By Megan Conn, The Imprint, January 13, 2021
Ten months into a deadly pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on society and the economy, a federal relief package bundled extra child welfare money to states with a new rule: You can’t let foster youth age out into adulthood during the ongoing coronavirus emergency.
The news was welcomed by New York child welfare advocates, who had spent much of the past year appealing to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) for a statewide moratorium on aging out of foster care during these devastating times, with only modest results. Previously, the most tangible action came in July, when New York child welfare commissioner Sheila Poole directed county social services departments to reallocate existing funds to offer continued placement or other supports to foster youth turning 21 who had “imminent need.”
“I am thrilled that the federal government has made clear that young people should not be leaving foster care just because they turn 21 in the middle of this pandemic, and that they should stay in foster care until they have safe and stable housing,” said Betsy Kramer, director of public policy and special litigation at Lawyers for Children. Kramer also called on the Office of Children and Family Services to provide guidance to counties on how to implement the policy.