Citing the issue as “absolutely urgent”, Congresswoman Karen Bass along with Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE), Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), and Congressman Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), have introduced legislation to double emergency support for foster youth under the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program to $800 million and extend programmatic flexibilities through the 2022 fiscal year.
According to statistics, 20% of the children who were in foster care will become instantly homeless after reaching the age of 18 and 40-50% of former foster youth become homeless within 18 months after leaving care.
“The Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth has been hearing from young people across the country that they haven’t received desperately needed relief due to the spread of the Delta variant. It is incumbent upon Congress to extend Chafee COVID relief for foster youth and flexibilities for states through September 2022,” said Rep. Karen Bass.
“This bill also includes an extension of the moratorium on aging out of foster care during the pandemic and appropriates additional relief and support for states to extend the moratorium on aging out of care.”
As a foster to adopt parent, Rep. Don Bacon (R-NE) said he knew first-hand the importance of the Chafee Foster Care program and strongly supported additional emergency funding
“Each year, tens of thousands of children age out of the foster care system without the security or support of a permanent family leading many to homelessness, which is being exacerbated due to COVID,” said Bacon. “Our youth are important to the future of this country, and we cannot leave any behind due to circumstances beyond their control.”
“Current and former foster youth – many of whom do not have family members or other support systems to rely on during times of crisis — have faced significantly higher rates of unemployment, housing instability, and disrupted education throughout the pandemic,” said Rep. Jim Langevin.
“Extending and increasing Chafee funding will provide these vulnerable young people with the direct assistance they need to get through this pandemic.”
The legislation would also:
- Allow states to access emergency funding without providing proof that expenses have a direct connection to the pandemic;
- Waive requirement that a student must be enrolled or making satisfactory progress in a postsecondary education or training program to receive Education and Training Voucher (ETV) funds;
- Allow ETV funds to cover additional costs, beyond the cost of attendance, to help youth remain enrolled in higher education;
- Allow states to use more than 30% of their Chafee funds on room and board and expand eligibility for housing assistance;
- Affirm that Chafee funds may be used to provide driving and transportation assistance.