DATE: December 6, 2005
TO: Board of Supervisors
SUBJECT: Check It Out: Making Library Cards Available to Foster Youth
Library cards provide a gateway to learning and knowledge. Books and other library resources not only educate us about our history and culture, but they often provide an escape from the stress of life and the problems of the day. Today’s action will give San Diego County foster children the chance to explore and learn through the ability to obtain a County library card.
SUPERVISORS COX AND ROBERTS
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to implement a process
to make San
Diego County Library cards available to foster youth.
- Direct the Chief Administrative Officer to work with the 11 other library jurisdictions to make library services available to foster children throughout the County.
There is no fiscal impact associated with this request
According to the National Endowment for the Arts Reading at Risk Survey, less than half of adult Americans read literature and literacy rates are declining among whites, African Americans, and Hispanics. Additionally, youth of all ages are reading almost 8 percent less than they did in 1982.
Foster children face a myriad of challenges that range from multiple changes in placement, multiple changes in school, unfamiliar people, unfamiliar places, and a system that cannot provide them with the everyday supports that they need to live a normal, healthy life.
Because of the transitory nature of foster care, it isn’t always easy for foster parents to help foster youth access library cards. There are often multiple children in the home with multiple needs and wants. With the County acting as guardian for foster children who want library cards, an additional burden is lifted from foster parents and an additional amenity is available to the youth. As the library system for the unincorporated area of the County and several small cities, it is also our responsibility to make sure that anyone who wants access to library resources has it with as few barriers as possible.
Library cards provide a gateway to learning and knowledge. Books and other library resources not only educate us about our history and culture, but they often provide an escape from the stress of life and the problems of the day. The modern library houses a lot more than just books. Libraries now have computers with Internet access and multimedia capabilities so that all ages can type a report, prepare a power point presentation or put together a video. Spending an afternoon at a library can open our eyes to new people, new experiences, and even provide job training. In order to obtain a library card, children under the age of 18 must have a parent or guardian act as co-signers on the card. Foster children are separated from their parents and often move from guardian to guardian before exiting the system. As the Child Welfare agency for our county’s foster children, the County should be able to sign as co-signers so that foster children will be able to access the same resources as every other child in this County.
Today’s action will give foster children the opportunity to explore and learn through books and other library resources.
Because foster children often move from placement to placement in various parts of the county, today’s action will enable the County’s Library Department to work with other library jurisdictions in order to make sure library services and books are available to foster children no matter where they live.
Foster children should be afforded the same opportunities as every other child. Today’s action will give them one of those opportunities.
We urge your support!
Supervisor, First District
Supervisor, Fourth District