On Thursday, May 28, 2020, the Senate Caucus on Foster Youth hosted a briefing on COVID-19 and its impact on child welfare to explore the effects of the pandemic on vulnerable young people and their families. Aliyah Zeien, a registered social worker, member of Louisiana’s state youth advisory board, and a former foster youth made a statement about how this COVID-19 pandemic has affected her life.
Aliyah works as an Independent Living Provider (ILP), directly supporting foster youth as they transition from foster care to adulthood. “Right now, extended foster care is working overtime. We’ve seen an increase in the calls we’re getting from young people who would like to re-enter extended care in order to access the services and support they need,” stated Aliyah.
She shared that what she is seeing firsthand is being echoed by her colleagues in ILPs across the country, and is in accordance with the results of FosterClub’s national polls. In the poll of Independent Living Providers, 4 out 5 IL programs reported a significant increase in calls from young people. In the May 2020 poll of young people, only 37% of young people reported having family (legal or chosen) that they can rely on during this crisis, and 1 in 5 young people said they are completely on their own.
Aliyah is seeing these challenges in her work and in her own life. Since she started working from home in March, Aliyah has struggled with anxiety and feeling like the isolation and lack of social connections reflects her time in foster care.
"I'm watching my peers struggle with homelessness, losing employment, not having enough food and having to stretch food to make it last.” Aliyah knows young people are not only experiencing these struggles in Louisiana because FosterClub’s poll showed that 51% of transition age young people are experiencing challenges with food security. After sharing her experiences as a former foster youth and a current ILP provider( listen to the full statement), Aliyah urged Congress to act urgently to ensure that foster youth receive emergency relief during this COVID-19 crisis.