As the Los Angeles Times reported, the state’s huge budget deficits have required Governor Schwarzenegger to make deep cuts in many social welfare programs, including foster care for kids between the ages of 18-21. This is having an impact on us personally as we have a small business in Los Angeles and have been working with some at risk kids who are in the foster care system of Los Angeles county.
Life is hard, like many people and businesses, we are struggling in this difficult economy. Regardless of economic conditions, we feel our business has a social and moral responsibility to help our local community and we work with local schools and programs to offer internships and mentoring wherever and whenever we can. We are a small indie record company and many kids are interested in the music business, whether as an artist, in the technical areas of production or performance or the business of marketing and selling it.
We try to work with the kids in the foster care program, whether its helping out in the office learning about marketing and promotion, working in the studio during recording sessions or working to help during live concerts. We’ve worked with some amazing kids and know we’ve helped to make some changes in their lives.
We are personally experiencing the impact of the Governors recent budget cuts as many of the kids in the foster care system we work with are at the vulnerable age of 17 or 18. Instead of extending the benefits until age 21, they will now be stopped, as the Los Angeles Times reported.
One typical kid we work with, we’ll call him Juan and his father has been locked up for life, for murder at Pelican Bay State Prison since before Juan was born. His only contact is occasional letters. Juan’s mother passed away from a drug overdose when Juan was 12, after brief stays with various relatives who were unable to control him, he was placed into the Los Angeles county foster care system. After discovering music, his passion, he has developed as a young man and now sees a path, a possible future. He’s returned to school and we’ve promised to help pay for college if he gets the grades to qualify.
Juan turns 18 next year but is still a kid. He lacks any real support system and without any advanced eduction, which is part of his plan, he has no chance for a good job or supporting himself or a family. He lives with a foster family, who provide the basic necessities, but only because they are paid by the county as foster parents. In Los Angeles country, across California and across the USA, I’m sure there are so many other kids like this, real human beings who are being hurt and impacted by these cuts, as we are.
Before the recent cuts he would have received benefits until age 21, helping him to get an education and a real start, a real chance in life. Now the benefits will stop at age 18 and where do you think many of these kids will end up? I think they will end up on the streets or in jail. Either way we are going to be paying for them, why not support them for a few more years and help create productive members of society.
Jack Dolan and Shane Goldmacher Governor’s veto ax falls heavily on welfare, child care and special education programs Los Angeles Times via LAtimes.com