Wilk's foster youth enrichment grant bill unanimously passes policy committee

SACRAMENTO – Today, Senator Scott Wilk, representing the 21st Senate District, announces the Senate Committee on Human Serves 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.

“This past weekend, I had the opportunity to meet with a roundtable of foster youth in my district to discuss their priorities, as well as my proposal to put extra-curricular activities within reach,” said Wilk. “I feel a very personal connection to this bill as these young people told compelling stories about what this funding would have meant to them. The Antelope Valley is home to 1 out of every 3rd foster youth in LA county. We want to provide as much stability as we can to youth who often are in situations of extreme instability.”

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 and help them build a robust resume when applying for secondary education. We need to make our California foster youth a priority this year.”

SB 219 will next be heard in the Appropriations Committee, hearing date pending.