California’s lawmakers are working to develop a series of trust funds to address one of the more tragic legacies of COVID-19; supporting the children who lost a parent or caretaker to the virus.

On Friday, ABC News reported that this legislation, based around a bill introduced in the California legislature in January, could serve as a model for the rest of the country in supporting "COVID-19 orphans". The bill is still under consideration within the legislature, but its supporters say that these children urgently require support to ensure they get a better chance to rebuild their lives in the future.

"Those children would be in an especially vulnerable situation when they're adults and on their own," Skinner told ABC News. She pointed out that available data shows COVID-19 orphans were generally from low-income families who didn't have options such as life insurance to provide for their loved ones after they died. Skinner's office estimates that as many as 20,000 Californians have lost their parents or caretaker to the virus.

In a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) produced last October, the agency estimates that more than 140,000 children under age 18 in the United States lost a parent or caregiver to the virus. Overall, it is estimated that 1 out of 500 children in the United States has experienced COVID-19-associated orphanhood with more than 65% of these children coming from a minority background.

Skinner introduced the bill, known as the Hope, Opportunity, Perseverance, and Empowerment (HOPE) for Children Act, in December that would create savings accounts for California's COVID orphans that would add up to $3,000 for kids up to age 9 and up to $5,000 for youth ages 10-17.

The bill would also extend survivor benefits to these orphans who are not eligible for federal survivor benefits. The bill would also require the California Health and Human Services Agency to report to the legislature on whether the additional cost and authority needed to make the "Hope Accounts" to all children who are long-term wards of the state.

"The money wouldn't be available to them now, but the very presence would ensure that they have some financial wellness when they are adults," Skinner said.