safety, social, educational, and employment concerns to foster youth advocates.
Pilot Program Information
The California Public Utilities Commission voted to allocate $22 million into providing smartphones to the over 30k current and aged out foster youth in LA. Witness LA writes,
“The cost to the state of giving approximately 33,000 California foster youth the phones and two years of free service is slightly over $22 million. If approved, the iFoster staff, as the program’s administrators, would work with the various county child welfare agencies to identify the eligible kids under their care. The iFoster people would also train the relevant county staff and would help create sign-up events that kids, social workers, and or caretakers, could attend.”
The Program’s Integrity
In addition, to helping foster youth avoid the digital desert the program offers new data. Nonprofit iFoster proposes to measure the results of the two year program but tracking academic, academics and employment situation. On a social wellness level, tracking the overall wellbeing and social interactions. This information is to be measure by self-disclosed surveys, delivered quarterly via text to participating youth.
In conclusion, Foster Love - Together We Rise is excited hear more about this program in the months to come. With the launch date pending for early April 2020 more information can be found on iFoster.org.