Ways and Means Leaders Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Provide Emergency Support for Foster Youth and Child Welfare Services
Today, House Ways and Means Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Jackie Walorski (R-IN) introduced the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act to provide additional support for older foster youth, grandparents & other kinship families, home visiting for at-risk pregnant and parenting families, foster care prevention services, and other child welfare services.
In the United States, more than 400,000 children are currently in foster care, and approximately 20,000 young people age out of foster care each year. The COVID-19 pandemic has left young people in transition from foster care to adulthood particularly vulnerable, many of whom already face significant life challenges.
"Young people in foster care, especially those aging out, face a range of risks and challenges, and the COVID-19 crisis has only made this crucial time of transition more perilous," said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard E. Neal (D-MA). "This bipartisan legislation supports vulnerable foster youth, and it includes important supports to help families stay together and keep kids safe, home, and out of the foster care system in the first place. Chairman Davis and Rep. Walorski have long been leaders on foster care issues, and I am grateful that they continue to put forward comprehensive measures like the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act during these extraordinarily difficult times for families."
"Our Committee took bold, bipartisan action in 2017 to transform our country's foster care system through the Family First Prevention Services Act. COVID-19 has presented us with unforeseen challenges -- especially for older kids transitioning out of foster care -- and I'm proud that once again our Committee is coming together with this bill to provide immediate relief and certainty to the thousands of young people in our foster care system," the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee Kevin Brady (R-TX) said.
Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Chairman Danny K. Davis (D-IL) said, "Youth and their families in the foster care system, many of whom are survivors of trauma, are facing new stresses in every aspect of their living situation due to the dual COVID-19-related economic and health crises. The cornerstone of the bill provides substantial aid to older foster youth and prevents mandatory "aging out' of care during the pandemic. I commend these young adults for their advocacy for these important provisions. This bill also helps states strengthen families with services to keep children safe and families together, and it provides resources for grandparents and other kin caregivers. Advocating for vulnerable youth and families is a bipartisan issue, and I am proud to partner with Ranking Member Walorski on this bill that helps so many during this emergency."
"America's most vulnerable children and families face unique challenges even in normal times, but the coronavirus crisis presents even more obstacles to overcome," Ranking Member of the Worker and Family Support Subcommittee Jackie Walorski (R-IN) said. "We need to take action now to help them through the pandemic so they can build a stronger, more stable future. This bipartisan bill will provide much-needed additional support for foster youth and families, at-risk pregnant women and mothers, and kinship caregivers, including grandparents. I'm grateful to Chairman Davis for his partnership in building on past reforms to help families thrive."
According to a poll conducted by FosterClub, a national network of young people from foster care, just 37 percent of transition-aged youth from foster care have had family members to rely on during the crisis. One in five youth reported that they are entirely on their own. In particular, the sudden loss of on-campus housing has been difficult for foster youth who are already at risk of homelessness due to the lack of family, economic supports, and other safety nets available to their peers. A significant number of young people have been forced to leave campus without the time, funds, or connections to find safe, alternative housing.
This bill will provide states with the resources and flexibility needed to meaningfully meet the immediate needs of youth and young adults during this crisis including financial assistance, housing, and employment assistance.