Youth Villages stories
Congress targets COVID-19 stimulus relief to young people reaching adulthood in foster care
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (Dec. 22, 2020) – The final economic stimulus and COVID-19 relief package passed by the U.S. Congress last night included targeted relief for children, families and young people receiving help in state child welfare systems, said Youth Villages CEO Patrick Lawler.
The relief comes after an extended campaign by child welfare advocates and young people that gained bipartisan congressional support. Youth Villages joined forces with FosterClub, Juvenile Law Center, Children’s Defense Fund and more than 220 national, state, and youth-led organizations as part of the #UpChafee campaign. Young people in Youth Villages’ LifeSet program, which helps young people transitioning from foster care, shared their experiences with Members of Congress to help elected officials understand their unique COVID needs through meetings, congressional briefings, town halls, op-eds, and videos.
“We know that young people who reach adulthood in foster care struggle to meet basic needs during normal times. The pandemic has hit them really hard. They’ve lost jobs and work hours and they’re struggling with food and housing insecurity — most without any family supports,” Lawler said. “Congress has provided a lifeline for them, as well as support that will allow state child welfare systems to do more for children and families during pandemic times. This is a major victory for families and youth who are on the verge of aging out of foster care.”
The legislation includes $400 million in federal Chafee funds to provide states with the resources and flexibility needed to meet the immediate needs of transition-age youth during this crisis through financial assistance, housing, employment, and other assistance.
“This will allow young people to continue to receive support from state systems through age 26 and those who may have ‘aged out’ before or during the pandemic to re-enter extended foster care to receive the support they need to weather this national crisis,” Lawler said.
The legislation passed today incorporates the bipartisan Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947), introduced by the House Ways & Means Worker & Family Support Subcommittee Chairman, Danny Davis (D-IL), and Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-IN).
Provisions include temporary, targeted COVID-19 relief for foster youth during the pandemic:
- Allowing older youth to remain in foster care;
- Allowing re-entry into foster care up to age 22;
- Increasing Chafee by $400 million to meet immediate needs;
- Expanding Chafee eligibility through age 26;
- Waiving extended foster care work and school requirements;
- Lifting the 30% Chafee housing cap; and
- Increasing Education & Training Vouchers (ETVs) from $5,000 to $12,000 per person per year.
“We are grateful for Rep. Davis and Rep. Walorski who fought hard for months for this targeted COVID relief for foster youth during an intense negotiation period – and for the 54 other Members of Congress who stood up for foster youth in need by supporting this bill,” Lawler said. “These young people have amazing potential, and this support will help them overcome challenges that seem unsurmountable during this uncertain time. Now, we’ve got to get this assistance to older youth across the country who are experiencing the greatest needs during the pandemic.”
About Youth Villages
Youth Villages is a national leader in children’s mental and behavioral health committed to building strong families, delivering effective services, and significantly improving outcomes for children, families and young people involved in child welfare and juvenile justice systems across the country. Founded in 1986, the organization’s 3,000 employees help more than 30,000 children annually in 23 states and the District of Columbia. Youth Villages has been recognized by the Harvard Business School and U.S. News & World.
Report and was identified by The White House as one of the nation’s most promising results-oriented nonprofit organizations. Learn more at www.youthvillages.org
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