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Jacqueline’s report: New program offers free transit for San Diegans leaving foster care



Young adults in or transitioning out of the foster care system in San Diego County will soon be eligible for free public transportation through a new pilot program.

The program, dubbed PRONTO Extend, is set to launch July 1. It will provide free access to major public transport, such as bus and trolley lines, to those aged 18 to 24 who’ve recently left or remain in the foster care system.

The program, approved this month by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District, seeks to financially ease the transition from foster care to adult independence, officials said.

“Being able to have free transportation to school or jobs is an important stepping stone to help them succeed,” Nathan Fletcher, chair of the MTS board and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, said in a press statement.

Fletcher said former foster youth face distinctive obstacles compared to other young people.

A quarter of young adults in California exiting foster care experience homelessness, and because of financial obstacles, only one in four are able to enroll in higher education, according to a 2018 study by The University of Chicago.

The pilot is a local step toward achieving equal access to opportunities and resources for this population, officials said.

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