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Rep. Bass Applauds Inclusion of Foster Youth Grants In Omnibus Relief Bill

December 28, 2020
Press Release
WASHINGTON - Today, Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) issued the following statement after the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act was passed in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“This pandemic has exposed the most vulnerable populations in our country – especially the nearly half a million young people in our child welfare system and those who ‘age out’ of foster care every year. This bill will provide emergency temporary supports and flexibilities for older foster youth, grandparents raising grandchildren & other kinship families, home visiting for at-risk pregnant & parenting families, foster care prevention services, and other child welfare services through the end of 2021. We are encouraged that direct relief will be delivered to these communities in need.”

COVID-19 Child Welfare Provisions:

Increases funding and provides support for older youth who experienced foster care:

  • Provides $350 million for the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) to support older foster youth and youth transitioning into adulthood.
  • Provides $50 million for the Educational & Training Vouchers Program and increases maximum award amount to $12,000 per youth.
  • Temporarily waives state match requirement for additional Chafee funding.
  • Raises the maximum age for Chafee-eligible former foster youth through age 26.
  • Provides temporary program flexibilities, including lifting the 30 percent spending cap on housing costs and accommodating pandemic-related disruptions in work and education.

Prevents children from aging out of foster care and being at risk of homelessness during the pandemic:

  • Prohibits states from requiring a child to leave foster care solely due to their age during the pandemic.
  • For youth who have “aged out” of foster care during the pandemic, requires states to permit youth to voluntarily re-enter care.
  • Allows states to use additional Chafee funds to offset costs caused by these requirements for youth not eligible for federal matching funds.

Expands access to Family First Prevention Services:

  • During the public health emergency, waives state match for evidence-based mental health, substance abuse, and parenting skill services, to allow states to invest in prevention services that keep children safely at home.

Provides emergency funding for the MaryLee Allen Promoting Safe and Stable Families program:

  • Provides $85 million and waives state match for additional funds to support family preservation, family reunification, adoption, and other supportive services.

Expands funding for the Court Improvement Program:

  • Provides an additional $10 million for courts handling child welfare cases and temporary flexibilities to conduct virtual hearings, and waives the state match for the new funds.

Expands access to kinship navigator programs:

  • During the public health emergency, waives the state match and allows states to use models not yet in the Evidence Clearinghouse for kinship navigator programs, to provide greater access to federal funding to support grandparents and kin caregivers.

Makes technical corrections needed in response to FMAP increase:

  • Makes a technical correction to Title IV-E treatment of the 6.2% Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) increase for Family First Transition Act funding.
  • Makes a technical correction to apply the 6.2% FMAP rate increase to the District of Columbia's foster care program in the same way it applies to states.

Additional Child Welfare Provisions:

Provides stable housing opportunities for young people age out of foster care:

  • Provides three-year FUP vouchers to all young people who are between the ages of 18 and 24 and leaving foster care who are at risk of homelessness—with the opportunity to extend those vouchers by two years (for a total of five years) by voluntarily participating in self-sufficiency activities.

Makes higher education more accessible by simplifying the FAFSA process:

  • Simplifies the needs analysis for education expenses so that no family contribution is required for anyone who is eligible for a maximum Pell grant award or for families eligible for means-tested family support programs like SSI, WIC, TANF, and SNAP.
  • Makes it easier for former foster youth to establish independent status.