Research Shows Strategic Use of Evidence Led to AB 12’s Passage Despite State Budget Deficit

A research article on the use of evidence in passing Assembly Bill 12 (Beall, Bass), The California Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2010 has been published, written by Jennifer Mosley and Katherine Gipson with the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. Mosley has worked closely with Dr. Mark Courtney and his team at Chapin Hall on AB 12 research, and was one of the authors of the legislative history report preceding the California Youth Transitions to Adulthood Study.

The authors tell the story, beginning with California stakeholder involvement with the passage of the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, paving the way for AB 12. Passage of the federal bill was followed by close collaboration between AB 12’s co-authors (former Assemblymember Jim Beall and former Assembly Speaker Karen Bass) and organizational cosponsors, that began crafting the state legislation shortly after the passage of the federal legislation.

Three important steps are outlined that ultimately led to the successful passage of AB 12, each making use of a certain type of evidence. First, research evidence was used to lay the groundwork, describing the negative outcomes experienced by many youth who aged out of foster care.

Second, short- and long-term cost concerns had to be neutralized by cost-benefit analysis and uptake rate estimates in order to get the bill through the appropriations committee, particularly during the state’s budget crisis. This was achieved through opportunities made available by the federal bill to draw down federal matching funds for state-subsidized guardianship programs, as well as a handful of compromises reached to cut cost.

After making it through appropriations, legislators had to be motivated to act, thus shifting focus to garnering broad bipartisan support, making lawmakers “champions” instead of just “supporters” of the policy. This was achieved through testimonial evidence from former foster youth. To read the article, follow this LINK.