Bipartisan House Bill Will Provide Critical Supports to Help Transition-Age Foster Youth and Kin Navigate Pandemic
On Friday, August 7, 2020, the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R.7947) was released. This bipartisan legislation, introduced by Rep. Danny K. Davis (D-IL) and Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN), provides critical emergency support for older foster youth and grandparents and kin raising children. It aligns with Children’s Action Alliance’s COVID-19 policy recommendations and will provide urgently needed federal resources to help children, youth, and families navigate the difficulties created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Key provisions of the legislation include:
Support for Older Youth
Each year, approximately 900 young people age out of the foster care system in Arizona. COVID-19 has made the already challenging transition to independence even more perilous for these young people. In addition to increasing funding for supportive services to transition-age foster youth, H.R. 7947 will allow young people to stay in the system past the age of 20 and permit those who “aged-out” during the pandemic to voluntarily re-enter the system to access critical housing and support services during the public health emergency.
Support for Grandparents and Other Kin Raising Children
In Arizona, nearly 6,000 children in foster care are placed with kin and an additional 200,000 children are being raised by kin outside of the foster care system. H.R. 7947provides 100 percent federal reimbursement for funds to carry out kinship navigator programs. CAA strongly supports kinship navigator programs because they link kinship caregivers to the information and resources they need to function at their full potential, including:
- access to information and resources for necessities, including food, safety supplies, and testing and treatment for COVID–19;
- access to technology to support remote learning or other activities that must be carried out virtually due to COVID-19,
- health care and other assistance, including legal assistance and assistance with making alternative care plans for children in the event the caregiver becomes unable to continue providing care,
- services to kinship families, including those outside of the child welfare system.
Help older foster youth and grandparents and kin raising children and urge Arizona Senators Sinema and McSally, to include this proposal in their negotiations for the next COVID-19 relief package.