(INDIANAPOLIS) – Foster Success has sent a letter to Governor Eric Holcomb asking him to take immediate steps to help Hoosier foster youth during the pandemic.
The letter urges the Governor to take additional action to meet the unique health and safety needs of teens and young adults in Indiana’s child welfare system and those who have recently transitioned out of care.
“Young people in and leaving the foster care system have been hit hard by COVID-19,” said Foster Success President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dr. Maggie Stevens. “During a time when many teens and young adults are able to rely on their families for critical support, Hoosiers in foster care must rely on the child welfare system to ensure their safety, health, and well-being.”
Stevens said young people have reported struggling to pay rent, fearing they will lose their foster care placement or housing, not having sufficient money for food and being isolated and cut off from emotional support and resources.
“The Indiana Department of Child Services has taken extraordinary steps to meet the needs of and to support these young Hoosiers to date, but more is required to ensure that their needs continue to be met and that the child welfare agencies and youth serving organizations have the support and capacity to serve these youth,” said Stevens.
Foster Success is asking Governor Holcomb to:
- Place a moratorium on discharging any youth from extended foster care during this crisis and grant funding to the child welfare agency to provide up to 6 months of continued placement and casework services for youth who have been discharged in the 6 months leading up to this pandemic or who would have been discharged during the crisis or within 6 months of the crisis ending.
- Continue to provide additional funding to expand Chafee Aftercare, which is available to support youth who have aged out to meet their immediate basic needs during the crisis and increase funding for the Community Partners Program.
- Provide additional funds to child welfare agencies and youth serving organizations to increase the number of family-based settings and appropriate living arrangements for older youth.
- Direct foster care agencies to plan with young people in foster care to ensure they are connected to vital resources, people, and assistance in this time of crisis.
Foster Success recently established an emergency fund with an initial contribution from The Zotec Foundation to help foster youth get through the crisis. In the first 10 days, the nonprofit provided more than 150 cash grants to applicants to help them meet basic needs including buying groceries, providing diapers and formula for their babies, and paying utility bills.