Saturday, February 24 , 2018, 6:12 pm | Fair 58º

 
 
 
 

Jim Roberts: Good News for California’s Foster Youths

Proposed budget restores funding for Transitional Housing Placement Plus Program

In February, I wrote a column informing readers that the state departments of Social Services and Finance had proposed a $19 million cut in funding for the Transitional Housing Placement Plus Program (THP+), which equaled 60 percent of the program’s budget. To say that the cut would have drastically altered services would have been an understatement.

Jim Roberts
Jim Roberts

As previously mentioned, the cut would have resulted in the state sending 1,000 foster youths to the streets as a budget-cutting maneuver, in addition to closing the door on services to thousands of others. As a program that provides supportive housing services to former foster youths for up to two years after they have aged out of the foster care system, THP+ is critical in the fight against homeless for our state’s foster children.

On to the good news: On Feb. 25, the California Department of Finance, at the direction of Gov. Jerry Brown, restored the $19 million to the THP+ budget in the proposed budget. The department’s official public statement said to the effect that THP+ is extremely successful in creating positive outcomes for its participants and long-term public savings, and should therefore not be cut.

The news got even better when, on March 3, the Bicameral Budget Conference Committee voted to fully fund the THP+ budget as recommended by the governor. The voice of THP+ participants, former participants, providers, along with a plethora of other interested and influential people was loudly heard.

Speaking of the voice of transitional age youth, it was remarkable to see this population of foster youth work to save funding for future THP+ participants. These testimonies are best summarized through the testimony of one young Hispanic man. He stood before the committee waving a document over his head, repeating, “This is my tax return. I am now a taxpayer and no longer a tax-taker, and I am proud of that fact!”

Also important, state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo, and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian, R-San Luis Obispo, weighed in 100 percent in support of THP+. Another major voice in this effort was former president pro tem of the state Senate John Burton. Burton is without a doubt the biggest champion for foster and former foster youths this state has had.

Is it a done deal? No, but it’s closer. There will need to be a floor vote by both the Senate and the Assembly, which is parliamentary routine at this point. The biggest obstacle is getting the tax extension initiative on the ballot and having it pass. Otherwise, it is “scorched earth,” and all bets are off as we will see the wholesale dismantling of public schools, public safety and health and human services.

So, let’s hope for the best and keep moving this agenda forward!

— Jim Roberts is CEO of the Family Care Network.

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