State Sen. Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announced Thursday the Senate unanimously approved Senate Bill 219 (SB 219), a measure that will create a pilot program for foster youth to receive grants for extracurricular and enrichment activities. SB 219 will now go to the Assembly for consideration.
“I feel a very personal connection to this bill. The Antelope Valley is home to one in three of LA County’s foster youth,” said Wilk, R-Santa Clarita. “I have had the opportunity to talk with many former and current foster youth who have shared their opinions on what would make a real difference in their lives. Participating in extracurricular activities was one such area. These are kids – the more stability and normalcy we can provide to them while in foster care will pay off in the long run.”
SB 219 seeks to make foster youth in four counties eligible to receive up to $500 for extracurricular and enrichment activities. This grant would allow students to participate in activities they otherwise would be unable to do, such as sports, STEM programs, graduation activities, arts, music, dance, and theater.
The bill is sponsored by the Youth Law Center, who have worked tirelessly on foster youth issues. Earlier this year, they released a study regarding the benefits of enrichment activities on foster youth. Participation in such activities is linked to young people building resilience, improving self-efficacy, and even counteracting the harmful effects of trauma.
SB 219 builds on the “Foster Youth Bill of Rights” that the California Legislature passed in 2001. While extracurricular activities are specifically mentioned in the bill, there has not been any funding allocated to provide them for foster youth.
“The statistics for foster youth school success rates in California are very bleak,” said Wilk. “This bill will enhance the lives of foster youth, help them succeed in school and build a robust resume when applying for secondary education. We need to make our California foster youth a priority this year.”