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Youth Villages endorses bipartisan bill to extend COVID-19 benefits for young people who have experienced foster care

Sep 20, 2021 | News Releases, Pressroom

Youth Villages is endorsing a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to extend the targeted relief to children, youth and families significantly impacted by the COVID-19 emergency under the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act, passed in December 2020. It would extend the many flexibilities the law provides until Sept. 30, 2022. Additionally, it would appropriate additional funding for critical relief to transition-age young people in foster care and protect youth from aging out of foster care or not being able to re-enter care during the pandemic. Without the extension, the benefits provided in the bill will expire at the end of this month.

Why foster youth still need support

Young people in and aging out of foster care still need support to weather this pandemic. Many youth across the nation still have not received the pandemic financial assistance that they advocated for throughout 2020. According to a survey by John Burton Advocates for Youth, 68% of young people experienced a negative impact on their employment, 63% reported not getting any federal relief payments, 50% reported a negative impact on their mental health, 22% reported food insecurity, and 100% of youth reported a negative impact on their education. These issues and so many more could be addressed under an extension of the Chafee pandemic flexibilities.

How the legislation will help

The Chafee Extension legislation (H.R. 5167) would help older youth get through the pandemic by:

  • Increasing Chafee funding by an additional $400 million.
  • Keeping the extension of the age of eligibility for Chafee services to age 27.
  • Keeping the suspension of the work and school requirements for youth in extended foster care.
  • Upholding the moratorium on aging out of foster care.
  • Extending the funding and all flexibilities for the Chafee and ETV program until Sept. 30, 2022.

Support the legislation

Many organizations including FosterClub, Youth Law Center, Think of Us, and the National Foster Youth Institute have endorsed the legislation. State and national organizations dedicated to the safety and well-being of children, youth and families who are in – or at risk of entering – the child welfare systems, are invited to sign onto this letter of support.

“The much-needed pandemic relief approved by Congress for foster youth is just now reaching some young people. Many will not receive help if deadlines in the original legislation are not extended. All of us at Youth Villages are supporting efforts to help states identify eligible foster youth and provide relief as quickly as possible,” said Patrick Lawler, Youth Villages CEO. “But Congress needs to act now to allow more time to reach the foster youth who need help most. We endorse this legislation and will work with Congress to help foster youth overcome challenges and reach their full potential.”

No one can get through this pandemic alone

In the best of times, we all know that many young people who reach adulthood in foster care struggle to meet their basic needs and lack family support. Youth have advocated so hard to get targeted relief and just as real relief efforts are getting underway, and states are reaching their young people, the flexibilities that will allow them to do it, are about to expire. This is a great disservice to youth across the country and it cannot happen while the pandemic is still ongoing and ever-changing. Youth Villages is grateful that Congressman Jim Langevin and the other Co-Chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, Reps. Karen Bass, Brenda Lawrence, Don Bacon, and Markwayne Mullin for hearing the voices of state administrators, nonprofits, and older foster youth across the country asking for more time to ensure that relief reaches the youth that have been in need since the pandemic began. We believe every young person should have the support they need to reach their goals in adulthood. That is why Youth Villages is proud to be an early supporter of this bipartisan effort from the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.

For more information on the legislation or to learn about how you can advocate for young people, see here.