NMCAN proudly joins other advocates in urging Congress to support older youth in and aging out of foster care, and to ensure states have the resources to keep young people safe and support struggling families during COVID-19.
In collaboration with the State Policy Advocacy and Reform Center (SPARC), we have observed a number of concerning trends including:
- Many families are struggling to manage the economic insecurity and overall uncertainty created by the pandemic. Prior research on the effects of recessions on children — and recent on-the-ground reports — document concerns about how periods of unemployment and reduced access to protective services and support like extended family or respite care are associated with child abuse and neglect. This pandemic is especially worrisome for the confluence of challenges: worsening economic forecast; growing fiscal instability of families; dramatic changes in the working conditions for parents; reduced access to schools and childcare. The isolating nature of this pandemic legitimately increases the concern about and risk for domestic violence, parental substance use including fatal overdoses, and untreated acute and chronic physical and behavioral health challenges.
- Youth and young adults who are aging out of foster care without a family to turn to are having difficulty meeting basic needs such as housing, food, and transportation. In a nation-wide survey of over 600 older youth and young adults in foster care, nearly a quarter of the young people reported that they were being forced to leave or feared they would be forced to leave their current residence. Nearly 1 in 5 said they had run out of food. These young people are at an important time in their lives where they are trying to gain a foothold in the world of work, family, and career. This crisis has left many without the opportunities and support they need.
- Children of all ages in foster care are, in many cases, going long periods of time without having in-person family time with their parents or siblings. While technology offers new forms of connection, and can even contribute to more frequent contact, sharing videos and phone calls will never prove an effective substitute for children spending in-person time with their families. The physical separation between children and their parents can exacerbate stress and compound trauma.
We are calling on Congress to take action to provide emergency federal funding to ensure that state and local child welfare agencies have the dedicated resources and flexibility they need during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep children safe, support struggling families, and ensure that foster families, kinship caregivers and other providers have what they need to continue taking care of our children and youth. Read more here.