S.08834 (Montgomery) / A. 10581B (Wright)
This bill is time sensitive and deals with the COVID-19 pandemic emergency and its effect on youth formerly in foster care who have aged out and have no place to go during the pandemic. Return to foster care may be the only alternative to prevent these youths from becoming homeless.
Currently Section 1055 of the Family Court Act permits a youth between the ages of 18 and 21, (who was discharged from foster care and who has no reasonable alternative), to make a motion to Family Court pursuant to section 1091 of the Family Court Act to return to foster care. A condition of such return is Family Court approval based on certain factors, and the youth’s attendance at a vocational or educational program. However, these two conditions may be impossible to satisfy during the emergency declared by the Governor, when access to Family Court may be restricted, and when many educational or vocational programs may be closed or operating on a limited basis for public safety reasons.
This bill would allow youths between the ages of 18 and 21 to be returned to foster care after they have been discharged from foster care upon approval of the Commissioner of Social Services who would make the determination based on the same factors as the Family Court would have had to consider pursuant to section 1091 of the Family Court Act. The bill temporarily waives the requirements to go to school and to make a motion to Family Court as conditions to such return during the Covid-19 pandemic. The bill makes clear that the local social services district may seek reimbursement pursuant to Title IV-E of the federal social security act. It also makes clear that if the youth is denied return to foster care by the Commissioner of Social Services, the youth may still make a motion to Family Court for return to foster care pursuant to section 1091 of the Family Court Act.
We strongly support this bill. Youth placed in foster care are among the most vulnerable in our society, usually without family members to whom they can turn. In these difficult times during the pandemic, this bill is necessary to protect them from becoming homeless without a means of support, with dim prospects for the future.