SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In Santa Clara County, many young adults transitioning out of foster care will now receive financial assistance and mentoring through the county’s “Universal Basic Income” program.
The pilot program will offer a $1,000 stipend every month to 24-year-olds who will no longer be eligible for foster care assistance.
The program was approved last month by Santa Clara Board of Supervisors allotting $900,000 in funding through the county’s general fund, assisting 72 former foster youth.
“Youth that are 21 through about 24 maybe 25 coming out of foster families who are now transitioning to the wide world out there are really in struggle right now — they have struggled for years,” said Supervisor David Cortese.
“We’re very excited .. I think it’s going to empower them and give them the ability to start making better decisions and good decisions about how to invest their own money.”
The idea of using Universal Basic Income for Santa Clara County foster young adults who are transitioning out the system was brought forward by Supervisor Cortese.
Supervisor Cortese tells KRON4 the idea of UBI was inspired after speaking with Gisele Huff, president of San Francisco-based nonprofit Gerald Huff Fund for Humanity — a group dedicated to the concept of Universal Basic Income as a transitional solution to current societal issues in memory of Huffs’ late son.
“UBI has a moral dimension, it has a very strong economic dimension and in fact, it’s going to be the only thing that’s going to work now,” said Huff.
“One thing that it allows young people to do is to pursue what they’re interested in rather than be a doctor because daddy said so.”
Santa Clara County will pilot the program for at least a year with 72 young adults set to receive their first installments sometime this week.
No strings attached
In an effort to give much needed financial assistance to the young adults in the program, the county is not requiring any additional steps to be completed to receive the $,1000 a month.
“We’re not going to tell them what they have to do or how they have to do it specifically because that’s arguably been a failure of the system when we start getting too restrictive about what people should do with their social services benefits.”
As the program was in the process of being approved in March by the county — the COVID-19 pandemic hit and efforts immediately transformed to assist its community.
Despite being told by the county that it will not be pursuing any new initiatives, Supervisor Cortese continued to advocate for the program citing the benefits it can have to foster young adults amid the pandemic.
“I can understand why certain work load needs to be set aside or pushed back because of COVID-19 but this program is exactly the opposite,” said Supervisor Cortese.
“If there is ever a group that needed us to rush a program together instead of delaying it … it’s this transitional foster youth groups.”