Since the eruption of the deadly coronavirus, youth and advocates have been imploring New York to allow foster youth to continue receiving financial and housing support beyond their 21st birthday. In a letter sent July 3, the Office of Children and Family Services announced it was making $3.6 million available - funds originally meant to help counties expand preventative services and reduce congregate placements - to extend supports for young people turning 21 after March 1.
"I foresee challenges in some localities because the structure may not be there yet and the devil is in the details," said Judy Gerber, who heads the Attorneys for Children Unit at Legal Aid of Buffalo.
Others were more critical: "That money is less than one-one-hundredth-of-one-percent of the state general fund portion of the New York State budget. Surely a governor as brilliant as New York's Andrew Cuomo can find, somewhere in that budget, even more than $3 million to spare."
Advocates are backing more ambitious supports proposed by the state legislature, which would extend services to more foster youth on the cusp of exiting care or recently did so.
Meanwhile, the commissioner of one of the nation's largest child welfare systems, David Hansell of the New York City's Administration for Children's Services, is calling for states and the federal government to expand supports for foster youth past age 21.