On Wednesday, July 30, 2022, the Congressional Coalition on Adoption institute (CCAI) held their annual Foster Youth Internship Program Congressional Briefing webinar. The FYI program serves as a platform to uplift the voices of current and former foster youth in federal policy to engage and educate Members of Congress on the issues of foster care and adoption and empower Foster Youth Interns to be advocates. This summer, seven current and former foster youth interns (FYI 2022 cohort) spent time researching policy issues affecting children and youth in the U.S. foster care system. Each intern focused on a different issue area within the system. These issue areas include:

  • Preventing correlation between trauma + physical chronic health conditions,
  • Teens in foster care facing heightened risks of life-time recidivism,
  • Educational reform via free college tuition fee waivers, loan forgiveness, and accessibility,
  • Expediting services and funds for youth to be more immediate,
  • Housing insecurity among youth transitioning out of foster care,
  • Risk of foster youth placement in homes with harmful environments, and
  • Extending federal Chafee foster care eligibility to age 26.

After concluding their research, each intern formulated policy recommendations to present to Members of Congress. Recommendations include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensure continuous access to high-quality healthcare and health navigators for all youth in care,
  • Improved training for service providers and caregivers of youth in foster care
  • Request a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report focused on the overlaps between child welfare and juvenile justice,
  • Ensure that youth in foster care have adequate legal representation in court,
  • Allow Chafee dollars to support a monthly housing allowance with a stability clause that will provide up to four months of housing allowance every year,
  • Allow states to use their Chafee and ETV dollars flexibly and with the input of young people with experience in foster care,
  • Encourage states to use ALL of their Chafee funding each fiscal year,
  • Request the GAO explore how eligibility requirements and application processes across different federal benefit programs can be streamlined,
  • Require states prepare a comprehensive list of eligible resources for transition-aged youth,
  • Ensure every young person up to age 26 has access to affordable, stable housing after exiting the foster care system,
  • Limit the universal screening program for housing assistance by requiring that the FYI vouchers become part of a mandatory transition planning for all young people leaving foster care.

View the full FYI 2022 cohort policy report, Well-Being in Action: Expanding Equitable Access to Comprehensive Supports for Foster Youth, for the full list of recommendations.

By Taylor Savage, Policy Intern