A Young Leader from Iowa asks Congress to support older foster youth

Tee, a former foster youth from Iowa shares results from FosterClub’s second poll of youth from foster care who are transitioning to adulthood, between the ages 18-24. Tee is currently in her last year studying social work and struggling to switch from hands on to online education. Tee has lost 2 of her 3 jobs as a result of COVID-19. FosterClub’s most recent poll found that,

65% of foster youth have lost employment as a result of COVID-19
41% who have applied for unemployment have not received assistance
52% have not received a stimulus check
Tee asks Congress for support stating that an increasing Chafee funds would support older youth in care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Letter to Congress from State-based Child Welfare Advocates

In a letter to Congress, organizations affiliated with the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC) and others urge Congress to take action to provide emergency federal funding to ensure that state and local child welfare agencies have the dedicated resources and flexibility they need during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep children safe, support struggling families, and ensure that foster families, kinship caregivers and other providers have what they need to continue taking care of our children and youth. Recommendations include:

  1. Congress should ensure that federal funding and guidance is available to meet the COVID-19 testing and PPE needs of children, families, and child protection workers on the frontlines of child protection.
  2. Modify the Family First Prevention Services Act in order to sustain a commitment to prevention and help state and local organizations keep children safe and out of foster care.
    • Remove the state match requirement for one year for Title IV-E prevention services. This would remove fiscal barriers to states’ implementation efforts and equip states to move ahead without delay to provide the array of prevention services that are needed now more than ever.
    • Expand the scope of allowable prevention services under the Family First Prevention Services Act to include evidence-based services that prevent or mitigate the effects of domestic violence, economic security and challenges facing children of incarcerated or re-entering parents; and
    • Increase flexibility by extending by one-year the option for states to claim transitional payments for services and associated costs under the Title IV-E prevention program.
  3. Congress should create an incentive payment for states, funded through supplemental payments to CAPTA’s state formula grants.
  4. Congress should increase funding for Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) by $15M and reinforce the importance of connecting a child to a medical evaluation by a physician or other health care provider with specialized expertise in diagnosing child abuse and neglect.
  5. Congress should improve health care access for vulnerable children and their mothers through these approaches:
    • Extend Medicaid access for a full year postpartum.
    • Provide eligible former foster youth immediate access to Medicaid until age 26, as called for in the Dosha Joi Immediate Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act.
    • Ensure that every eligible child has access to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)
  6. Congress should increase federal funding to the Court Improvement Program (CIP) by $30 million to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the functioning of child welfare courts.
  7. Federal legislation should require state and local child welfare agencies to collect data to help them assess and respond equitably to the needs of families in child welfare who are experiencing significant impacts from the pandemic.
  8. Congress should enact legislation to ensure kinship caregivers have the support they need to continue as vital caregivers.
  9. Congress should dedicate funding to address the growing demand for information technology support for children, youth, parents, caregivers and agencies.
  10. Congress should swiftly address the unique needs of older youth and young adults in foster care, and those who have recently aged out on their own.
  11. Congress should increase funding and flexibility for the Social Services Block Grant. Federal legislation should specify that states must involve stakeholders in decision making about allocation of these resources.
  12. Congress should establish an independent Children’s Commissioner to coordinate comprehensive solutions for kids.

See the full letter here.

More information about SPARC is available here.

Letter to Congress from state-based foster and kinship family organizations

Nearly forty state-based networks of foster and kinship families write to Congress to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on these families and the children they are caring for. We hope Congress will consider this input as it continues to work on responding to the heavy toll of the COVID pandemic. Key points they share:

• Children and families involved in child welfare and the professionals who support them need access to rapid testing along with other first responders.
• Foster Families and kinship caregivers need economic security so they are able to continue their caregiving.
• Families and children need timely access to physical and mental health care for children and youth in foster care and those who leave foster care to reunification, adoption and guardianship.
• Foster, adoptive, and kinship family recruitment, training and licensing should be a national priority today and in the future.
• Families and workers need technology tools, including cell phones, laptops, and internet access.
• Children who have special needs require extra support with home schooling.
• Foster families, adoptive, and kinship caregivers need peer support.

Read the full letter here.

West Virginia Governor Jim Justice Urges Congress to Provide Emergency Child Welfare Funding

May 8, 2020. In this letter, Gov. Justice urges Congress to provide emergency funding for the following programs:

  • $1 billion for Community-based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Grants
  • $20 million in Kinship Navigator Programs
  • $1 billion for Title IV-B Part 2
  • $500 million for CAPTA Title 1
  • $30 million for the Court Improvement Program
  • Increase FMAP for Title IV-E Prevention Program
  • Increase funding to Title IV-E Chafee by $500 million
  • Provide $100 million in one-time emergency support for the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.

Read full letter here.

Commissioner of Virginia Department of Social Services Letter to Congress

In this letter Commissioner Duke Storen urges supports for federal funding including:

  • $1 billion for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) Grants to help states and local organizations better meet the increased need for child abuse prevention programs and adapt services to account for social distancing.
  • $500 million for CAPTA Title I to help ensure child welfare agencies’ response, investigations, and interventions of child abuse and neglect are not dangerously upended.
  • An increase in FMAP for Title IV-E Prevention Program to help make affordable mental health and substance disorder services and other interventions that support family stabilization and keep children safe but out of foster care.
  • An increase to the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is needed to help states fill in gaps to critical services including child protective services, child abuse prevention supports, domestic violence services, and foster care.

Letter here.

Letter from Secretary Ross Hunter of Washington’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families to Congressional Delegation

In this letter, Sec Hunters outlines recommends areas in need of federal stimulus, including:

  • Social Service Block Grant (SSBG) increase of $100 million for Washington State
  • Resources to serve older youth in Extended Foster Care (EFC)
  • The purchase of concrete goods, such as reliable technology for brth parents, foster parents, caregivers, service providers and others
  • The ability to provide monetary support to kinship caregivers, in both formal and informal care settings, while mitigating the risk of child abuse and neglect.

Read letter here.

Child Welfare League of America, Letter to Congress re COVID-19

CWLA offers recommendations for the next Congressional pandemic relief package, including:

  • Include an additional increase in the FMAP and continue to apply that increase to Title IV-E.
  • Increase Title IV-B child welfare services by $3 billion
  • Expand by $1 billion each the CAPTA state grants and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP).
  • Boost Title IV-E Chafee funds above the $143 million by $500 million and temporarily waive the 30% Chafee housing cap for the duration of the crisis.
  • Increase Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) funding by 4.1 billion dollars
  • Provide emergency funding for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families
  • Sustain the Essential Human Services Workforce

Full letter here.

APHSA Letter to Congress on COVID

April 10, 2020

Based on feedback from our members across the nation, this letter identifies the most urgent legislative tools needed to support human services agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic and its immediate aftermath including investment in the infrastructure needed to create economic opportunity, keeping children safe and mitigating the trauma families are experiencing, ensuring access to basic nutritional supports, and reinforcing the ability of our child care system to provide quality care to families impacted by the pandemic.

Letter here

More than 570 National, State, & Local Organizations Ask for Emergency Child Welfare COVID19 Support

April 10, 2020

Today more than 570 national, state and local organizations released a letter to Congress asking for emergency child welfare support to address the COVID-19 crisis. 128 National organizations, and 445 state and local organizations signed on to a national letter outlining a series of supports needed to support vulnerable children and families during this difficult time.

Read letter here.

Federal Legislative Advocacy for Older Youth

Policy 1: Increase Chafee Funding by 500 Million

Policy 2: Extend the Age of Eligibility for Chafee Aftercare Services to Age 23 for All Youth

Policy 3: Suspend Participation Requirements for Young People in Extended Foster Care

Policy 4: Place a Moratorium on Discharges from the Foster Care System for Youth Ages 18-21

Policy 5: Allow States to Draw Down Title IV-E funds until a Young Person Reaches age 22

See here for a PDF on federal legislative advocacy with supporting information.

See here for a new messaging tool: “Five Reasons Why Congress Should Increase Chafee Act Funds to Provide Immediate Support to Older Youth In & Leaving Foster Care During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

Federal Administrative Advocacy for Older Youth

Examples Administrative Requests for the HHS/Administration for Children and Families

  • Keep young people connected to services and housed during and after this health crisis
  • Help meet the immediate needs of young people for housing, food, and other material support
  • Ensure that youth are connected to vital resources, people, and assistance in this time of crisis
  • Direct states to develop a plan for increased supports and financial resources for expectant and parenting youth to ensure appropriate health care for the parent and child (including prenatal care) and support for the adolescent’s and child’s healthy development and well-being
  • Ensure former foster youth are insured
  • Direct and support states to develop targeted approaches to support youth in family-based settings and reduce/eliminate the use of congregate care and placement in emergency shelters to protect the health and safety of youth

See document with detailed examples here.

#UpChafee Campaign

Child welfare advocates, policy partners, and young people have come together to launch a campaign to highlight the urgent needs of youth in and aging out of foster care during the COVID-19 crisis. Advocates and young people urge Congress to ensure young people transitioning to adulthood in foster care are able to survive the hardships caused by the crisis by increasing funding for transition-age youth programs and services in the next stimulus bill and providing flexibility in the supports available to these youth such as extended foster care.

The federal funding for programs and services provided to states for older youth in foster care comes through the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood. Although expenses for young adults across the nation have skyrocketed, funding for Chafee remained at $140 million since its enactment in 1999 and only increased to $143 million this year. Additionally, eligibility for supports such as extended foster care that prevent homelessness and support educational completion must be flexible to respond to current systemic barriers to youth seeking employment and education.

The #UpChafee Campaign asks for immediate help immediate to youth for housing, food and critical supportive programs and services in the states and creates a crucial safety net.

Advocates urge Congress to take action to meet the needs of these young people during this crisis by:

  • Increasing the investment in youth by providing Chafee funds by $500 million. Chafee funds can be used to support youth in and aging out of foster care until age 23 to address immediate needs such as housing and food. They can also be used to help youth plan their future and connect with vital community resources. The current allocation of funds does not meet the needs of youth. An increase by $500 million would allow states to provide assistance to youth immediately.
  • Providing flexibility to key programs that aid transition aged youth so that more youth can be served for longer periods of time. Congress should waive the work and education requirements for transition age youth in Title IV-E extended foster care. The help they need shouldn’t be contingent on work and education during this crisis. Congress should also extend IV-E reimbursement until a youth turns 22, so that states can provide needed services and not discharge youth during the crisis.

Advocacy Groups Launch #UpChafee Campaign To Urge Congress to Take Action for Youth in Foster Care

April 3, 2020

Advocates and young people urge Congress to ensure young people transitioning to adulthood in foster care are able to survive the hardships caused by the crisis by increasing funding for transition-age youth programs and services in the next stimulus bill and providing flexibility in the supports available to these youth such as extended foster care.

Press release here.

FosterClub webinar on #UpChafee here.

A Joint Statement on Child Welfare Courts During a Public Health Crisis

March 31

Issued by Children’s Advocacy Institute, Children’s Rights, Juvenile Law Center, National Association of Counsel for Children, National Center for Youth Law, Youth Law Center,

This letter titled, “Access to Justice and Advocacy are Critical Anchors During Uncertain Times,” offers recommendations on assessing and safeguarding the needs and rights of every young person and family member experiencing dependency court involvement.

Letter here.

National, State, Local Sign-on Letter to Congress Asking for Emergency Investments in Child Welfare

A group of national, state, and local organizations dedicated to the well-being of vulnerable children and families has written a Letter to Congress to urge immediate Congressional action in support of families involved in child welfare, and the organizations that serve them, as they manage the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.  Organizations are invited to join in signing the letter (Sign on here).  

The letter highlights the need the following investments:

  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title II Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CB-CAP) grants by $1 billion to quickly deploy resources directly to locally-driven prevention services and programs.
  • Increase funding to Title IV-B, Part 2, the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families Program (PSSF) by $1 billion
  • Ensure the FMAP rate increase is provided to the new Title IV-E Prevention Program.
  • Increase funding to kinship navigator programs by $20 million to ensure access to information and resources for older relative caregivers at acute risk of COVID-19, such as food, health and safety supplies, and other necessities.
  • Increase funding to CAPTA Title I by $500 million to ensure state and local child protection systems can adapt to these new circumstances while continuing to respond quickly to the reports of child abuse and address barriers to ordinary service delivery during the pandemic.
  • Increase funding to the Court Improvement Program (CIP) by $30 million to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the functioning of child welfare courts.
  • Increase funding to Title IV-E Chafee funds by $500 million to allow states additional funding to support older youth in care and transitioning out of care.

Further, we support the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) Coalition request to increase funding to the Social Services Block Grant by several billion dollars to help states provide critical services and supports tailored to the needs of their community, including child protective services, child abuse prevention services, and foster care. These funds can fill in gaps not covered elsewhere and backfill many human services, given the flexibility of SSBG. This should also include a set-aside for Tribes, which does not currently exist

To read the letter or to sign-on, please click here.