Immediate challenges due to COVID-19 pandemic
- COVID-19 poses a serious threat to maintaining family and placement stability through multiple increased pressures.
- Most children in foster care are in family based settings, however, 1 in 3 teens in foster care lives in a group setting. During a time when many young people are able to rely on their families for support, youth in group care settings must rely on case workers and agencies to ensure their safety, health, and well-being. Access to services such as education, healthcare, visitation with siblings and parents is critical as youth are more isolated than ever
- Without targeted support, youth who reach adulthood in foster care during the COVID-19 crisis are at high risk for homelessness, lack of income, instability and illness.
- 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.
- Increase Title IV-E Chafee funding by $500 million to meet basic needs of transition-age youth: housing, food, and other material supports. 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, which have increased significantly during the national emergency. An increase by 500 million would allow states to provide assistance to youth immediately. See here for details on the #UpChafee campaign.
- Providing flexibility to key programs that aid transition aged youth so that more youth can be served for longer periods of time. Federal and state policies should waive or suspend work and education requirements for transition age youth in Title IV-E extended foster care so the continuity of their housing and related services are not contingent on work and school involvement during this crisis. Further, policies should: enable young people to re-enter extended foster care during this emergency and to have an expedited process to do so, including through voluntary placements that do not require court approval. Extended foster care should be available to youth to age 22, to avoid any young people currently being served from being discharged. Policies should direct or encourage state agencies to develop mechanisms to release funds quickly and in real-time directly to youth, including, but not limited to Title IV-E funds for youth in extended foster care for placement and supports, Chafee funds for an array of supports, and any additional funds allocated for emergency or urgent needs.