WASHINGTON – Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) today introduced legislation to reduce youth homelessness. The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act would improve training, educational opportunities, and permanency planning for older foster youth. It also strengthens programs to reduce poverty and keep families together.
“As a father, it’s a punch in the gut to imagine children living on the streets, but this year alone, one in fifty American kids will be homeless,” Senator Kerry said. “There are common sense reforms we can implement to help make things better.”
The Reconnecting Youth to Prevent Homelessness Act:
- Allows children nationwide to remain in foster care until at least their 21st birthday.
- Extends the timeframe foster youth have to utilize the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, improving access to education, training, and independent living services; and increases funding authorization for the program
- Makes significant improvements to the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program, such as enhancing efforts to connect families with education, training and housing resources. It also increases the time frame for young parents to qualify for TANF benefits if they are in an education or training program.
- Provides support for states to work together to decrease barriers that prohibit cooperation across state lines for placing foster children in loving homes outside their state of residence.
- Provides support for programs that improve family relationships and reduce homelessness among youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.
- Ensures that children in foster care receive Social Security benefits they qualify for due to the death of a parent or a disability.
This legislation is supported by 39 organizations, including the National Coalition for the Homeless, National Network for Youth, and Voice for Adoption.