An Open Letter to Governor Whitmer and Michigan’s State Legislators
Dear Governor Whitmer,
In December 2020, the United States Congress passed the Supporting Foster Youth and Families through the Pandemic Act (H.R. 7947). This act designated funding specifically for foster youth to address gaps in unmet critical and unique needs caused by COVID-19. Our community has been waiting since January 2021 for Michigan to distribute these emergency funds. We are dismayed and heartbroken that help has arrived but has yet to reach us.
There is no explanation why federal provisions meant to protect us throughout the pandemic have yet to be enacted in Michigan.
As the State of Michigan, you as our legal “parents” have committed to protect and keep us safe. You have the means, authority, and power to help us by releasing the nearly $11.5 million dollars in Chafee Pandemic Relief funds for foster youth still held in Senate Bill 36 (S-2) before the majority of these funds expire in September.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, children in foster care suffered nearly twice as much trauma as combat veterans1, 20% of foster youth become homeless on their first day out of the system, and only 2-3% graduate from college2.
When college campuses closed due to COVID-19, exceptions were made to accommodate those of us who had nowhere else to go, however, we were left with no support. When our peers were surrounded by the nurture of home and family, we were alone, isolated by lockdown restrictions, even throughout holidays and breaks. We were denied the same mental break our peers experienced, as we faced uninterrupted online instruction to maintain our housing. This resulted in poor grades and dismissal for many former foster care youth.
The COVID-19 pandemic added a heavy emotional, mental, and financial toll on all of Michigan’s foster children. Our plans to achieve financial stability and safety have fallen short without the funds promised to us over seven months ago.
We are Michigan’s children raised in the foster care system as wards of the state by no fault of our own. We depend on you, the most powerful decision-makers in Michigan, for our well-being and protection.
Our government’s inaction appears as indifference, telling each one of us in foster care that we are unworthy and don’t matter. Yet we still expect to be represented and supported, not only as human beings but as your children.
ACT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE to release the Chafee Pandemic Relief funds in S.B. 36 (S-2) and restore hope in Michigan’s Foster Youth!
Empowering Foster Youth through Technology (EFyTECH), a foster youth-led policy group supported by Park West Foundation
Established in 2006, Park West Foundation serves as the charitable arm of Park West Gallery, which inspires and supports Michigan’s youth who age out of the foster care system. To learn more about Park West Foundation, visit www.parkwestfoundation.org. If you’d like to discuss the Chaffee Pandemic Relief Funds with EFyTECH or the Park West Foundation, please contact Diane Pandolfi at firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Chafee education and training vouchers $1,324,000, Chafee foster care program $10,220,000, Federal FFPSA transition grant $15,622,000
1 Plotkin, Candice. (2005). “Study Finds Foster Kids Suffer PTSD.” The Crimson.
2 Gaille, Brandon. (2017). “51 Useful Aging Out of Foster Care Statistics.” National Foster Youth Institute.
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