Recognizing that those leaving the Foster Care system are among the most vulnerable in Santa Clara County, Supervisor Dave Cortese on Tuesday, August 13, called for a pilot program to provide cash payments to help 18- to 21-year-olds navigate economic hardships and create pathways to success.
The Board unanimously approved moving forward with a proposal for the pilot program that will return to the Board through the Children, Seniors and Families Committee. The proposed pilot would be the first in the nation to target this vulnerable population with universal basic income payments. “Youth transitioning out of the foster care system are particularly in need of and deserve robust support,” said Supervisor Cortese. “Creating a pilot program to provide a basic income to these youth will allow the County to better support their transition out of our foster care system and to help them find a stable path to independence.”
Studies have shown that these payments can reduce poverty, improve health and increase educational opportunities, and other pilot programs, including one that the City of Stockton, have proven successful. In Stockton, 130 residents are receiving payments of $500 a month for 18 months to help ensure their survivals.
“While universal basic income has applicability to the entire population of a region or the nation, gaining a more thorough understanding of how it benefits targeted, vulnerable groups such as transitioning youth is critically important,” said Gisele Huff, President of the Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity, a Universal Basic Income advocacy organization. “Young people who leave the foster system are set adrift in a world changing so rapidly that even the rest of us have a problem finding our footing. I commend Supervisor Cortese for his initiative and the board for approving the search for innovative solutions to the societal challenges in Santa Clara County, and beyond.”
To augment the cost of the program, Supervisor Cortese asked that the County explore partnering with philanthropic organizations and leverage other existing funding streams to support the needs of youth transitioning out of the foster care system.Supervisor Cortese’s proposal asks County Counsel and Administration to return to the Board on August 27, and address in their report:
• The number of young people who could be included in such a program
• The size of the payment needed to cover participants’ basic needs and recommendations regarding the overall budget for the pilot
• How such a program would be aligned with and augment other support and services available to these young people
• How such a program could best be evaluated