March 10, 2021 | UPDATE FROM JOHN BURTON ADVOCATES FOR YOUTH
John Burton Advocates for Youth improves the quality of life for youth in California who have been in foster care or homeless by advocating for better laws, training communities to strengthen local practices and conducting research to inform policy solutions.
Feds Issue Guidance on $47.3 Million in Pandemic Relief for California’s Older Youth in Foster Care
Yesterday, federal guidancewas issued by the Administration for Children and Families regarding an appropriation passed by Congress in late December, which included $400 million in supplemental funding for older youth in foster care and new state requirements to assist them during the pandemic.
The policy guidance requires states to prevent youth from “aging out” during the pandemic and facilitate re-entry into foster care for youth who aged out any time after January 27, 2020. The guidance also requires states to waive participation conditions that would make youth ineligible for foster care and lastly, provides an additional $400 million in funding to the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee Program), of which $50 million is reserved for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher Program (ETVs).
According to policy guidance, California has been allocated $41,280,260 for the Chafee Program and allocated $6,000,000 for ETVs. Federal guidance requires the funds to be liquidated by December 30, 2022
California advocates, including John Burton Advocates for Youth, have made policy recommendations about the use of the additional funding, prioritizing the direct payment to youth to address their urgent needs during the pandemic. The policy guidance supports this approach and “urges all child welfare agencies receiving the additional Chafee grant to consider using at least a portion of the funds to facilitate quick and streamlined access to direct financial support for youth who were or are in foster care.”
$1,400 Stimulus Payment and Expanded Tax Credits for TAY Pass the Senate
The $1.9 trillion relief package, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (H.R.1319), passed the U.S. Senate on Saturday and will now move to President Joe Biden to be signed into law. Relief includes a $1,400 stimulus payment per eligible individual and expands and modifies some federal tax credits to put money back into the pockets of current and former foster youth, students, and homeless youth.
Specific reforms impacting transition age youth in the plan include making all foster and homeless youth ages 18 and older eligible for the federal Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and for all young adults beginning at age 19. Full-time students will be able to claim the EITC as well. The maximum credit will be raised to $1,502 and the federal Child Tax Credit will also be increased for parenting youth.
To qualify for these tax credits transition age youth will need to file their taxes. JBAY has materials available to support youth in understanding what is needed to file, how to schedule a free tax appointment with local VITA sites, and how to file for free online. JBAY also has created a social media toolkit to help spread the word about the benefits of tax filing. Learn more about how to help TAY file and claim their Federal and California Earned Income Tax Credits here.
JBAY Launches Survey on Impact of Pandemic
March marks the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has upended almost every facet of day-to-day life, including employment, education, health and housing. How are youth who have been in foster care or experienced homelessness faring?
To answer this, JBAY is conducting a statewide survey of youth and young adults, aged 18 to 24, who have been in foster care or experienced homelessness to understand the impact pandemic.
JBAY will use the survey findings to advocate for resources to assist and protect youth who have been in foster care or experienced homelessness. This includes advocating to increase state investment in housing, addressing hunger and housing insecurity on college campuses and better supporting young parents in foster care.
All youth and young adults who complete the survey are eligible to participate in a raffle of 10, $50 gift cards. Additionally, up to 10 youth can participate in an optional, 30-minute interview over zoom and receive a $25 stipend.
The deadline for the survey is Friday, March 26. For more information, contact Ryan Kwong at email@example.com. To take the survey, follow this link.
Call into 4/15 Hearing & Submit Support Letter for Addressing Foster Youth Homelessness
Assembly Bill 413, authored by Assembly Member Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) to prevent and reduce homelessness among current and former foster youth is being heard on Monday, April 15 at 10:30 a.m. in the Assembly Committee on Housing and Community Development.
AB 413 would establish training for child welfare workers and probation officers on housing and the homelessness response system. The bill would also make $5 million annually available for the Housing Navigators Program which serves youth age 18 to 21 and prioritizes current foster youth; and $8 million annually available for the Transitional Housing Program which serves youth age 18 to 24 and prioritizes former foster and probation youth. Lastly, AB 413 would establish a housing supplement for the THP-Plus program in counties with the highest rental costs. Learn more about the bill here.
Report Finds 1 in 3 Youth in HEAP-Funded Projects Exit to Permanent Housing
The California Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) has released an Annual Funding Report featuring information about the Homeless Emergency Aid Program (HEAP), funded with $500 million in the 2018-19 state budget and a 5% youth set-aside; and round 1 of the Homeless Housing, Assistance and Prevention (HHAP) program, funded with $650 million in 2019-20 and an 8% youth set-aside.
Youth served under HEAP have most commonly exited from services to permanent housing, with nearly one in three (32.5%) youth making this type of exit. As of September 30, 2020, HEAP grantees have spent 58% ($288 M) of the $499 million allocated and served approximately 65,524 people, with 9.2% being unaccompanied youth under age 25. Spending on youth continues to increase, with services being the largest category of spending. Consistent with findings from reports on HEAP issued by JBAY in 2019 and 2020, the HCFC reports that the HEAP youth set-aside resulted in new local partnerships around providing and expanding youth services.
In the early stage of May-September 2020, HHAP grantees have, so far obligated 54% ($334 M) of the $618 million allocated, expended 9.8% ($61 M) and served approximately 4,612 people, with 6.8% of them being youth. The largest category of spending on youth is new navigation centers/emergency shelters.
For an in-depth look at the status of youth in the roll-out of round 1 of HHAP, in addition to Homekey, the state’s COVID response to homelessness, please join JBAY for a webinar on Tuesday, March 23 from 10:00 to 11:30 a.m. marking the release of a new report. Please note this webinar date has been changed from a previous date. Register here or view the flyer.
With Support, Dual Enrollment Can Be a Promising Strategy for Foster Youth
A new brief from JFF highlights how dual enrollment can be used to expand college access for English learners, students with disabilities, foster youth, and young people experiencing homelessness. Dual enrollment has been shown to increase the odds of disadvantaged students enrolling in college and yet only about 13 percent of foster youth and students experiencing homeless participate in a dual enrollment program.
Barriers that exist for all special populations include chronic underfunding of student services, a culture of low expectations, uneven access to information and insufficient guidance. For foster youth and students experiencing homelessness, high rates of school mobility, housing instability and unmet mental health needs pose additional barriers. Suggestions for supporting these students to access dual enrollment programs include better coordination between K-12 and community college programs and integrating case management and wraparound support into dual enrollment programs targeting these populations. The report also highlights a pilot project sponsored by JBAY and Career Ladders Project to work with three community college to identify best practices for using dual enrollment to help foster youth succeed in their educational and career goals.
Finally, system level action could include issuing guidance on withdrawal regulations for dual enrollment students that clarifies that excused withdrawals can be used for circumstances outside a student’s control and integrating basic needs support into the design of dual enrollment programs. The read the full brief, click here.
The Family Urgent Response System (FURS) is Now Live
The Family Urgent Response System (FURS) officially launched on March 1st and is available to provide crisis support to current and former foster youth and caregivers. Using a combination of 24/7 phone-based and in-person support services, the overarching goals of FURS are to preserve placements and relationships between caregivers and youth, prevent unnecessary law enforcement interventions, and reduce reliance on psychiatric hospitalizations and congregate care placements.
The California Department of Social Services developed outreach flyers for current and former foster youth and caregivers with instructions on how to access FURS resources and supports. For more information on FURS, click here.