On Monday, April 27, 2020, Associate Commissioner for the Children’s Bureau Jerry Milner, after receiving several inquiries related to the Title IV-E program on addressing the needs of children and youth during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced a series of actions states can take to help this population. Title IV-E agencies have the flexibility to allow youth to re-enter foster care after age 18. Milner encouraged Title IV-E agencies to utilize the existing flexibility under Title IV-E to better serve youth, stating the following:

“Re-entry into foster care after age 18: We encourage states and tribes to allow youth to re-enter an agency’s extended foster care program as quickly as possible and in a way that meets the developmental needs of youth, whether funded exclusively by the title IV-E agency or through the agency’s federally approved extended title IV-E FCMP program. Foster care may be a support for youth, providing them with a safe place to stay, subsidy (if in supervised independent living), and Medicaid. As a reminder, ACYF-CB-PI-10-11 details the requirements and flexibilities for extended title IV-E FCMPs, including how youth can meet the removal and placement and care requirements through voluntary placement agreements signed after the youth turns age 18.” States can close-out a young person’s case and re-open it so that eligibility is based on their income and not tied to the home of removal. Additionally, his memo outlined:

“Option to provide Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood Program (Chafee Program) services until age 23: As a reminder, a title IV-E agency that has an approved title IV-E plan amendment to serve youth in foster care until age 21 or that is operating a comparable program using state or tribal funds may extend Chafee Program services to youth up through their 23rd birthday (see section 477(b)(3) of the Act). In light of the extraordinary pressures the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on many young people who were formerly in foster care, we strongly encourage eligible title IV-E agencies to elect to increase Chafee Program eligibility to age 23. See ACYF-CB-PI-18-06 for more information on the requirements for extending Chafee Program payment eligibility to age 23.”

To read Associate Commissioner Milner’s full letter, click here.

CWLA has sent recommendations and information to Congress regarding the COVID-19 impact on child welfare. CWLA’s letter to Congressional leaders was developed based on conversations with large and small groups of members. We would like to also share this descriptive letter on the immediate needs that children and families need now. This is an evolving situation, and we will be providing additional input both formally and informally, so please continue to let us know the concerns you are facing in carrying out your missions.