By Melissa Johns, Executive Vice President
As election day approaches, all eyes are on the candidates vying for your vote. Amidst all that campaign noise, we want to shine light on someone who isn’t looking for your vote this year: California State Senator Jim Beall. After three decades in public service, Senator Beall has completed his final term representing District 15. As a fierce champion for foster youth, he’s been unwavering in his commitment to see children and youth in the child welfare system receive the support they need to thrive.
In 2010, he authored Assembly Bill 12, landmark legislation that extends the benefits of eligible foster care youth beyond age 18 to 21. This extension allows thousands of foster care youth to obtain housing and other services, allowing them to attend college or job-training programs. The bill also provides support to relatives who assume foster care duties, recognition of how family and permanency play such important roles in a child’s life during a period of upheaval.
To increase the college enrollment, achievement, and graduation rates of foster youth, in 2018 he introduced legislation to expand foster youths’ access to financial aid by extending their Cal Grant eligibility. Referencing what he called a ‘common-sense bill’ for foster youth, Senator Beall said, “Foster youth are some of the hardest working people I’ve met, and I am committed to working just as hard to support them and expand their opportunities for success.” While this bill wasn’t passed into law, we commend Senator Beall for his recognition of the critical role financial aid plays in the ability of foster youth to earn a college degree.
In 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic created upheaval for our most vulnerable communities, Beall was back at it, fighting to create a safety net for foster youth. He wrote Senate Bill 912, to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and establish standard procedures for future states of emergency, ensuring that foster youth remain safe and have access to essential services. This bill received unanimous support in both the Assembly and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Newsom on September 28.
Pivotal wants to thank Senator Beall for his decades-long commitment to providing opportunities and support to transition-age foster youth. We applaud his legacy as a friend and ally of foster youth.