The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the failure of the child welfare system to appropriately prepare older youth for adulthood. Each year, nearly 20,000 children “age out” of the child welfare system, reaching adulthood without the security, consistency, and support of a permanent family. When children are thrust into adulthood without that support, they have worse outcomes and are confronted with obstacles no young person should face alone. In ordinary times, youth who age out of care experience high rates of homelessness and poor educational attainment; these outcomes are exacerbated by the current crisis. Across the country, youth from foster care are losing their jobs and their homes and are facing serious food and economic insecurity without the support of family, yet Congress has failed to provide them with relief. Congress must act now to provide $500 million in emergency funding for the John H. Chafee Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood to ensure these youth with unique needs are not left behind.
Ample research tells us that strengthening and expanding the Child Tax Credit and converting it into a monthly child allowance is one of the most powerful ways to address child poverty and increase long-term positive outcomes for our children. We strongly urge Congress to adopt changes to the Child Tax Credit, reflecting the provisions in the American Family Act (S.690/H.R. 1560), to ensure it is fully refundable and reaches all children in low- and no-income households with the greatest need.
We urge Congress to prioritize children and families, especially those who are most vulnerable in our communities, during the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY2021) appropriations process and emergency budget decisions.
COVID-19 has exacerbated already too high levels of food insecurity in America. We urge Congress and the White House to take action now to limit the depth and duration of this health and economic crisis by ensuring that the basic food needs of struggling families and individuals are met. Congress and the White House must act now to increase the SNAP maximum benefit, increase the SNAP monthly minimum benefit, and suspend SNAP time limits and rules changes that would cut SNAP eligibility and benefits.
The tragedies that have occurred in schools across the country demand serious investments in evidence-based policies and practices that keep children and staff safe and do not exacerbate the school-to-prison pipeline, further criminalize marginalized children, or increase the over-policing of students in schools and communities. In order to ensure that students are learning in safe, healthy, and inclusive environments, we seek PK-12 school climate legislation that meets the following principles. We ask members of Congress to fulfill their role in helping educators and communities create and maintain safe schools that afford all students equal educational opportunities by incorporating these principles into all relevant legislation.
Before the COVID-19 crisis hit, millions of children and families, especially families of color, were struggling to afford housing. Housing disparities in America are a matter of racial justice; fair and affordable housing is out of reach for far too many Black and Brown families who often live in segregated neighborhoods.
CDF Opposes the Costly Tax Breaks for Millionaire Business Owners and Corporations in COVID-19 Package
CDF urges Senators to support repeal of costly tax breaks for millionaire business owners and corporations contained in the CARES Act and to oppose any other tax cuts for the rich and corporations in future COVID-19 relief and recovery bills. Instead, we recommend that your priorities be providing a major infusion of support to maintain state and local public services communities depend on, including public safety, healthcare, schools and sanitation; helping workers stay employed or providing them with robust unemployment benefits; giving more direct aid to families; and adequately funding public health.
The pandemic has magnified our nation’s failure to provide robust assistance for children and families in times of crisis. COVID-19 has also laid bare the systemic economic, social, and racial inequities embedded in our unjust systems. Today, communities of color are bearing the brunt of the fatal impacts of these injustices. People of color are more likely to have lost jobs due to COVID, are dying at more rapid rates compared to their white counterparts, and are more likely to live in poverty. As new research shows that the pandemic could cause child poverty rates to rise by 53 percent, especially for children of color, Congress must act now. Authorizing and expanding a Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Emergency Fund and making long-term changes to the TANF block grant are more important than ever to make sure children and families can survive this crisis. Families should not have to worry where their next meal will come from or face harsh requirements that were impossible to meet even before this pandemic.
We urge Congress to act immediately to provide crucial supports to older foster youth facing the stress and disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately 18,000 youth exit foster care without a family each year, and, unfortunately, the outcomes for these young people are discouraging even in times of economic prosperity. Data indicate that on average, two in five foster youth who “age out” of care will experience episodes of homelessness and only 50 percent of youth will be employed at age 24. The COVID-19 crisis will only exacerbate these dire outcomes.
We urge USDA to use its full authority to quickly extend the rest of the nationwide waivers, and state-specific waivers such as area eligibility, until September 30, 2020, or at least August 31, 2020. Extending the waivers is not only in the interest of public health, it also provides consistency for families and eases the administrative burden on state child nutrition agencies and FNS staff. The urgency of extending these waivers now cannot be understated as schools, local government agencies, and private nonprofits are making decisions today about whether or not they will continue to operate these programs this summer.