In a recent virtual town hall, Associate Commissioner Aysha E. Schomburg, J.D. and representatives from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration showcased their commitment to improving the lives of young people leaving foster care. By centering lived experience and implementing interagency efforts, these agencies are working together to provide comprehensive support and increased opportunities for healing, development, and success. Let's take a closer look at the initiatives shared during the town hall.
Aysha E. Schomburg, JD, Associate Commissioner, U.S. Children's Bureau:
Associate Commissioner Schomburg is dedicated to amplifying the impact of the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood. As part of President Biden's budget proposal, she has requested a $100 million increase for this program. Furthermore, Schomburg requested that the federal eligibility for the Chafee program up to age 27 and to youth who left foster care through guardianship or adoption as young as age 14, ensuring an extended period of support for transition-age youth. To prioritize lived experiences, the Children's Bureau is actively involving young people in reviewing updates to the National Youth in Transition Database and co-designing policies.
Kate Ginnis, Senior Policy Advisor, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:
Ginnis highlighted an important development in Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) regulations. Under the current draft regulations, every state Medicaid program and CHIP will be required to have an advisory board composed of enrollees, including youth. Additionally, as of this year, youth in care on their 18th birthday will be continuously covered by Medicaid until they reach the age of 26, even if they relocate to a different state. Ginnis encourages the nearly 20,000 youth transitioning to adulthood this year to contact their local or state Medicaid or CHIP provider to ensure continued benefits and care.
Richard Cho, Senior Advisor for Housing and Services, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development:
To address the housing needs of young people leaving foster care, HUD has requested $9 billion over the next 10 years in President Biden's budget. This funding will ensure that every individual in this situation receives a Housing Choice Voucher, and Cho shared that HUD has also proposed the removal of the 36-month time limit on Fostering Youth to Independence vouchers. The Department of Housing and Urban Development, through the Office of Public Engagement, will enforce the establishment of youth action boards in funded programs to involve young leaders in the design of services, programs, and systems. Furthermore, recent Notices of Funding Opportunity have been issued to provide additional resources for Family Unification Programs and Youth Homeless Demonstration Programs.
Jocelyn Route, Project Officer, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration:
Route emphasized the importance of including young people as key personnel in SAMHSA-funded programs. The agency requires staff to convene youth advisory councils when implementing evidence-based or evidence-supported programs. SAMHSA also supports the Healthy Transitions Grant, which improves access to treatment and support services for transition-age youth (ages 16-25) facing serious emotional disturbance or mental illness. Additionally, the Resiliency in Communities After Stress and Trauma program assists high-risk youth and families by offering evidence-based violence prevention, community youth engagement programs, and access to trauma-informed behavioral health services following civil unrest.
To read the full read-out report from an in-person convening with the Children’s Bureau and a diverse group of 20 young people from around the country, to inform the Children’s Bureau’s work plan on transition-age youth click HERE. We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Ambassadors, policy advocates, practitioners, and people with lived experience for their vital contributions in shaping the initiatives aimed at supporting transition-age youth.
To learn more about efforts to support transition-age youth please review the following resources: