Sen. Skinner Introduces New Bill Strengthening CA’s HOPE Accounts

January 26, 2023

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, announced today that she has introduced a new bill strengthening the HOPE Accounts law she authored last year. That law made California the first in the nation to create savings accounts for children who lost a parent or guardian to COVID and for youth who are in long-term foster care. The California State Budget Act of 2022-23 included $100 million to fund the HOPE Accounts program.

Sen. Skinner’s new legislation, SB 242, would ensure that HOPE Accounts are not considered income and thus would not affect the ability of low-income youth to receive other public benefit programs, including CalWORKs, CalFresh, and Medi-Cal.

In addition, Senator Skinner announced that she swore-in her selection to the new HOPE (Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment) Program Board of Directors — Shimica Gaskins, president and CEO of GRACE End Child Poverty. The board, which was formed recently and was created by Sen. Skinner’s HOPE Accounts law, is scheduled to hold its first public meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 31, to begin the process of identifying youth who will receive HOPE Accounts.

“I’m honored and proud that Shimica Gaskins has agreed to serve on the HOPE Program Board,” Senator Skinner said. “An accomplished and highly respected attorney, Shimica has spent much of her career organizing and advocating to improve the lives of children, especially those from low-income families and communities of color — for better health care, for educational equity, and for ending child poverty.

“I’m also pleased that the HOPE Program Board has been formed and will launch the important work of identifying the youth who will receive HOPE Accounts. These accounts will offer a more secure future to children who lost a parent to the deadly pandemic and to youth who are long-term wards of California’s foster care system. Also known as baby bonds, HOPE Accounts are a hopeful new policy that will help children facing economic hardship by providing them with resources they can count on when they turn 18.”

“And finally, SB 242 provides an important update to the HOPE Accounts law by ensuring that receiving a HOPE Account won’t harm the ability of low-income youth to also receive other public benefit programs.”

“I’m moved and honored to represent a community voice as a member of California’s HOPE Board,” said Shimica Gaskins, who previously was executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-California. “Our work is just beginning. We promise to bring to fruition a dignity-centered solution to help close the racial wealth gap and create economic mobility for California’s most vulnerable children. HOPE Accounts give children the chance they deserve to pursue their dreams.”

California’s HOPE Accounts law began last year as legislation by Sen. Skinner, SB 854, and then was included in the State Budget Act of 2022-23. It will create savings accounts for eligible youth to access when they turn 18. Other members of the HOPE for Children Trust Account Program Board of directors include State Treasurer Fiona Ma, State Controller Malia Cohen, and Department of Finance Director Joe Stepenshaw. The board’s first public meeting is scheduled for Jan. 31 at 11 a.m. It will be livestreamed. Click here to for a link to the livestream and to see the agenda

Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.

In the above photo, Sen. Skinner swears in Shimica Gaskins to the HOPE Accounts Program Board of Directors.