A Way In: A Memo to the Biden Transition Team

young woman

Juvenile Law Center collaborated with over 20 national advocacy organizations to write A Way In For Young People Transitioning from Foster Care, a memo to the Biden Transition Team recommending six immediate actions the incoming administration can take to respond to the needs of transition age youth with experience in foster care. These young people have suffered greatly during the pandemic – especially the almost 20,000 individuals who age out of foster care each year without the support of family – but the need for radical reform of the services and systems for youth transitioning to adulthood predates the pandemic.

A Way In urges the Biden administration to take action in the first 100 days to both meet the immediate and urgent needs of young people during the pandemic and lay the foundation for broader policy change that allows young people in foster care to thrive with the support of their families and in their own communities. It articulates why such reforms are essential for advancing race equity in the United States, and it urges the administration to ensure the voices of individuals with lived experience are placed at the center of policymaking. The memo includes the following recommendations:

  1.  Issue a presidential proclamation acknowledging historic and systemic racism in child welfare and expressing commitment to building equity and better opportunities for youth and families involved with the child welfare system.
  2. Establish an Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within the Administration for Children and Families.
  3. Rescind executive and administrative orders promoting unlawful and harmful discrimination and undermining child well-being.
  4. Respond to the immediate needs of system-involved transition-age youth in crisis during the pandemic and recovery through the provision of concrete services and support like housing and financial assistance.
  5. Pave the way for federal reform by committing funds to a long-term policy agenda that provides transition age youth a “way in” to equity, opportunity, and success.
  6. Engage and empower individuals with lived experience to guide seminal reforms at the federal level.

Juvenile Law Center is currently working in partnership with other advocates to develop a follow up to the transition memo - a comprehensive blueprint for reform and transformation for transition age youth. This blueprint, which will be informed by feedback from young people who have experienced foster care, will provide specific and bold policy proposals aimed at both the Administration and U.S. Congress. It is due to be released in January.

About the Expert

Jennifer Pokempner is a Senior Attorney at Juvenile Law Center. At Juvenile Law Center, her work focuses on improving outcomes and opportunities for older youth in the foster care system through policy and legal advocacy at the local, state, and national levels.

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