GRACE Celebrates Groundbreaking $115 Million Investment in HOPE Accounts for Children Orphaned by COVID-19 and Foster Youth!
Governor Gavin Newsom approved the state’s 2022-2023 budget with vital investments secured for over 32,000 children orphaned by COVID and children who are in long-term foster care.
GRACE & End Child Poverty California (ECPCA), John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY), End Poverty in California (EPIC), and Liberation in a Generation worked diligently alongside partners and California leaders for the inclusion of HOPE Trust Fund Accounts in the final budget. The Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Act – championed by Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) – will lay the foundation for future expansion of child trust accounts, or baby bonds, as a tool to support wealth building and economic opportunity for California children living in poverty. Approximately 1 in 5 children live in poverty in our state.
HOPE Accounts will support children from low-income families who lost a primary caregiver to COVID-19, as well as children who are in long-term foster care. HOPE funds will be available when a child turns 18. They will allow children to invest in their education, start a business, or support purchasing transportation or housing. Access to wealth-building tools is critical to shrink the state’s persistent racial wealth gap. The budget agreement provides $100 million in one-time funding and $15 million in ongoing funding for the HOPE Account program.
Cody Van Felden, a foster youth advocate at John Burton Advocates for Youth said, “The guarantee of baby bonds means so much to me. I have done so much advocating for this because, as a first step, baby bonds will begin to eradicate generational poverty. I did not get a running start in getting out of poverty; therefore, I must work twice as hard to ensure my daughter does not stay stuck in poverty. Baby bonds will give others like me that running start to take control of their life.”
California has the highest child poverty rate in the country, with stark economic disparities that track along racial lines. Baby bonds work to close the racial wealth gap and end cycles of intergenerational poverty by providing guaranteed capital that recipients can use to build wealth and establish financial security. Providing access to this seed fund of capital directly combats the effects of racist and classist policy choices that created the racial wealth gap in the first place. Baby bonds are an increasingly prominent policy tool for combating the lasting effects of that history and charting a better path forward. In 2021, the state of Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. each enacted similar programs. Additionally, federal proposals have been introduced by Senator Cory Booker and Representative Ayanna Pressley.
Introduction to Baby Bonds & CA’s Hope Accounts
May 19, 2022
One of End Child Poverty California’s key legislative requests during 2022–and a topic that the GRACE team is championing–is the HOPE for Children Act. This request regards the establishment of Hope Accounts for California youth that are experiencing economic insecurity due to the pandemic and also those that have been involved with the child welfare system.
What will Hope Accounts Do? This proposal will create California’s first “baby bond program,” or trust fund accounts for foster youth in long term care and children orphaned by COVID-19.
Unlike their peers, these children–and other low-income California youth–do not have the cushion of parent or family wealth to rely on when they become adults. This makes it even harder for our young adults to finance an education, buy a house, start a business, and make other moves that would allow them to move out of poverty and into long-term financial stability for themselves AND their families.
A Quick Vocabulary Lesson. Wealth is what a person owns: a person’s net worth, or total assets minus liabilities. This includes items like cash, homes and real estate, cars, jewelry, etc. Income is what a person earns over a certain period, like a salary, sales profits, etc. These two are not the same. Income can generate wealth, but takes time to do so. Having a high paying job doesn’t automatically mean someone is wealthy.
Why Are HOPE Accounts Important? HOPE Accounts are a pathway toward ensuring low-income children in California will have the opportunity to realize their dreams. We are urging the Legislature to create these accounts ASAP for 32,500 children orphaned by COVID and foster youth.
Providing $8 billion for the Better for Families Rebates to give $200 per taxpayer and dependent to address increasing costs of basic needs like food and gas;
Providing an additional rebate for CalWORKs families and those enrolled in the Supplemental Security Income/State Supplementary Payment program
Increasing the child care reimbursement rate to the 85th percentile of the regional market rate, and including a cost of living increase to the county regional market rate;
Investing $200 million in additional childcare facilities as proposed by the Governor’s May Revision;
Approving the waiving of family fees for childcare as proposed by the Governor’s May Revision
Increasing CalWORKs grant levels starting July 1, 2023 and providing $789 million to increase CalWORKs grants to end deep child poverty
Implementing a full-pass through of child support payments to families formerly receiving public assistanceas proposed by the Governor’s January budget;
Implementing a full-pass through of child support payments to families currently on public assistance in 2024-2025 and on-going
Creating the HOPE Account Program to provide trust fund accounts for low-income children who have lost parents or caregivers to COVID-19 and for children who experienced long-term foster care;
Approving $12 million as proposed by the Governor’s May Revision as assistance for Promise Neighborhoods to ensure low-income children and families receive place-based, wraparound services from cradle to career
Statement by Shimica Gaskins, President & CEO of GRACE/End Child Poverty CA:
“We are celebrating today’s announcement that the legislature’s latest budget deal includes a $100 million on-going commitment for HOPE accounts. Creating HOPE accounts for the tens of thousands of California children who lost a parent to COVID and long-term foster youth provides targeted support to our state’s most vulnerable children. The creation of HOPE accounts sets California onto a path for a brighter future, as we can proudly say that we are establishing baby bonds while also building a framework the state can build upon to shrink the racial wealth gap in our state and change the trajectory for millions of California children.
“We are grateful to Senator Nancy Skinner for championing the HOPE for Children Act and to our partners, Liberation in a Generation and End Poverty in California (EPIC), for working alongside GRACE & End Child Poverty CA to fight for this critical program to remain in the final budget.
“A budget is a statement of a state’s values, and this commitment to HOPE accounts makes it clear that California values our children. We urge the Governor to move quickly to sign this budget into law to ensure we can make an immediate down payment on our promise to give every child in California a chance to succeed.”
The alignment of the Senate’s budget priorities and End Child Poverty’s $10 Billion to Fight Poverty package signals an exciting opportunity this legislative cycle for joint advocacy and collaboration between legislative leaders and anti-poverty advocates
The California Senate outlined equity & prosperity as their key values today. They put forth an innovative plan to make California’s wealth work for a more equitable economy. The Senate’s budget is in response to Gov. Newsom’s proposed state budget.
We applaud the Senate for prioritizing children and families. The 178 End Child Poverty CA Coalition members worked together on a groundbreaking anti-poverty plan this year. Our $10 Billion to Fight Poverty plan is within reach. The Senate’s new budget shows us the way. The Senate plan includes targeted and equitable investments to serve people most impacted by the economic repercussions of the pandemic and rising inflation costs.
“The Senate’s proposed budget puts California’s wealth to work today, tomorrow, and into the future. Our leaders are embracing innovative approaches such as baby bonds. They’re keeping their promises to ensure no child lives in deep poverty. They’re providing targeted tax relief so we equitably build back better in our state,” said Shimica Gaskins, President & CEO of Grace and End Child Poverty CA.
We are especially thrilled to see the Senate include HOPE Accounts in the budget. HOPE Accounts are investment accounts to be created for children in poverty who had a primary caregiver die due to COVID-19, eligible foster youth, and more. With this inclusion, our leaders are planting the seeds to ensure California’s children have equitable opportunities in the future, taking the much needed first steps to combat the racial wealth gap and the opportunity gap that all poor children face. Similarly, we applaud and stand with the Senate’s plan to prevent the interception of tax credits intended to help Californians in poverty.
The alignment of the Senate’s budget priorities and End Child Poverty’s $10 Billion to Fight Poverty package signals an exciting opportunity this legislative cycle for joint advocacy and collaboration between legislative leaders and anti-poverty advocates to create long-term, transformative change for low-income families and communities of color. We are eager to work together to ensure that the deployment of the state’s surplus addresses the needs of families and children first and foremost.
The End Child Poverty in California campaign is a growing coalition of 178 anti-poverty organizations, allies, and advocates fighting for the resources and strategies to ensure ALL children can be healthy, housed and fed. Our coalition efforts have led to over $13 billion investments to support children and have successfully fought to double the size of the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit, expand health care, create new subsidized child care slots, and more.
Founding President & CEO of GRACE and End Child Poverty CA Conway Collis announced today that Shimica Gaskins will serve as the organization’s next President and CEO. Gaskins currently serves as Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-California, She will assume her new role with GRACE on August 9th.
“It has been an honor and a blessing to help found and lead GRACE and work with the Daughters of Charity for almost 20 years,” said Collis. “Hundreds of thousands of California children have been lifted from poverty because of the courage and dedication of the Daughters, the work of committed elected officials, and the advocates and providers who are part of the 173 End Child Poverty CA Coalition partner organizations. We have achieved much together, and it is now the right time for me to continue this work in a new way. Therefore, it is with great pride that I welcome Shimica Gaskins as the next President and CEO of GRACE and End Child Poverty CA. Having worked with her through our End Child Poverty CA coalition and the State Lifting Children and Families from Poverty Task Force, I know firsthand just how impactful, committed and strategic Shimica is. Shimica is a blessing to GRACE, the End Child Poverty CA campaign and California’s families and children.”
“Child poverty is a human and fiscal crisis that requires moral, political and intellectual leadership to solve. We’ve been blessed to have had that leadership from Conway Collis for nearly two decades, and are doubly blessed to have found those same characteristics in Shimica Gaskins,” said Sister Julie Kubasak, D.C., Board Chair of GRACE and Provincial of the Daughters of Charity Province of Elizabeth Ann Seton. “Shimica is the ideal leader for our advocacyon behalf of California’s children and families.”
“GRACE and End Child Poverty CA are all about impact, and so am I,” said Gaskins. “It’s not enough to develop the best policies – you have to organize, advocate and make change happen. That’s the ethos that Conway put into place at the End Child Poverty campaign, and it is my honor to take the reins from him. I am humbled by the faith put into me by the Daughters of Charity, who have been fighting for California’s poor since 1852. Carrying out the next chapter of their legacy will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of California families. That is our mission, and I cannot wait to get started.”
In 2017, GRACE/End Child Poverty CA sponsored AB 1520, the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Act, which formed a state Task Force, co-chaired by Collis, to create the End Child Poverty Plan released in 2018. Since then, GRACE/End Child Poverty CA has helped enact and secure funding for 33 of the 47 proposals in the Plan, representing $4.8 billion in new funding in each of the last three years to double the California Earned Income Tax Credit and the Young Child Tax Credit, expand health care, expand home visiting programs, create new subsidized childcare slots, and more. As a result of these investments, more than 290,000 California children and families moved out of poverty, and an additional 115,000 California children and families moved out of deep poverty, in 2020 alone.
End Child Poverty CA is a coalition of 173 member organizations jointly sponsored by GRACE End Child Poverty Institute and GRACE (Gather, Respect, Advocate, Change, Engage). GRACEis an anti-poverty non-profit and is a ministry of the Daughters of Charity, who have been serving the poor in California since 1852.
“Conway Collis has been a tireless champion for the working families and children of California, and it is a testament to his leadership that GRACE and End Child Poverty CA have grown into strong forces for economic justice,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “It has been a privilege to fight alongside Conway for decades — on Foster Youth, Head Start and most recently the Biden Child Tax Credit, which we celebrated together last week. While we will dearly miss Conway as he embarks on his next adventure, I am looking forward to carrying on the fight for our children alongside Shimica Gaskins, who is an inspiring leader and a powerful agent of change.”
‘With Conway Collis at the helm, GRACE and End Child Poverty CA have created the policy and advocacy playbook needed to make a significant contribution toward ending child poverty,” said Rep. Karen Bass, whose work with Collis dates back to her time as CA Assembly Speaker and who reached out to him to serve as Chair of the Board of Directors when she founded the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI). “Shimica Gaskins has the policy expertise and determination needed to fulfill the mission of her new role: to end child poverty in California.”
“Shimica Gaskins is perfect for President of End Child Poverty CA with her vast experience at the Children’s Defense Fund. As a partner of the End Child Poverty CA Coalition, I have worked with Shimica Gaskins through our coalition, she is a wonderful choice and I cannot wait to see her in action as our leader,” said Dolores Huerta. “Conway is a true fighter for children everywhere. I know that his next mission will keep him arm in arm with us, continuing the fight against child poverty.”
“Shimica Gaskins is a bold champion for ending child poverty and eradicating the racial inequities underlying this crisis and harming our children and their families,” said Michael Tubbs. “She is the right leader to build on Conway and GRACE’s work as the new leader for GRACE and End Child Poverty CA at this critical moment. I am thrilled to partner with her in the fight for economic justice.”
Gaskins is a graduate of The Catholic University of America and Georgetown University Law Center. After working for Covington and Burling, she served as Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the US Department of Justice Office of Legal Policy under the Administration of President Barack Obama. She has led the Children’s Defense Fund-CA since 2017. She is also a Commissioner on the Los Angeles County Commission for Children and Families. Gaskins is a board member for Impact Justice and California Budget and Policy Center.
Collis’s previous experience includes serving as Counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Public Welfare and as an elected member and Chair of the California State Board of Equalization. He is a graduate of Occidental College and Stanford Law School.
We make today’s announcement that Jackie Thu-Huong Wong, GRACE/End Child Poverty CA’s Vice President of Policy and Advocacy has accepted the position of Chief Deputy at the California Children and Families Commission (First 5 California), with pride, and congratulations to Jackie in her new position, and deep gratitude for her service.
Jackie has played a crucial and central leadership role in helping GRACE and the End Child Poverty CA (ECPCA) Coalition work with each of you, the Governor, and committed legislators in achieving the historic implementation of the recommendations made by the Lifting Children and Families Out of Poverty Task Force. 33 of the 47 Task Force recommendations have been adopted, with $4.8 billion in new comprehensive investments. This progress could not have been achieved without Jackie’s guidance, experience, commitment, and the respect in which she is held within state government.
Despite the loss of Jackie’s direct day to day involvement with GRACE/ECPCA, however, having served as a First 5 California Commissioner for eight years, I am grateful that she will now be in a central leadership role in implementing and building on the key 0–5-year-old investments that have been made. Her wisdom and leadership are needed in her new role now more than ever. We will continue to rely on her guidance and partnership. Jackie’s letter to the GRACE/ECPCA coalition partners can be found here.
We are fortunate to also be able to announce that Michelle Rubalcava, an experienced attorney, former legislative staff member, and former Senior Legislative Advocate for Los Angeles County will join GRACE/ECPCA as our retained Policy Advocate.
Michelle has over twenty years of extensive experience in and around state politics as a legislative staff member, health care attorney, and legislative advocate. She has worked for distinguished legislators such as Senator Denise Moreno Ducheny and Senator Bryon Sher. As Senior Legislative Advocate for the County of Los Angeles, she specialized in health, mental health, and public health issues. Her personal and professional experiences will assist and enhance GRACE/ECPCA’s ability to convene key legislative leaders, maximize the effectiveness of the ECPCA Coalition and add significant strength to our efforts to implement the End Child Poverty Plan. Michelle has shown a deep commitment to the GRACE/ECPCA mission of ending child and family poverty in our state and we look forward to working with her. She is Senior Counsel at the law firm of Nielsen Merksamer Parrinello Gross & Leoni, which has a long association with GRACE/ECPCA.
Conway Collis President and CEO of GRACE & End Child Poverty California
We want to share End Child Poverty California movement wins from the most recent California budget.
In spite of the fact that this continues to be an incredibly difficult year, we are moving forward together. We’re proud to work with such a phenomenal group of partners, parents and advocates. We believe ALL our children deserve to be healthy, housed and fed.
On June 29, 2020, California’s newest state budget was finalized. For the first time ever, undocumented families are included in the poverty-fighting CalEITC cash-back tax credit.
This means money going directly to working families who have been left out of economic relief and necessary income supports during the COVID-19 pandemic. We know this money will be used in local communities. We know it will support some of our most vulnerable undocumented families who urgently need money for food, bills, and health care.
The CalEITC tax credit change applies to undocumented families who have children under six, and who file taxes using an Individual Tax Identification Number. These families don’t have Social Security Numbers, but they pay taxes. The change also includes the $1,000 Young Child Tax Credit for any family with children under six earning $1 or more. These changes go into effect next year. For the first time, ALL California families with young children who file taxes and make less than about $30,000 per year will be eligible for these life-saving credits.
We will continue working hard alongside our partners and the CalEITC Coalition and the Safety Net For All Coalition (a network of over 125 organizations) so that more California families can be included in immediate and ongoing relief.
And there is more good news: Both of our End Child Poverty California Senate bills passed out of the State Senate with bipartisan support!
Senate Bill 1103: Workforce Support Services for Californians (Authored by Sen. Melissa Hurtado)
Many promising youth and community members haven’t been able to complete career training programs that lead to higher wage jobs and a path out of poverty, due to the daily challenges of living in poverty. These include lack of child care, commutes of two- to three-hours each way, and the need to work multiple low-wage jobs to support their families while going to training.
SB 1103 by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D – Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare Counties) creates the High Roads Workforce Training Program that addresses the issues that stop people from graduating. This is an important commitment to families and brighter futures. SB 1103 is particularly important to California’s economic recovery from COVID-19.
Senate Bill 1409: CalEITC Tax Credit Auto-filing Pilot for Families with Low Incomes (Authored by Senator Anna Caballero)
We know that many families earn so little that they are not required to file taxes, yet they are eligible for the CalEITC tax credit and Young Child Tax Credit that would help them with stability and basic necessities.
SB 1409 authored by Senator Caballero (D – Salinas Valley and parts of the Central Valley) seeks to develop efficiencies in tax filing, so that families can directly receive their CA EITC and other tax benefits. Research has shown that as much as $2 Billion State and Federal Tax Credits are left unclaimed. This bill would cut through bureaucracy and would create methods for direct payments to families.
This crisis has had an outsized impact on our families in poverty and together we can make sure we change the way we support and create opportunities for families. Looking forward to sharing more good news in support of children and families soon.
More California budget news and analysis from partners:
Join us: ask leaders to pass two important pieces of legislation right now that fight economic inequality. We want to build a better California with high-wage, high-earning jobs for solid futures. We want families to get the support they need without obstacles. We don’t want to recover from crisis to the way things were before.
Your clicks matter in getting these two End Child Poverty Plan policies passed now:
SB 1103 the High Roads Workforce Training Program focuses on making sure promising workers don’t face obstacles to finishing job training programs (authored by Sen. Melissa Hurtado)
SB 1409 the CalEITC autofiling pilot tests out a way to get Californians who qualify for critical tax credits auto-enrolled so that we can cut red tape and get families the money they are owed. This money goes directly into local communities and supports children and families (authored by Sen. Anna Caballero)
We must recover from COVID-19 into a new California that prioritizes equity.
The High Roads Workforce Training Program removes obstacles to great jobs. #SB1103 is economic justice at work. Let’s take the #HighRoadToRecovery. @portantino @SenatorPatBates @SteveBradford @SenBrianJones @SenatorLeyva @BobWieckowskiCA @SenToniAtkins #CALeg #EndChildPovertyCA
Let’s remove roadblocks that stop youth from launching careers. With #HighRoadToRecovery, Eustolia can build her future again.➡️Pass #SB1103⬅️@portantino @SenatorPatBates @SteveBradford @SenBrianJones @SenatorLeyva @BobWieckowskiCA @SenToniAtkins #CALeg https://youtu.be/ZwNa3Sub-2g
Call A Leader on the Senate Appropriations Committee
These two bills need to pass out of the Senate Appropriations Committee. Choose an elected leader on the committee to call:
Senator Anthony J. Portantino (Chair) (916) 651-4025
Senator Patricia C. Bates (Vice Chair) (916) 651-4036
Senator Steven Bradford (916) 651-4035
Senator Jerry Hill (916) 651-4013
Senator Brian Jones (916) 651-4038
Senator Connie M. Leyva (916) 651-4020
Senator Bob Wieckowski (916) 651-4010
Hi, my name is _________ and I live in __________. Thanks so much for everything you’re doing to help communities recover from COVID-19. I’m calling to ask for your support of two bills that are part of California’s End Child Poverty Plan: SB 1103 and SB 1409.
The High Roads Workforce Training Program, Senate Bill 1103, will create pathways to high-wage jobs for disconnected youth, youth-at-risk and farm workers. These Californians face some of the biggest roadblocks to recovery. This bill is a chance for California to offer new, better futures for people living in poverty.
The CalEITC autofiling pilot tests out a way to get low-income Californians the money they are owed in important tax credits. This money is a life-saver for families and helps parents take care of kids.
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Sophia speaks in support of SB 1103 and discusses trying to build her future while managing school, full-time fast-food work, and parenting: https://vimeo.com/427918005
Eustolia talks about how not having transportation stopped her from finishing her welding program even though she was at the top of the class and a consistent over-achiever: https://youtu.be/ZwNa3Sub-2g
Alicia talks about how youth who have to work multiple jobs to help their families can’t access may internship and training opportunities: https://youtu.be/JeQHZuGOxlw