First Place for Youth
Aug 31, 2022
In early June 2022, the California State Legislature released its joint budget, including $34 M per year for AB 1651, our top legislative priority. The funds will expand eligibility and funding in all California counties for the Transitional Housing Plus Program (THP-Plus) from 24 months to 36 months and raising the upper age eligibility from 24 to 25 years. Championed by Assemblymember Phil Ting of San Francisco, John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) and the TAY Committee of the California Alliance of Child and Family Services, co-sponsored the bill. The California Alliance of Child and Family Services is co-chaired by First Place Chief Policy & Strategy Officer Jane Schroeder.
The origin of the bill was inspired in part by the findings in First Place’s Raising the Bar research and policy brief and webinar, which highlighted the value of extending foster care to help young adults reach key education and employment milestones. First Place helped draft and advocate for the bill, and our own My First Place™ program alum and current staff member Maya Meza spoke at the Child Welfare Roundtable in April.
In California, after exiting foster care, one in four youth experiences homelessness before the age of 24 (Source: California Coalition for Youth). Since 2001, California’s Transitional Housing Plus Program (THP-Plus) program has provided housing and supportive services to former foster and probation youth ages 18 through 23. Delivered at the county level by independent providers like First Place for Youth, the program was designed to give young people an extended “runway” to independence. With access to stable housing and dedicated support in education, employment, and life-skills, these young people coming out of foster care have more time to identify and pursue their own paths to purpose and long-term success.
Over the years, program capacity limits have prevented eligible youth from enrolling. As of June 2021, 473 youth in California were waiting to enter the THP-Plus program. Soaring statewide housing costs coupled with unchanged county reimbursement rates for services have made it difficult for providers to procure and fund additional housing units, leading to massive county waiting lists of eligible but unserved youth. These new funds will allow providers to secure more housing to serve more young adults and will expand services to many underserved counties. Our policy team has also focused this year on framing up successful implementation at the county level of last year’s wins, leading to sizable increases for THP+ program services in Alameda and San Francisco, with increases expected soon in Los Angeles and Santa Clara.
We are incredibly proud of our First Place team and partners’ advocacy efforts. For three years running, we have advocated to expand THP-Plus availability and payment rates to serve more youth and close the gap between public and private funding for those programs and each year we have secured key legislative and budget wins.
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