Program extended for six months; recipients of $1,000 monthly stipend report increased financial security and ability to meet life goals
SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF.— The County of Santa Clara is extending its Basic Income Pilot program aimed at helping young adults transition out of the foster care system for six months to further study its effectiveness – and to continue helping participants transition to self-sufficiency as the pandemic ebbs and more opportunities become available.
The innovative “Universal Basic Income” initiative was the first in the nation to specifically benefit those exiting the foster system when it was approved by the County of Santa Clara Board of Supervisors in June 2020. Under the pilot program, 72 young adults aging out of the foster care system began receiving a monthly stipend of $1,000 for 12 months, with the first payments going out last July.
On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors approved adding an additional $500,000 to the initial $900,000 allocation to continue payments to the original recipients. Included in the new allotment are incentives to take advantage of financial mentorship offered through the program, and to complete surveys that will help the County gauge the efficacy of the trial.
Program manager Melanie Jimenez Perez said extending the pilot is critical for many participants who are seeing a new day dawning after a year of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Up to this point, the funding was critical intervention to prevent youth from destabilizing,” said Jimenez Perez. “It allowed many to stay in housing or stay in school. Now, the focus of the extra time granted by the extension is for them to really come up with a plan for long-term stability. This is a tremendous and important junction in their lives.”
Jimenez Perez said they have already seen individual success stories that were buoyed by the ability to become more fiscally sound. Participants in financial mentorship programs have seen their credit scores go up significantly and report a feeling of empowerment that comes with prudent fiscal planning. One participant was able to meet a savings goal that put them on the road to home ownership, another recently graduated college, while another is now a financial mentor to peers.
“When I got into the program, it really was like a superhero coming in to save the day,” said Veronica Vieyra, a 25-year-old program participant who just graduated from San José State University with a degree in Public Health. “I was just exiting the foster system and needed to move out of the college dorms because of the pandemic. The program allowed me to find a room, stay in the area, and get my degree. Now I’m in the process of finding work, and the additional income allows me to do so while keeping a roof over my head.”
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Media Contact: María Leticia Gómez/Eric Kurhi, (408) 299-5119, [email protected]
Posted: June 23, 2021