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Latest stimulus bill provides much-needed COVID relief for transition aged foster youth

Thanks to the advocacy of thousands of young leaders throughout the nation, including Fostering Advocates Arizona, the latest federal stimulus package, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, contains much-needed COVID relief for young people transitioning from foster care.

Key provisions in the package include:

  • Moratorium on Exits from Foster Care Due to Age: No young person can be required to leave foster care because of age (i.e., they turned 21) and young people who “aged-out” during the pandemic and are still under age 22 must be allowed to re-enter foster care. The moratorium is in place through September 30, 2021, the end of the federal fiscal year.
  • Increased Funding and Expansion of the Chafee Foster Care Program: The John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood provides funds to states for material and other supports for current and former foster youth, such as direct financial assistance, meeting basic needs, housing, education, and employment support. The stimulus package provides $400M in additional funds, approximately $10M of which will flow to Arizona. The new law also removes the state match requirement, increases the upper age of eligibility to age 27, and lifts a 30% cap on the amount of funds that can be used to provide room and board to young people who are between the ages of 18 and 27 and who have experienced foster care at age 14 or older. These provisions are in effect until the end of the federal fiscal year 2021.
  • Provisions to Notify Young People and Streamline Access to Assistance: Importantly, states must notify young people about expanded Chafee eligibility and services, the moratorium, and the ability to re-enter care if under age 22. States may not require that young people show that their need for assistance is directly related to the pandemic if it would be administratively burdensome or otherwise delay or impede the ability of a state to serve foster youth.

The Act contains additional provisions to assist transition-age foster youth during the pandemic as well as provisions related to supporting child welfare systems more broadly. (Click here for a summary prepared by the Juvenile Law Center.)

CAA applauds Fostering Advocates Arizona and their peers across the country for their advocacy and persistence in ensuring that the needs of transition-age foster youth during the pandemic are met and calls on the Department of Child Safety to leverage the expertise of these young people as it plans for and implements the new law.

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