On Thursday, September 9, 2021, the National Foster Youth Institute (NFYI) hosted a Congressional Briefing with Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth Co-chair, Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI). Kenneth Chancey, Policy Manager of NFYI, organized this Congressional Briefing to highlight H.R. 5167. In this legislation, Chafee pandemic funding would extend into 2022, including access to increased funding eligibility to extended youth in foster care up to age 27. Congressional sponsors including Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) and Brenda Lawrence (D-MI), and Congressman Don Bacon (R-NE) and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), along with Congressman Jim Langevin believes that there is an “obligation to provide for foster youth the same way we would our own children.”
The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 had an overwhelming impact on housing instability, food insecurity, and employment hardships, resulting in 74 percent of youth in foster care reporting high degrees of financial insecurity. As reported by Foster Club, 20 percent of youth in foster care shared a lack of support from family or various networks, 66 percent of youth additionally report an increase in anxiety and mental crises. Without the passing of H.R. 5167, support for these youth through these challenging circumstances will cease on September 30, 2021.
Arguably the most challenging aspect of foster care are the young individuals that “fall through the cracks.” Lived-Experience Panelist Stephen Baines and Liz Villa heavily emphasized the importance of these services being extended as much of the additional income that youth in foster care received abruptly ended with the loss of employment due to the pandemic. These effects continue to negatively impact youth in foster care, and as September 30, 2021, rapidly approaches, the financial future of youth in foster care is uncertain. Although the support of extended outreach programs offers temporary service for these youth, extending Chafee is the best step forward in providing financial stability for youth in foster care.