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Revised Foster Youth Plan Will 'Fail,' Administrator iFoster Tells CPUC

The California Public Utilities Commission received warnings Friday about how the CPUC plans to make a foster-youth pilot a permanent part of the California LifeLine program. IFoster, the pilot’s administrator, said the current draft is “unconscionable” and would create a…

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program “destined to fail.” The CPUC "is about to take a successful Digital Equity program and destroy it while also making ineligible foster youth as they age out of foster care, the very time they need a communications device most to obtain housing, food, and apply for jobs,” the nonprofit iFoster commented in R.20-02-008. Moreover, it said the revised proposal “will result in 12,000 foster youth losing what has been to date a life-saving resource that they describe as a lifeline, a bright spot in their lives, and a necessity for their vital communications.” It's wrong for the CPUC to try to conform the program to the state's “ill-fitting regular LifeLine program,” which “routinely rejects foster youth.” Also, using the traditional LifeLine model would mean removing the mandate for providing a device for foster youth and "no requirements for high speed or unlimited data or hotspot capability,” said iFoster. Neither T-Mobile nor affiliate Assurance Wireless will participate in the proposed permanent program, T-Mobile commented. The revised proposal "still does not address how -- or whether -- current Pilot Program participants will receive service" after the pilot expires July 31, T-Mobile cautioned. Cox supported making the program a permanent part of California LifeLine. But the CPUC shouldn't assign the program its own minimum service standards or specific support amounts, the cable company said. The CPUC had planned to vote Feb. 15 on an earlier proposal but twice postponed the item. The commission now plans voting on the revised proposal at its March 21 meeting (see 2402290056 and 2403050016).