The COVID-19 crisis endangers young people transitioning out of foster care–without continued assistance, they will fall through the cracks. Foster youth already face increased odds for homelessness, unemployment, and other negative outcomes. As policymakers at both the state and federal level consider how to implement protections for American families from the economic and societal consequences of the pandemic, they must not forget about our nation’s foster youth preparing to age out of the system.
A few states — Connecticut, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, South Carolina, and Indiana— have already put policies in place to stop youth from aging out during the crisis. Governors who have not yet acted must follow their lead, and do it now.
Children’s Rights and other national advocates are asking our states to:
- Increase Chafee Funding by 500 million–Congress needs to feel the pressure to incorporate funding for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, which helps young people discharged from foster care access housing, education, financial support, and other lifelines, as part of any future stimulus packages.
- Extend the Age of Eligibility for Chafee Aftercare Services to Age 23 for All Youth–Flexible Chafee funds can be used to meet many of the immediate needs of young people who are still making the transition to adulthood.
- Suspend Participation Requirements for Young People in Extended Foster Care–Any requirements for extended care related to participation in school, training or treatment must be suspended. No youth should be denied care because COVID-19 has shuttered these programs.
- Place a Moratorium on Discharges from the Foster Care System for Youth Ages 18-21–By providing young people the safety and security of maintaining their current living arrangements and services, they will be in the best position to stay healthy and continue working towards their goals for their future.
- Allow States to Draw Down Title IV-E funds until a Young Person Reaches Age 22–Ensure that young people are not cut off from housing and services when they need it the most.
Nationwide, approximately 1,400 youth in foster care “age out” on their own each month and face an uncertain future if discharged during this public health crisis. Demand support for these young people so they can make it through this crisis, stay healthy and thrive.
Take Action Today
Here are four easy ways to share your message and help raise concerns for older foster youth.
Sign the petition
Policymakers must not forget about our nation’s foster youth preparing to age out of the system. The COVID-19 crisis endangers young people and without continued assistance, they will fall through the cracks. We need the power of your voice to ensure every US governor hears the message!
Join us in telling governors older youth must not age out. Add your voice.
Email your representative
I am writing to ask that you take action to meet the health and safety needs of older youth in the foster care system and youth who are aging out. In the midst of this current pandemic, youth in foster care and alumni are being disconnected from work, school, and external support systems. Lacking family support, they are at risk of losing housing, and even their lives. You have an opportunity to provide a safety net for young people at a time when they need it the most. Urgent action is needed to make sure that young people stay healthy and are not harmed by the crisis.
Youth leaving the care of the child welfare system are among the most vulnerable in our state and that vulnerability has increased during the current public health crisis.
Even without the backdrop of a global pandemic, they are more susceptible to homelessness and unemployment: more than 1 in 5 young people who age out of foster care will be homeless after age 18, while at age 24, only half are employed. Youth who have aged out of care recently and who will leave the system during the COVID-19 crisis are at higher risk for homelessness, lack of income, instability, and illness.
We must stop youth from aging out of foster care and provide the safety net systems they need to keep them safe and thrive. Our youth must not be forgotten during this crisis.
Tweet your representatives
Youth who #AgeOut of #FosterCare work tirelessly to make it to college, gain employment, and secure housing. Without support NOW, their progress in beating the odds could be derailed by #COVID19. #ChildWelfareCOVID #NoAgingOut
Young people in and leaving #FosterCare are incredibly vulnerable and being hit hard by the #COVID19 pandemic, as many do not have family support during these difficult times. #SupportFosterYouth #ChildWelfareCOVID #NoAgingOut
Engage your Facebook community
Young people in and aging out of foster care have been hit hard by COVID-19. Without family to turn to, young people should have access to support and services so they can make it through this crisis healthy and ready to thrive. A few states — Connecticut, Illinois, California, Rhode Island, Michigan, Ohio, and South Carolina — have already put policies in place to stop youth from aging out during the crisis. Governors who have not yet acted must follow their lead, and do it now. #NoAgingOut #SupportFosterYouth #ChildWelfareCOVID
We need the power of your voice to ensure every governor hears the message!
Last week we joined forces with other national advocates, sending a letter to Congress asking for aid to our older youth. Our state governors have a role to play too.
Contact your state governor today:
Don’t know who they are? Find your state governor using the link below. Enter your address and look for the contact button:
Tell your governor you need them to #SupportFosterYouth. You can send a message like this:
Young people in and aging out of foster care have been hit hard by COVID-19. State Governors must provide emergency assistance by preventing youth from aging out of foster care during this crisis.
**Be sure to insert your own reasons about why foster youth deserve support!**
REMEMBER – the more you SHARE, the more YOUNG PEOPLE’S VOICES are heard!