Dear Colleagues: An Open Letter

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Advocates Urge Child Welfare Agencies to Implement the Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act

Young people with experience in foster care have suffered significantly as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Supporting Foster Youth and Families Through the Pandemic Act was passed on December 27, 2020 as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 following months of advocacy by young people. This law promises to provide relief to young people by: prohibiting states from terminating services to young people due to age (moratorium on aging out); requiring that states allow young people to re-enter foster care; and providing $400 million in additional Chafee funding to meet the immediate needs of young people, including direct financial assistance, housing, and other supports.

Advocates and young people are thrilled with the passage of the law and are looking forward to relief reaching young people. However, over a month after the effective date of the law young people have yet to experience the benefits of the law in large numbers. The Children’s Bureau issued an Information Memorandum (IM) on January 13, 2021, which provides a summary of federal law. The Dear Colleague Letter issued by advocates across the country urges state and local child welfare agencies to proceed with implementation of the law without delay and highlights our best thinking on areas to take action on so that young people can get the benefit of the relief that the law intended.

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.