U.S. House passes the Continued State Flexibility to Assist Older Foster Youth Act

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Key Takeaways

On October 27, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bipartisan Continued State Flexibility to Assist Older Foster Youth Act (H.R. 5661), which would extend key pandemic-related flexibilities in federal foster youth programs. Given our role in social service delivery and in fully or partially overseeing the child welfare system in 11 states, counties urge swift passage of H.R. 5661 in the U.S. Senate to ensure we have the tools and resources necessary to serve this vulnerable population for the remainder of the pandemic.

If enacted, H.R. 5661 would revive protections for current and former foster youth authorized as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (P.L. 116-260) that expired on October 1, 2021. The legislation would waive requirements for education and training vouchers through December 31, 2021. Additionally, through September 30, 2022, it would:

  • Waive funding restrictions for housing assistance
  • Help cover driver’s license costs
  • Increase to 26 the age of eligibility for foster care assistance
  • Continue to allow states to draw use program funds to prevent foster care youth from aging out of the system or allowing them to reenter during the pandemic

COVID-19 has created new challenges for county child welfare agencies as we work to implement new federal requirements for prevention services and congregate settings, connect children with kinship care givers and support Child Protective Services. It has also exacerbated structural barriers facing the nearly 20,000 youth aging out of foster care each year. Counties support this legislation to maintain flexibilities that have allowed us to adapt service delivery and increase resources for foster youth during the pandemic. NACo will continue to monitor the legislation and its progress.

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