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Gavin Newsom restores some funding for foster care after pressure from advocates and lawmakers

Gov. Gavin Newsom is restoring some proposed cuts to funding for foster care youth, in response to bi-partisan pressure and criticism from advocates.

The announcement came Friday as part of his budget update, which anticipates a $31.5 billion deficit. Despite the shortfall, Newsom restored $20 million to the Court Appointed Special Advocates program, better known as CASA.

The program enlists volunteers across the nation to help and advocate for foster youth navigating the judicial and child welfare system. CASA helps roughly 13,000 youth, about 16% of the state’s foster population.

“We are absolutely thrilled beyond belief and we know that thousands of children in foster care are going to benefit from a CASA volunteer,” said Sharon Lawrence, chief executive for the California CASA Association.

In 2022, CASA was granted $60 million over the next three years to assist with recruiting, training and fundraising. The program received the first $20 million last December.

But just one month later, Newsom proposed cutting the next two years of funding. The decision drew criticism from both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Newsom’s reversal on Friday gives $20 million over the next two years.

Advocates expected the full $40 million would go toward serving an additional 50,000 foster youth.

Assemblymember Joe Patterson, R-Rocklin, said he is committed to bringing back all the funding, and will advocate for the additional $20 million through the budget committee.

“I’m pleased the governor heard Republicans and Democratic legislators alike, we can’t cut funding for vulnerable foster care children,” Patterson said. “However, he only proposed to restore half the funding.”