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Remember foster youth, urge Reps. Karen Bass, Danny Davis

Students in the child welfare system could suffer if dorms, cafeterias close, they say

Megan Simon of Los Angeles talks with California Rep. Karen Bass in the Rayburn subway during Foster Youth Shadow Day on May 23, 2018.
Megan Simon of Los Angeles talks with California Rep. Karen Bass in the Rayburn subway during Foster Youth Shadow Day on May 23, 2018. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Shay House once relied “heavily” on dorm housing and meal plans while growing up in the foster care system.

She’s currently a graduate student and foster youth advocate, but had the coronavirus pandemic happened just months ago, “I would’ve been greatly impacted,” she said Thursday.

House joined Reps. Karen Bass and Danny K. Davis at the Capitol to urge colleges and communities to remember foster youth as they scramble to contain the virus.

“When schools close, the needs of foster youth and parents need to be kept in mind,” Bass told Heard on the Hill.

More than 400,000 young people are in the child welfare system, according to the California Democrat, who co-chairs the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth.

Canceled classes, shuttered cafeterias and a lack of internet access are among the “substantial hardships” vulnerable students could potentially face, Davis said at the Capitol news conference.

The Illinois Democrat chairs the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Worker and Family Support, which oversees programs such as the Social Services Block Grant.

Dorm closures would hit certain students harder than others, House said Thursday, and could “essentially render foster youth, low-income students, as well as international students, homeless for an undue period of time.”

As for the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program, which brings students to the Hill to follow lawmakers for a day, it’s “way too far out” to determine, Bass said in a phone conversation. This year’s event is scheduled for June.

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