New Bills Would Add $520 Million to Support Older Foster Youth
House leadership on child welfare introduced two bills that would increase funds for older foster youth. These bills would also help states prevent teens and young adults from aging out of the foster care system during COVID-19.
The Chronicle of Social Change states that the Pandemic Protection Act amends Title IV-E by briefly removing the age ceiling on the program. For some child welfare systems, 18 is the legal age limit, but most states have extended foster care services to support youth up to 21 year old.
According to the article, “Four states – California, Illinois, Ohio and Rhode Island – as well as Washington, D.C., have already imposed a local moratorium on aging out of care, which even in stable times is associated with an increased likelihood of homelessness or incarceration.” Child welfare advocates, including the Foster Care Alumni of America, have pressed governors and Congress to help impose moratoriums in the other 46 states.
“A separate, yet-to-be-titled bill introduced today addresses another call from advocates: adding $500 million to the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program. Of that, $340 million would go to independent-living programs, and $160 million would help buffer an education voucher program that provides up to $5,000 each year for tuition and other college costs for current and former foster youth. That bill also adds $20 million to help foster youth access housing under the Family Unification Program at the Department of Housing and Urban Development,” adds the Chronicle.
This action came days after the Trump administration announced temporary policy changes giving states more flexibility to support older foster youth. The Administration for Children and Families announced that states that haven’t used federal funds to extend foster care to 21 can do so by filling out a simple form, and it temporarily dropped work and school requirement, which are usually conditions for youth who choose to remain past age 18.
“No young person should age out,” said Jerry Milner, who heads the Children’s Bureau. “It’s an unacceptable outcome and this crisis highlights the importance of that.”