Governor Brown Signs Budget Increasing Funding for Dependency Counsel and Investing in Foster Youth

June 29, 2017

This week, Governor Jerry Brown signed the 2017-18 state budget, which includes significant investments that will improve outcomes for our clients and their families.

Dependency Counsel Representation
The state budget includes a $22 million augmentation for dependency counsel. This important increase will help to reduce the crushing caseloads of CLC attorneys, as well as attorneys throughout the state representing abused and neglected children and youth in the foster care/dependency court. This success is the result of over five years of hard work and advocacy before the Legislature and the Governor. We are thrilled to finally bring it home this year. CLC Executive Director Leslie Heimov was truly relentless in her commitment to bringing awareness to the critical issue of overwhelming caseloads for dependency counsel and to making this budget item a reality. Thank you to the coalition of advocates - including Children's Advocacy Institute and many others – who supported this budget increase. And thank you to our champions in the Legislature, including Senator Holly Mitchell and Assembly Member Mark Stone, and Governor Jerry Brown for demonstrating a true commitment to California's foster children and their families.

Child Care for Foster Caregivers and Parenting Youth
The Governor’s budget includes $31 million to create the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, funding which will allow counties to provide caregivers and parenting youth with immediate access to up to six months of child care services. This will help address the systemic problem of a lack of foster placements for young children because the families that want to care for them work outside of their homes and cannot access child care. The funding will also provide caregivers with the assistance of navigators to help find longer-term child care options beyond the first six months, and counties will provide trauma-informed training for child care workers so they can help address the specific needs of children who have experienced abuse and/or neglect. CLC is proud to have supported this effort along with a coalition led by the Alliance for Children’s Rights, Children Now, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In addition to increasing the pool of caregivers, this important funding will greatly assist CLC clients who are parents themselves and desperately need child care in order to reach their case plan goals and provide a stable home for their young family.

Reproductive Health and Pregnancy Prevention Among Youth in Foster Care
CLC was part of a coalition led by John Burton Advocates for Youth who successfully advocated to increase state funding by $2.8 million to reduce the disproportionately high rate of unintended pregnancy among foster youth in California. This funding was accompanied by Senator Connie Leyva’s SB 245, a bill co-sponsored by CLC, John Burton Advocates for Youth, National Center for Youth Law, and Black Women for Wellness. The funding is accompanied by new mandates that foster youth receive the state-mandated comprehensive sexual health curriculum provided in public schools, requires social workers to inform foster youth of their reproductive rights and how to access reproductive health care, and requires child welfare professionals and caregivers to be trained on how to engage with youth about healthy sexual development and the reproductive rights and services available to foster youth.

Thank you to the many organizations and individuals who played a role in ensuring that these critical issues received funding in the state budget!