Adoption bill targets teenage foster youth
State Senator Carole Migden and Mayor Gavin Newsom announced yesterday
San Francisco will receive $750,000 in state funding to help older
in the county's system find permanent homes.
By Elizabeth Pfeffer
July 7, 2006
Rubya Domingo, 18, was recently released from San Francisco's
foster care system. From age 12 she lived with a handful of foster
families, her last placement - for just three months - was the
only home she heard "I love you" in.
A new bill by California State Senator Carole Migden (D-San Francisco),
is the first of its kind aiming to match older children with adoptive
parents in healthy, permanent homes.
Domingo, an advocate for California Youth Connection, an organization
promoting policy change by and for foster youth, wishes she had
been afforded the same opportunity.
"I thought usually it's just younger kids who get adopted,"
The Adoption of Hard-to-Place Teens bill will divide $4 million
of California general funds between four cities to assist with
identifying candidates, pre and post-adoptive services, training,
counseling and respite care.
Mayor Gavin Newsom and State Senator Migden announced at a news
conference Thursday that San Francisco will receive $750,000 of
the allocation and match 25 percent, totaling almost $1 million.
Los Angeles, which has the highest percentage of foster youth
in California, will receive $1.2 million, and the other two cities
will be selected after a bidding process.
"It's one thing to focus on foster care and help placements
and adoptions for people 11 and younger, it's altogether different
to focus those efforts on teenagers," Mayor Newsom said.
About 2,200 children are in San Francisco's foster care system.
According to a City study, 59 percent of all emancipated foster
youth were living below the poverty line in 2003.
"It's not just about the placements, it's also about our
responsibility to these young adults once they're emancipated
out of the system," Mayor Newsom said.
Older, single and gay adults are encouraged to pursue adoption.
"There's a new kind of older parent," State Senator
Migden said. "As baby boomers begin to retire and change
the fabric and the social morays of this time, there's a willingness
to want to pitch in, to do something different, to open their
homes to form relationships.
"With life extending to 85, or so, folks that retire have
a lot of time."
In San Francisco sexual preference cannot hurt one's chances
of adopting, according to Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Family
Builders By Adoption, one of the community partners involved with
seeing out the bill's expectations.
Jill Jacobs, Executive Director of Family Builders By Adoption
The organization works with candidates through roughly six months
of assessments to determine whether they're qualified to adopt.
"In the Bay Area more than half are LGBT single parents,"
Most outreach is done through grass roots recruitment.
Domingo, still in touch with her last foster mother, hopes the
program will succeed in helping teenage foster youth find homes
before they become emancipated.