Yesterday, California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed Senate Bill 528, a bill that mandates the collection of data about pregnant and parenting foster youths in state.
The bill will lead to the first true accounting of how many pregnant and parenting youth are in the foster care system in California, according to the John Burton Foundation.
“SB 528 will help end the intergenerational cycle of child abuse that is currently in place,” said John Burton, Chair of the John Burton Foundation, which was a co-sponsor of the measure. “It will give young parents in foster care, and their children, the opportunity to live with safety and economic security. We thank the Governor for his support of this important legislation.”
The bill has two key parts:
- The California Department of Social Services would be required to collect data on the number of parenting youth in foster care, their ethnicity, placement type, county of origin and length of stay in the foster care system
- Information would be collected about whether or not the child of the dependent parent has been placed in foster care.
Burton believes this bill will improve the lives of young parents by keeping track of how many children re-enter the system and finding ways to send the cycle of abuse and neglect.
Early versions of the bill, which was authored by State Sen. Leland Yee (D), authorized more support services to parenting foster youth. Subsidized child care for the teen parents was included, along with state-mandated sexual development education to all youth in foster care starting at age 12. The bill also required specialized conferences for pregnant youth in foster care to ensure they have access to services, including prenatal care.
President Barack Obama promoted a small federally-funded project around the same services in his 2014 proposal to Congress.
Amy Lemley, policy director at the John Burton Foundation, called the removal of those provisions “part of the policy making process. While we’re disappointed, we’re really excited about what is inside the bill.”
Ryann Blackshere is a staff reporter with the Chronicle of Social Change.