In December 2020, Congress passed a COVID relief package, House Resolution 133, which included funding to support young adults who were formerly in foster care. In Texas, the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) partnered with the Texas Center of Child and Family Studies (The Center) and Monarch Family Services to launch the Young Adult Pandemic Aid Initiative, or PanAid. In 5 months, through a network of community organizations across the state, PanAid distributed nearly $7 million in federal COVID Relief funding directly to young adult Texans who had aged out of the foster care system.
The funding was unique both in its flexibility and in allowing for assistance to young adults until their 27th birthday. Right now, financial supports for foster youth are often stringent in their requirements and end once these vulnerable young adults turn 21, leaving them to navigate a complex reality on their own. This population often leaves care without the support of a network or family and many have experienced significant hardships, including inter-generational trauma, absence of stable housing, underemployment, and lack of access to supportive services. The impact of the global pandemic exacerbated these challenges for all vulnerable populations, including youth who have aged out of care. By providing financial assistance for basic needs such as rent, groceries, utilities, transportation, and child care as well as federal pandemic relief, PanAid was an opportunity to help alleviate the impact of COVID on this often overlooked population.