Due to the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and the downturn in the economy, some parents have been letting their young adult children stay in the nest longer than they otherwise would have.

The NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is now doing much the same thing.

On Tuesday, May 11, the NCDHHS announced that, due to federal legislation, the department is encouraging young adults – those aged 18 to 21 – who are eligible for the state’s Extended Foster Care Program to apply for re-entry if they left the program during the COVID-19 pandemic due to aging out. 

Re-entering the program will allow the youngsters to receive services and support made available by federal legislation.

The COVID-19 pandemic hit North Carolina and the United States early last year, but local, state and federal governments, for over a year, have been taking one action after another to see that the economic damage to people is minimized.  That includes everything from mailing out checks to a majority of citizens to the forgiveness of those who overestimated what their 2020 Obamacare monthly supplement should be.

 In this case, those young adults who have been, or would have been, cut off from Foster Care program benefits, will have those restored if they re-enter the program.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, which was signed into law by Congress in December of 2020, provided new emergency relief to young people in Foster Care and to those transitioning out of the program.

The support services provided to the 18- to 21-year-olds who now reenter the program – or remain in it – include assistance with transportation costs, rent and lost income. The new support services will also help those in the program put food on the table and address other “basic household needs.”

The young adults are being allowed re-entry and access to services under this federal requirement until September 30, 2021.

In a May 11 press release announcing the change of policy, NC Child Welfare Permanency Planning Section Chief Carla McNeil stated that the pandemic had created challenges that are “especially complex for young adults transitioning from foster care,” and she added. “We want to encourage all young adults, who are currently or were formerly in foster care, to take full advantage of the supports and resources available to them so they can achieve optimal success.”

Under Congress’ Consolidated Appropriations Act, young adults ages 18 to 21 who exited Foster Care during the pandemic due to their age must be provided the opportunity to re-enter the program. This includes young adults 21 and older who left the program during the pandemic – as defined under the new law as between January 27, 2020, to April 20, 2021.

For more information on the Foster Care 18 to 21 Program and related programs, those interested can contact their local department of social services or State LINKS Program Coordinator Erin Conner at erin.conner@dhhs.nc.govor 919-801-0369. 

Additionally, they can contact Foster Care 18 to 21 Program Coordinator LeAnn McKoy at leann.mckoy@dhhs.nc.govor 919-527-6375.