Written by William Hekman
The COVID pandemic affected everyone, but no more than children. While some children missed out on school time and their education, others lost more. Tens of thousands of children were orphaned because of the pandemic.
Last month, the Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Act was introduced. The bill was introduced by State Senator Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley). The bill is intended for children who lost a parent or caregiver during the pandemic and are currently in the state foster care system or in low-income housing to be eligible for a state-funded trust fund. Over 200,000 American children lost a parent or caregiver to COVID, with Skinner’s office estimating 20,000 of those children are in California. Many of these children already came from families with low incomes and had very little life insurance options, “Those children would be in an especially vulnerable situation when they’re adults and on their own” said Skinner.
If the bill passes, the state would deposit $4,000 for eligible children under 10 and $8,000 for children above 10. Once the child becomes an adult, they can withdraw the funds depending on their status in the foster system. Skinner also said that the funding is already in the state budget and will not need a tax increase.
Skinner said that income requirements are still being determined for eligibility of orphans not in the foster care system. The bill would also create a survivor benefit program that would create a cash benefit for children who can not receive other financial assistance when their parent or caregiver dies.
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