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SB 5405 Passes 80 to 16!

We are happy to report that SB 5405 - Extended Foster Care (EFC) passed the House of Representatives last night 80-16! This was their last bill of the evening and not long before the cut-off deadline of today at 5:00 PM. Now leadership from the House and Senate will meet to "concur" on any final details. Once this final step is completed the bill goes to the Governor for signature.

Here's a recap of what is included in this crucial bill:

Scope: This legislation we are now celebrating allows youth with barriers to employment to participate in the Extended Foster Care program. Currently, youth pursuing their secondary or post-secondary education may enroll. It is estimated that adding this new population will allow approximately 70% of the remaining youth aging out of care to be eligible for the program.

Reentry: At this point we have a clause that allows youth to leave the foster care system at age 18 and they have one year to return and enter the EFC program. Previously youth only had six-months after turning 18 to enroll.

Budget: The Senate budget included $3.080 million for EFC and the House budget includes $3.5 million. This was a major win because this is the first time that new moneyhas been dedicated to Extended Foster Care. Throughout our recent economic struggles, we worked with policy-makers to find creative and effective ways to re-allocate currently existing funds in order to create and expand EFC without eliminating or interrupting services for youth. This is one of the big reasons we were able to create and expand and entitlement program during times of steep budget cuts. What is significant about SB 5405, is that the legislature has recognized the value and the need for this effective program, and both chambers have dedicated new funding to ensure that youth who need it most have access to safe housing after turning 18.

Your work and support contributed to this major accomplishment. Your phone calls and emails at the strategic times made an enourmous difference in getting this bill through.

This was truly a youth-inspired solution! The Mockingbird Youth Network (MYN) has continued to cite this program as a top issue and The Mockingbird Society has made it our legacy priority. MYN participants have spent much of the past year meeting and building relationships with legislators. By sharing their stories, hopes and dreams with decision-makers, and putting their advocacy in action at Youth Advocacy Day, our youth helped ensure the broad support that this bill has received this year.

This is advocacy. This is reform. This is building a world-class foster care system. We work with youth every day and make sure that their voices and their experiences make it to the decision-making table. The results speak for themselves.

We are not done yet.Until the ink is dry on the Governor's signature, we will continue to build support. We need you to stay engaged! Sign up for our advocacy alertslike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on how you can help us finish the job!