Foster Youth Delivered Petition to Distribute Federal Relief Funds
Today, Fostering Advocates Arizona (FAAZ), a group of policy leaders with lived experience in foster care, delivered a petition signed by nearly 600 Arizonans to Governor Doug Ducey and Department of Child Safety (DCS) Director Mike Faust urging them to use federal COVID relief funds to provide young people who aged-out of foster care with a $500 check. In early March, the state received $10.5M in additional funding to help older and former foster youth get through the pandemic, but to date, less than $1M has made it into the hands of young people and time is running out for former foster youth ages 21 through 26 who will lose eligibility for the funds on September 30th.
The $10.5M is Arizona’s share of a $400M allocation included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, passed by Congress late last year. For months, Fostering Advocates Arizona supported by community allies, have been lobbying DCS to use a portion of the funds to provide no-strings-attached payments to young people who aged out of foster care. The group presented its comprehensive set of recommendations for implementing the older youth provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act to DCS Director Mike Faust in April. The proposal included distributing the funds through a $500 stimulus-style check for anyone 18 through 26 who aged out of foster care in Arizona as well as making additional needs-based funding available to those who need more help. DCS, however, has not adopted the two-tier distribution strategy and instead is relying only on a needs-based application process that has been troubled.
The federal guidance for these funds recognizes that many young people who are in or were in foster care have not benefitted from other COVID-19 relief, such as stimulus payments and unemployment insurance, and urges states to use a portion of the funds for quick, streamlined direct financial support. A growing number of states are doing just that, but Arizona has still not embraced the idea even as time is running short. Nikki Burgess, a member of the FAAZ Young Adult Leadership Board, urges, “When FAAZ met with Director Faust he assured us he would consider stimulus payments if warranted at a later date. That day is now. We are asking Governor Ducey and Director Faust to help us and other youth make it through this challenging time by providing a $500 payment. Please act before it is too late.”
Show your support for the FAAZ $500 payment by tweeting the below message:
Foster youth need stimulus too. @dougducey, @ArizonaDCS it's time to #ReleaseTheFunds and support foster youth today! #FAAZ500