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As many as 80 percent of children in foster care have significant mental health needs

A report found that only 3-11 percent of former foster care youth attain a bachelor's degree

Former foster youth being raised by grandparents, relatives, and close family friends are excluded from Medicaid to 26 coverage

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) introduced three bills to support foster and former foster youth by preventing family separation and promoting mental health services in foster care and adoption families; expanding eligibility for Medicaid to 26 health care coverage for foster youth raised in grandfamilies; and improving college access, retention, and completion rates for foster and homeless youth.

“Foster youth face tremendous barriers compared to their peers, and we have an obligation to ensure these young adults have the resources, services, and opportunities they need to succeed in life,” said Senator Bob Casey. “Health care and education are the building blocks for a strong start in life, and these bills make it easier for foster youth to reach their full potential.”

The Foster Youth Mental Health Act would help young people currently or formerly in foster care, as well as parents and guardians, navigate and access resources such as mental health support, housing, child care, and other critical services and expand health planning to ensure states have in place key components of a comprehensive children’s mental health system, including prevention, early intervention, and treatment.

The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act would invest $150 million a year in states, tribes, and territories to establish or expand statewide initiatives to assist foster and homeless youth in enrolling in and graduating from college. Additionally, it would establish formula grants to states based on their share of foster and homeless youth. A majority of the funds would go toward developing Institutions of Excellence that serve students with robust support services and covering the cost of attendance beyond federal and state grant aid. In addition to Senator Casey, this legislation is led by U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH). U.S. Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL-7) is leading companion legislation in the House of Representatives. 

The Expanded Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act would strengthen Medicaid coverage to age 26 by extending it to categories of former foster youth who are not currently eligible. For example, it would remove a requirement that former foster youth must have been enrolled in Medicaid while they were in the system in order to qualify for coverage to 26 years old. It would also expand eligibility for Medicaid coverage to 26 to former foster youth who were in the system but left for a legal guardianship with a kinship caregiver, and those who emancipated from foster care prior to turning 18.

Read more about the Foster Youth Mental Health Act here.

Read more about the Fostering Success in Higher Education Act here.

Read more about the Expanded Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act here.