Aiming to keep foster youth from going hungry when they age out of care, Los Angeles County officials voted Tuesday to put measures in place to make sure food stamps are on offer.
Supervisor Hilda Solis recommended instituting a policy mandating that youth transitioning out of the county’s care have a CalFresh application pending 90 days before they exit and during any placement change.
“No one should have to go hungry in L.A. County,” Solis said. “My action today expands the county’s outreach to some of our most vulnerable populations — youth who are in extended foster care or who have exited the foster care system.”
Only about one-third of former California foster youth ever accessed CalFresh food benefits by age 19, according to a 2016 University of Chicago study.
Supervisor Sheila Kuehl, who co-authored Solis’ motion, said one of every three “transition age youth” coming out of foster care skip meals or go without eating for a day because they can’t afford food.
“Many current and former foster youth are eligible for CalFresh, which could help them pay for food, but they often don’t even know they can apply,” Kuehl said.
“This motion, in conjunction with our housing motion last week which will expand housing opportunities for these young adults, will help put them on a path to a stable and successful adulthood instead of hunger and homelessness.”
Eligibility for CalFresh benefits is made on a case by case basis and is based on income and expenses, among other factors, including student status.
The board also directed departments to provide more training for county workers and community partners to help foster youth ages 18-24 apply for benefits.
County departments were also charged with tracking eligibility and usage data and reporting back to the board quarterly.