In 2021, JBAY piloted an innovative approach to increase the income of foster youth, in partnership with Santa Clara County and the Bill Wilson Center. Together, we helped 45 foster youth file their taxes and collectively receive $135,532.
This increased the annual income of foster youth who were parents by 42% and for non-parents by 14%. With this extra income, foster youth were able to remain stably housed, enrolled in school and able to care for their young children.
Now JBAY is taking the show on the road and expanding this successful pilot to five more counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Together, a total of 350 current and former foster youth will receive assistance in 2022.
JBAY has identified partners in each of these counties to establish a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site. JBAY will conduct trainings on the specifics of tax filing for foster youth and help the county child welfare agency develop polices to ensure all foster youth are referred to have their taxes completed.
Associate Director of Housing and Health Anna Johnson leads the project “During this time of pandemic, transition age youth have lost access to work, school, and many social connections. Free tax filing helps our youth access their stimulus checks, and puts money in their pockets to pay for their immediate housing, food, and education needs that have been stacking up.”
The expansion to five additional counties was made possible by new grants from the Walter S. Johnson Foundation, the Pritzker Foster Care Initiative, and the United Way Bay Area’s mini-grant. JBAY is also seeking funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation.
In addition to the pilot, JBAY is exploring the creation of a special tax credit for foster youth, both to increase the income of foster youth and incentivize tax filing.