WASHINGTON DC (December 12, 2019) — Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles "Chuck" Grassley (R-IA) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR) today introduced the Increasing Opportunities for Former Foster Youth Act, bipartisan legislation to improve services for older youth aging out of the foster-care system.

“The 20,000 kids who age out of foster care each year need support to get an education, find a job, secure housing, and do everything else it takes to succeed as an adult,” Sen Grassley said. “There are innovative programs across the country seeking to help these youth. It’s important to evaluate those programs to ensure that they are effective in improving outcomes. This bill would create a pipeline of programs with proven results to ensure that the needs of older youth in foster care are being met.”

“There’s no magic age at which young people suddenly turn into adults, fully capable of taking care of their needs without support. The Chafee program was created to address that reality for youth in foster care who often ‘age out’ of the system and are left to navigate the transition to adulthood on their own.” Sen Wyden said. “This bill will help build and expand programs that successfully support young people aging out of foster care, giving them solid footing for a successful future.”

The Increasing Opportunities for Former Foster Youth Act builds on the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, created by Sen John Chafee (R-RI) in 1999 to better support youth who age out of the foster-care system at the age of 18. The program provides financial support for youth who are transitioning to adulthood with the goal of helping them become successful adults. Sens Grassley and Wyden helped expand the program in 2008 through the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act, and again in 2018 through the Family First Prevention Services Act, which allows states to provide foster care services to youth through the age of 23.

The legislation introduced today would establish innovation grants within the Chafee program to help identify and evaluate programs that are most successful in serving youth aging out of care. This legislation would award grants to evaluate programs for older foster youth at three levels:

  • Development: Programs with preliminary evidence of the potential for positive impacts;
  • Validation: Programs with at least one quasi-experimental study showing positive results; and
  • Replication: Programs with at least one experimental study demonstrating positive results.

The cost of the grants is paid for through measures that improve child support collections and increase resources for families owed child support. These provisions include helping states locate those who owe child support by requiring reporting of basic information on independent contractors, allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to transmit requests directly to financial institutions at the request of a state, and reducing the burden on small banks by allowing them to use an existing multi-state system used today by larger banks to identify those who owe child support.

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