When COVID-19 first took hold of the United States, those working with and for youth in foster care (not to mention youth in foster care) knew that special attention would be needed to help this population through the pandemic. In particular, transition-age youth - those on the cusp of adulthood - would need a safety net to help ensure their needs were met ongoing. And so, the #UpChafee Campaign was started.
Chafee services are federally mandated services offered to youth who are or were in foster care on or after their 14th birthday. The programs are designed to help prepare the youth for their transition to adulthood by teaching them a variety of life skills and offering assistance with education, employment and housing, as possible.
The #UpChafee campaign advocated for additional support for transition-age youth by extending foster care supports and increasing funding for the Chafee services already in place. On August 7, that campaign took one huge step forward. Representatives Danny Davis (D-Ill) and Jackie Walorski (R-In.) introduced the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act. The legislation would, among other things, provide $400 million in funding for FY2020 and place a moratorium on aging out of foster care due to age during the pandemic.
While the introduction of a bill with bipartisan support is a great sign, it is not the conclusion of the #UpChafee Campaign. More needs to be done to help pass the legislation - and that more includes you. Contact your state representatives. Urge them to support the bill. Speak out about the needs of transition-age youth and the impact COVID-19 has and will continue to have on them. These youth deserve our help.