CONTACT:
Dede Hill, Schuyler Center for Analysis & Advocacy, dhill@scaany.org
Brad Hansen, Families Together in NYS, bhansen@ftnys.org
Jeffrey Chang, Lawyers For Children, jchang@lawyersforchildren.org

CHAMPS NY & NY State Attorneys for Children Statements Regarding Urgent Need for Support for Young People in Foster Care

In Midst of Crisis, New York State Should Ensure that All Young People in Foster Care Have the Option to Remain in Care After Their 21st Birthday and Throughout Pandemic

ALBANY, NY — The following statement, by the CHAMPS-NY campaign, is in response to New York State’s inaction to support young people “aging out” of foster care during the COVID-19 pandemic. This statement comes on the heels of letters CHAMPS-NY and a statewide coalition of NYS Attorneys For Children sent to Governor Cuomo last month.

“Under ‘normal’ circumstances, young people who transition out of foster care without a family face instability in housing, income, and employment. In the middle of a global health crisis, when a safe and stable home and a family are key to both individual and public health, no young person should be pushed from their home or be forced to leave foster care without a family simply because they turn 21. New York State’s response to this crisis, which has been to allow each county to decide whether and how to support young people in foster care after 21, will create unequal support for young people across the state. Whether or not a young person has the option to continue to receive the supports of foster care should not be determined by the county in which they live. Furthermore, the relatively small numbers of transition-age young people in care make clear that the State can and should assume financial responsibility for their stability and support during this moment of crisis.

We continue to urge Governor Cuomo to take executive action to join nine other states in placing a temporary moratorium on forced ‘aging out’ of foster care for a period of at least 180 days after every region in New York State is completely reopened, to permit youth who recently exited care to re-enter quickly, and to ensure the social service districts receive appropriate funding support.”

In their letter, legal organizations from across the state that directly represent children explained to the Governor and the New York State Office of Children & Family Services the specific challenges of protecting youth from aging out prematurely while courts have been closed:

“As attorneys who represent children in foster care from Buffalo to Rochester to New York City, we continue to urge the Governor to join California and others to take Executive Action to protect youth aging out of care through this temporary moratorium and allowing youth to re-enter care with the least amount of restrictions.

Every day, we work hard to improve the odds for our clients. Unfortunately, it has been almost impossible to assure that they are safe and have stable permanent housing, employment, ongoing educational opportunities, and services during the pandemic. With the courts largely closed, our efforts to protect our clients are severely constrained. Our young clients from across the state must turn to the Governor to keep them safe.”

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CHAMPS NY is a statewide group of advocates and providers working to promote state policy and practice change that ensures that when children must enter foster care, they are placed into family-based settings whenever possible, and that their caregivers are supported so that children experience the best possible permanency and well-being outcomes.

New York State Attorneys For Children is a statewide coalition of legal organizations which directly represent individual children in foster care and protect their rights and advocate for their wishes. The group includes Lawyers For Children, Legal Aid Society of Suffolk County, Inc., Legal Aid Society of Rockland County, Legal Aid Bureau of Buffalo, Inc., Legal Aid Society, Children’s Law Center, Sullivan Trail Legal Aid Society, Citizens Concerned for Children, Inc., and Legal Society of Rochester. Attorneys from this group are available for comment.

 

 

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