On May 26, 2020, the Children’s Bureau released guidance to Child Welfare Directors describing how title IV-E agencies can utilize enhanced foster care programs during the COVID-19 pandemic to support youth who have left or may leave foster care.

In the letter, Jerry Milner stated that “the available flexibilities include allowing states to opt into the title IV-E extended foster care program through a simplified process. In addition, agencies may request flexibility to provide title IV-E payments to otherwise eligible youth ages 18 – 21 who are unable to meet the program’s education and employment eligibility requirements as a result of the pandemic.” For the thirty-one states and the District of Columbia who has extended foster care programs, Milner encourages them to review the current IV-E program better to serve the needs of youth during the COVID-19 pandemic. He advises child welfare agencies to:

1. “Allow youth to re-enter the extended foster care program as quickly as possible;
2. Consider and develop other placement solutions for older youth, including using host homes models;
3. Extend foster care to youth from other states;
4. Provide enhanced services to youth who are pregnant or parenting and;
5. Connect with all youth, between the ages of 18 to 21, who is not currently in foster care.”

Milner emphasized that the Children’s Bureau is pleased to support child welfare agencies’ efforts by providing additional flexibilities in the program’s operation. He also reminded Directors that the federal government is able to pay a greater share of the costs for title IV-E foster care maintenance payments during the public health crisis due to the temporary 6.2 percentage point increase in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) rate.