While everyone is busy planning their New Year’s resolutions, over 1,100 young adults with a history of foster care in Los Angeles County have been diligently working on exit plans for months to avoid becoming homeless on January 1st, 2022. In California, Extended Foster Care (EFC) provides youth with resources and services like case management, mental health services, and financial assistance until age 21 when all benefits stop, and they are left to fend for themselves.
At the beginning of the pandemic, LA County worked quickly to approve an extension of foster care benefits for young adults slated to age out of the system. Funding was originally scheduled to terminate on June 30th, 2021, but got extended two more times to December 31st, 2021, creating what is now referred to as the “EFC Housing Cliff.” The issue is exacerbated by the general housing crisis in LA, which saw an almost 13% increase in people experiencing homelessness the year before the pandemic struck.
Most foster youth, like so many others, do not have the resources necessary to rent their own apartment like good credit, an income greater than 2-3x the cost of rent, or a person to co-sign for them. 1 out of every 4 young adults who age out of foster care become homeless within four years.
Youth in state care deserve more transitional support, more options for permanency, and more opportunities at advancement, but for the 1,100 facing imminent homelessness, those solutions will not come soon enough. To band-aid the problem, the LA County Supervisor and the Board approved access to Rapid Rehousing funds from the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) for the young adults impacted by the EFC Housing Cliff. A temporary fix with the goal of getting young adults housed temporarily, but not giving them the tools they need for permanency.
The county also approved additional funding for additional Housing Navigators, who assist youth with finding affordable, stable housing and help with moving costs, like deposits. The additional resources will help over 200 youth with nowhere else to turn. The motion also approved an additional 51 beds for California’s Transitional Housing Program, allowing more youth to have access to transitional resources to provide more stability by the time of emancipation.
Luckily, every young adult facing emancipation at COMPASS Programs knows where they’ll be living come January 1st. “Finding a right fit seemed like it would never come and a lot of my clients were stressed as [the deadline] approached quickly” said Frankie, a transitional social worker at COMPASS. Our staff has been working with youth facing the EFC Housing Cliff since the first extension was announced. Without knowing what would follow, social workers conducted meetings, made phone calls, provided resources, and followed up until every young adult had an exit plan with backup options in place.
While positive steps have been made by the county to house the young adults impacted by the EFC Housing Cliff, they deserve permanency, stability, and support during their transition to adulthood. Participants at COMPASS Programs work with our Education and Employment Specialist on getting their degree, job skills and training, and finding meaningful employment, our Housing Navigator assists with finding and securing safe, affordable housing in the community, and our Transitional Social Workers research and provide additional resources like mental health services, life skills, and emotional support. Using this holistic approach, participants at COMPASS are set up for success at the time that foster care services end.
We would not be able to serve the young adults at COMPASS without your support. Please consider making a donation, just $25 can provide two weeks of meals for a young adult transitioning to independence!