WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTAJ) — U.S. Senator Bob Casey has introduced three bills to support foster and former foster youth by preventing family separation and promoting mental health services in foster care and adoption families.

The bills would also expand eligibility for Medicaid to 26 health care coverage for foster youth raised in grandfamilies as well as improve college access, retention and completion rates for foster and homeless youth.

“Foster youth face tremendous barriers compared to their peers, and we have an obligation to ensure these young adults have the resources, services, and opportunities they need to succeed in life,” Casey said. “Health care and education are the building blocks for a strong start in life, and these bills make it easier for foster youth to reach their full potential.”

Young people currently or formerly in foster care as well as parents and guardians would be assisted by the Foster Youth Mental Health Act, allowing them access to resources such as mental health support, housing, child care and other critical services.

The Fostering Success in Higher Education Act would invest $150 million a year in states, tribes and territories to establish or expand statewide initiatives to assist foster and homeless youth in enrolling in and graduating from college.

It would also establish formula grants to states based on their share of foster and homeless youth. A majority of the funds would go toward developing Institutions of Excellence that serve students with support services and cover the costs of attendance beyond federal and state grant aid.

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The Expanded Coverage for Former Foster Youth Act would strengthen Medicaid coverage to age 26 by extending it to categories of former foster youth who are not currently eligible.