1.) IV-E funding: Ohio foster care youth and alumni played a critical role in extending foster care to 21, not only in our state, but initially advocating for the federal bill to pass that makes this provision possible. Foster care alumni helped write the curriculum for Bridges workers in our state.
2.) Chafee funding: Ohio foster care youth and alumni have been working for years to propose an increase in Chafee funding. The Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947) which passed in December 2020, includes a temporary increase of Chafee funds by 400 million in FY 2021, which does not require a state match. It also temporarily extends Chafee eligibility until age 27, and allows states to lift the 30% cap on room and board and provide room and board to young people who are between ages 18 years and 27 and have experienced foster care at 14 years of age or older. This provision will time out on Oct. 1, 2021. We are currently working with others to request an extension of these provisions.
3.) ETV funding: According to the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947), at least 50 million of the temporary increase of Chafee funds by 400 million in FY 2021 must be spent on ETV. This increases the maximum ETV award during FY 2021 from $5,000 to 12,000 per individual young person per year. Also of note — throughout the nation, there is a need for greater national consistency when it comes to ETV eligibility.
4.) Workforce: Ohio foster care youth and alumni continue to partner with iFoster to propose workforce solutions related to WIOA and the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. Although foster youth are considered a target population for WIOA Youth Programs, the current formula disqualifies many of them from receiving assistance due to being “in school.” Likewise, the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) is a Federal tax credit available to employers for hiring individuals from certain targeted groups who have consistently faced significant barriers to employment — but transition-age foster youth are no longer eligible.
5.) FAFSA questions: Also signed into federal law, and scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2023, are provisions to streamline te FAFSA for youth with experience with foster care and/or homelessness. This includes eliminating the requirements for the status of foster youth and unaccompanied homeless youths to be redetermined every year, and expanding the list of officials, programs acceded documents to verify that an applicant is a foster or an unaccompanied homeless youth.
There is also talk about simplifying FAFSA language regarding homeless youth; hopefully they keep (or improve) both questions regarding foster care history, because there is valuable information that can be attained by both of these targeted questions: (a.) “At any time since you turned age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or a ward of the court?” and (b.) “Are you a foster youth or were you at any time in the foster care system?”