The income program will provide 200 former Los Angeles County DCFS foster youth with $1,000 per month for two years.

On Wednesday, June 14, L.A. County held a virtual media briefing to announce the BREATHE Guaranteed Income Program’s expansion to include 200 former L.A. County DCFS foster youth, who aged out of the system, with $1,000 monthly for two years.

Young people who have aged out of the foster system will benefit from the BREATHE expansion program.

The briefing included speakers Holly J. Mitchell, L.A. County Supervisor, 2nd District, Carrie D. Miller, Ph.D., executive director of L.A. County Poverty Alleviation Initiative and Allison Thompson, MSS, Ph.D., executive director, University of Pennsylvania, Center of Guaranteed Income Research.

“Since authoring the motion that created BREATHE, my resolve has continued to be that investing directly in our residents and trusting them to know how to best meet the needs of their families,” said Mitchell.

“Again, giving money directly to the hands of people who need it helps our communities as a whole and this is evident in some of the anecdotal stories that we’ve heard.”

Early research shows the Guaranteed Income Program can provide households with financial stability, which will alleviate stress, provide opportunities and allow recipients to fully participate in their communities. Also, these programs come without the scrutiny and work requirements of certain public benefits.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we decided that for dignity of people, that we wanted to make this the most, simple application process possible,” said Miller.

The application period is June 20 through July 3 and is the first step in the county’s determination to address poverty. BREATHE is a pilot program that the county hopes will lead to a more expansive programs in the future that will serve more people in Los Angeles County.

“We’re so excited to support L.A. County and its expansion of BREATHE,” said Thompson. “Youth, who age out of foster care are at higher risk for experiencing poor well-being outcomes compared to their same aged peers in the general population.”

The Center of Guaranteed Income Research was established in 2020 at the school of Social Policy and Practice at the University of Pennsylvania to develop a common body of knowledge on unconditional cash transfers. It focuses on research, evaluation, pilot design, and policy pathways with the goal of learning about effective and just implementation and outcomes related to guaranteed income.

“Youth in the general population typically rely on their families for concrete resources and financial support well into their 20s and even 30s but youth, who age out of foster care often do so without these concrete resources and financial support,” said Thompson.

“And as a result, they face enormous challenges.”

Los Angeles County launched the pilot program BREATHE to provide its residents a chance to “breathe” in having financial security. The pilot project will provide 1,000 eligible residents with $1,000 per month for three years, and additional 200 former Los Angeles County DCFS foster youth with $1,000 per month for two years.

Courtesy Photo

“I’m very proud of the work we’ve been able to do together, the success our youth participants have experienced and what we will be able to do with the selected foster youth,” said Mitchell.

“BREATHE is a necessary component of our strategy to combat and prevent poverty and this program is needed as we face an increase in job losses and economic disruption across the nation.”

Mitchell continued, “It’s really important to me that I’m clear that guaranteed income, has always intended, to supplement rather than replace the existing safety net for some of our most vulnerable residents.

“It is also supplement, rather than replace work, that’s a common misnomer that we all have to combat that people won’t work and receive this benefit.”

“It doesn’t matter when you apply, it’s not a first come, first serve,” said Miller. “Any application received in that two-week period, for someone who is eligible, is a good application.”

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