A bill written by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell’s (D-Long Beach) aiming to help foster youth reach their educational and economic goals passed the State Assembly this week, O’Donnell’s office announced.
According to a release issued by his office. AB 2656 waives the high school proficiency exam fee for students currently or formerly within the foster system. Other entities in support of the bill include the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the California Teachers Association and the National Center for Youth Law.
“As a teacher with over 20 years of experience, I understand foster kids face obstacles that make graduating from high school incredibly challenging,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, Assembly Education Committee chair, in a statement. “This new law would break down barriers for foster youth and allow them to pursue their passion.”
According to the release, half of all foster youth in the United States earn a high school diploma and just 10 percent of those graduates attend college. Meanwhile, the California High School Proficiency Exam, which provides a path to achieving educational success, costs between $110 and $160, making the exam financially prohibitive.
O’Donnell’s proposed legislation would prohibit the California Department of Education and any contractor or testing center from charging foster youth and former foster youth to take the high school equivalency test.
The bill will migrate next to the State Senate.