LOS ANGELES — Young people in California’s foster system will have access to free cellphones and internet access under a new program that supporters say will bridge a “digital divide.”

The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday approved the $22 million pilot program that will provide a smartphone to more than 30,000 current and former foster youth between ages 13 and 26. The phones come with a calling plan, wireless service and mobile hotspot.

The plan is supported by Boost Mobile and the national nonprofit iFoster.

Serita Cox, iFoster’s CEO, says people in the foster system and those who age out of it are often much less digitally connected than their peers. She says the program will give them crucial access to potential employers, government benefits and loved ones.

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