While California’s foster care system has made important strides in recent years for older youth, one area where it continues to struggle is post -secondary achievement. In California, foster youth are 29% less likely than their peers to persist at least one year in community college. By age 26, just four percent of former foster youth have obtained a 4-year degree, compared to 36 percent of same-age young adults.
Without a college degree, foster youth have a much lower likelihood of long-term economic security. The median weekly earnings of an individual with a bachelor’s degree are almost double those of a worker with only a high-school diploma. Opportunities for individuals without some form of post-secondary credential continue to diminish over time. Between 2008 and 2016 the U.S. economy lost 5.6 million jobs that require only a high school diploma or less while gaining 9.7 million jobs requiring a post-secondary credential.
In recognition of this reality, the California legislature adopted Senate Bill 12 (SB 12), which went into effect January 1, 2018 and included a requirement of child welfare and juvenile probation agencies that the case plans of all foster youth aged 16 or older identify who will assist the youth with applications for college and financial aid. The California Department of Social Services(CDSS) issued ACL 18-104 on September 12, 2018 which provides additional details regarding how to implement the law.