Since the Children’s Defense Fund last published our annual State of America’s Children report in February 2020, our children have experienced a year of unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a racial reckoning years in the making. Every aspect of children’s lives has been impacted by these shifts more quickly than data can track; even the most recent available data sets do not fully encompass how this past year has shaped our lives. This, of course, includes our 2021 State of America’s Children report. Because, as one element of the report makes clear, “Our Children are Not Immune.”
Family First Prevention Services Act: Implementing the Provisions that Support Kinship Families Checklist
Family First Prevention Services Act makes historic reforms to the child welfare system to better support children, families, and kinship caregivers, and promote a kin-first culture. Many of the reforms have significant implications for connecting children to kinship caregivers and further promoting permanency through kin guardianships. This checklist is designed to help child welfare agency staff take advantage of provisions in the law to engage and support kinship families.
On December 27, 2020, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which combines a $1.4 trillion year-end funding package with a $900 million dollar COVID-19 relief package. The law contains several important provisions related to the child welfare system.
Regulations play an important role in implementing a wide range of HHS policies and programs serving children and families, including child care, substance use treatment, child welfare, food safety, and health care. CDF is very concerned that the proposed rule will disrupt the ability of the Department of Health and Human Services to efficiently administer critical programs and services for children and families and should be withdrawn immediately.
The Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act Would Assist Children and Families During the COVID-19 Health Crisis
On July 2, Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Bob Casey (D-PA), and Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) introduced the Child Welfare Emergency Assistance Act of 2020 (S. 4172). The bill will provide a much-needed infusion of emergency resources to help the child welfare system adequately respond to the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the failure of the child welfare system to appropriately prepare older youth for adulthood. Each year, nearly 20,000 children “age out” of the child welfare system, reaching adulthood without the security, consistency, and support of a permanent family. When children are thrust into adulthood without that support, they have worse outcomes and are confronted with obstacles no young person should face alone. In ordinary times, youth who age out of care experience high rates of homelessness and poor educational attainment; these outcomes are exacerbated by the current crisis. Across the country, youth from foster care are losing their jobs and their homes and are facing serious food and economic insecurity without the support of family, yet Congress has failed to provide them with relief. Congress must act now to provide $500 million in emergency funding for the John H. Chafee Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood to ensure these youth with unique needs are not left behind.
We urge Congress to act immediately to provide crucial supports to older foster youth facing the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 18,000 youth exit foster care without a family each year, and, unfortunately, the outcomes for these young people are discouraging even in times of economic prosperity. Data indicate that on average, two in five foster youth who “age out” of care will experience episodes of homelessness and only 50 percent of youth will be employed at age 24. The COVID-19 crisis will only exacerbate these dire outcomes.
The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is a proven key source of support to help communities respond to critical needs in national disasters and an important tool in times of recession because it can provide assistance to cash-strapped states, territories, and counties quickly. We urged Congress to increase funding to the SSBG by $4.1 billion to respond to the growing needs of older people, children and families, and people with disabilities in the midst of COVID-19.
500+ Child Welfare Advocates Deliver Policy Demands to Congress to Protect Children From Abuse and Neglect During Pandemic
As national, state, and local organizations dedicated to the well-being of vulnerable children and families, we write to urge Congress to act immediately to provide crucial support to families facing the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, by equipping the child welfare system with the tools it needs to handle the crisis.
As Congress creates packages to response to COVID-19, we strongly urge increased support for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) to respond to the most vulnerable—our nation’s older adults, children and families, and people with disabilities. people with disabilities.