On Wednesday, March 3, 2021, FosterClub, Juvenile Law Center with California Youth Connection, the John Burton Advocates for Youth, ACTION Ohio, and the Ohio Youth Advisory Board hosted a webinar on how to impact the implementation of the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act. Specifically, the organizations provided tips for getting implementation moving in the states and emphasized the importance of youth engagement and leadership.
The Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act, introduced by Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN), was intended to meet young people’s needs during the coronavirus pandemic. As of February 22nd, Chafee supplemental allocations reached states, tribes, and jurisdictions. Currently, the law is in effect, and many of the provisions do not need guidance moving forward, these provisions include moratorium and re-entry; however, many are waiting on program instruction from the federal government. Further, advocacy at the state level is crucial to the implementation of the Older Youth Provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.
Advocates from Ohio and California have been proactive and persistent in their advocacy. On the webinar, the advocates emphasized every state’s uniqueness; Ohio, specifically, operates in a county system versus a state system that produces the need to approach advocacy differently. Another piece of advice mentioned was a multi-pronged advocacy plan utilizing a variety of advocacy models, including the press, social media campaigns, partnering with other advocates, and engaging alumni foster youth. A two-level advocacy strategy was also proposed. At one level, advocates would utilize big picture talking points of disbursing funds to young people as quickly as possible; meanwhile, at the other level, focusing on the important details of navigating the bureaucracy that moves funds out the door. Overall, Ohio and California advocates emphasized the need to pressure states to move forward quickly in order to assist young people better.