Damian’s report: New program offers free transit for San Diegans leaving foster care
Young adults who are or have been in foster care can ride buses and trolleys in San Diego County for free starting July 1.
The PRONTO Extend program, recently approved by the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System and North County Transit District, seeks to support residents ages 18 to 24 as they gain independence.
About 25 percent of former foster care youth experience homelessness after leaving the system, according to a 2018 study by The University of Chicago. Less than a fourth of them enroll in college by age 21, although 77 percent wish to pursue higher education.
“Being able to have free transportation to school or jobs is an important stepping stone to help (foster youth) succeed,” said county Supervisor Nathan Fletcher, who chairs the MTS board, in a press statement.
About 200 San Diegans are emancipated from the region’s foster care system every year, according to the nonprofit San Diego Foundation.
Participants in the new pilot program can apply online at sdmts.com/PRONTO-Extend, via mail or in person at 100 16th St. Applications can also be faxed to 844-299-6369. Processing may take up to three weeks.
The pilot runs through the end of next year.