Grassley, Reed Re-introduce Bill Giving States Flexibility on Federal Funds to Help Foster Youth Aging out of Care
WASHINGTON – Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa and Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island today re-introduced a bill to give states more flexibility to use federal funds to support foster youth aging out of the system.
“A lot of good ideas come from the state level,” Grassley said. “States ought to be encouraged to continue their innovative practices to help foster youth become successful adults. The 20,000 kids who age out of the system each year need strong support to go to college, find a job, secure housing, manage their money and do everything else they’ll need to do well to succeed as adults.”
“I am pleased to join Senator Grassley in introducing this legislation that builds on the work of our former colleague, Senator John Chafee, who was an outstanding foster youth advocate. This bill will strengthen the safety net for older foster youth and give states more flexibility to provide transitional assistance to foster youth as they age out of the system, particularly for kids who are continuing their education or are enrolled in job-training programs. We also need to provide much needed federal resources to help these youth successfully transition out of care and into independent adulthood and connect them to education and career opportunities,” said Reed.
The senators’ bill would allow states to use these federal dollars for foster youth services up to age 23. This would further help those who age out of care with more opportunities to transition to adulthood. It also would allow greater flexibility for states to use their funds in a manner that best benefits the youth population they serve. The legislation builds on the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, created by then-Sen. John Chafee in 1999 to better support youth who age out of the foster care system at the age of 18. The program provides financial support for youth who are transitioning to adulthood with the goal to make them self-sufficient.
Program funds are distributed to states and tribes to assist youth in their transition to adulthood. Programs supported by these grants can include help with education, housing, financial management, and emotional support. Grassley helped expand the program in 2008 through the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act. That law allows states the option to cover foster youth up to the age of 21. Today, 23 states have taken this option. This bill would allow states that have opted to extend foster care to those 21 years old to use federal funds to serve foster youth in all capacities until age 23. This would not require additional spending as it merely provides authorization to use existing funds for this population.
Grassley is founder and co-chair of the Caucus on Foster Youth. May is National Foster Care Month.
The bill text is available here.