Voices’ Blog

Foster Care Alumae Need Housing as Colleges Close

Posted:  -  By: Allison Gilbreath

In the last 24 hours, Voices’ has learned that many Virginia colleges and universities are closing to protect the health and well-being of students because of the COVID- 19 pandemic. Unfortunately, for many youth in foster care or formerly in foster care, on-campus housing is their only housing option. For many of these youth and young adults, there is no place to go once the school has closed their dormitory or on-campus housing, resulting in the real-time potential for homelessness for many of these youth.

The time to act is now.

We urge all Virginia local departments of social services to immediately contact all youth and young adults in colleges or in other settings who may need assistance finding and securing housing while their college or university is closed. Some schools and universities are offering the ability to remain in campus housing due to unique circumstances. We urge child welfare agencies (who have not already) to work with college and universities, asking them to continue to provide housing as appropriate to meet the special needs of youth in foster care/ formerly in foster care.

For those youth and young adults who are not able to stay at their colleges or universities, we are urging the agency to offer assistance to young people in identifying housing. This could be through foster homes, assisting young people to contact relatives and other caregivers, or identifying other settings so that no young adult is without housing.

Please share this article to raise awareness of this urgent issue and/or contact your local department of social services to learn about becoming a respite foster home.

In all circumstances, we encourage child welfare agencies to be attentive to youth and young adults affected by these circumstances. Youth may require assistance not only with housing, but also accessing food, health care, and emotional support. We ask child welfare agencies to act with a sense of urgency to reach out to and support youth/ young adults at this moment.

As a reminder, up to 30 percent of Virginia’s annual allotment under the Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood may be used to provide room and board assistance to eligible youth ages 18 – 21.

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