The California Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Trust Account Program
The California Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Trust Account Program, established through Assembly Bill 156 (Chapter 569, Statues of 2022) and codified in Chapter 16.1 (commencing with section 18997.5) of the Welfare and Institutions Code (HOPE Act), aims to close the racial wealth gap and confront the issue of intergenerational poverty by creating a new financial investment program specifically catered to vulnerable children throughout the state (HOPE Program).
Thousands of children in California have lost their parents or primary caregiver to COVID-19. This sudden loss leaves children without a safety net and the resources they rely on to help them grow into happy, healthy adults. Studies also show that when young people learn they are receiving an investment, it changes their outlook about their future potential and can help further positive choices that bolster children’s chances at successfully building wealth and becoming financially independent, contributing members to their communities and the state. Accordingly, the HOPE Program will provide a trust account to an eligible child who lost their parents or guardian to COVID-19 during the public health emergency, as well as children who have been in the foster system for over 18 months.
The HOPE Act requires the HOPE Program board of directors (HOPE Board) to develop the investment policies, oversee administration of the HOPE Program and advise the Treasurer on relevant data related to ongoing program enrollment. By February 1, 2023, the HOPE Act requires the Treasurer to convene a working group through the Treasurer’s Office to advise the HOPE Board. It also directs the HOPE Board to report to the Legislature, by February 1, 2024, information about future statutory and budget allocations needed to meet the goals of the HOPE Program and potential expansion to all foster youth and children born into low-income circumstances.