Assemblymember O’Donnell’s Bill to Help Foster Youth Achieve Academic Success Approved by the Legislature

For immediate release:

(SACRAMENTO) – Legislation by Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-Long Beach) ensuring foster youth can attain their educational and economic goals passed the Legislature today. AB 2656 waives the high school proficiency exam fee (GED) for students currently or formerly within the foster system.  The American Civil Liberties Union, the California Teachers Association and the National Center for Youth Law all stand in support of the bill.

“As a teacher with over 20 years of experience, I know many foster kids face an uphill battle on the path toward graduation,” said Assemblymember O’Donnell, Chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “AB 2656 will eliminate a significant financial barrier to make it easier for these students to pursue their academic goals.”

Only 50 percent of foster youth in the United States earn a high school diploma, and just 10 percent of those who graduate attend college. The California High School Proficiency Exam is an alternate path to a high school diploma and graduation from high school.  However, with costs ranging from $110 to $160, the exam can be financially prohibitive. AB 2656 would prohibit the California Department of Education, as well as any contractor or testing center, from charging foster youth and former foster youth to take the high school equivalency test.

The Governor now has until September 30 to sign the bill into law.

Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell represents the 70th Assembly District, which includes
Long Beach, Signal Hill, San Pedro and Catalina Island.