The French government announced on Wednesday that it will ask the departments to temporarily continue to support young people who have come of age and are dependent on the Aide Sociale à l'Enfance (ASE), the social assistance scheme for children in France.
Child protection associations were concerned that thousands of young people placed in foster families, hotels or homes managed by the ASE would find themselves on the street on October 1, once they turned 18.
Since the beginning of the first coronavirus lockdown in March 2020, councils in different French departments have been instructed not to end their support for ASE youth reaching the age of majority -- due to difficulties in obtaining internships or jobs during the health crisis. This measure, however, was set to end on September 30.
"The economic situation has changed, we should be happy about that, there are a number of unfilled jobs. And when the Prime Minister announces €900 million to be allocated between now and the end of the year for vocational training, this benefits all young people, including those in child welfare, identified as a priority sector," said Secretary of State for Child Protection Adrien Taquet speaking before the Social Affairs Commission in the Senate.
"If young people do not find a solution by themselves, I ask the departments to continue to take care of the children and the State will compensate them pending the adoption of the Child Protection Bill," he added.
21 is proposed new cut-off age
A bill on child protection, adopted by the National Assembly in July but not yet in the Senate, should open the right to ASE until the age of 21 in case of "difficulties of social integration".
The Cause Majeur! collective, which brings together some twenty child protection associations, had asked "urgently for a new extension of the ban on any dry exit from child protection while the Senate perpetuates the support system for those over 18 years of age," in a statement.
"These young people who have turned 18 since March 2020, among whom are many migrants, are housed in foster families, homes or hotels, which they may be forced to leave on October 1 to find themselves on the street," said Lyes Liouffok, a former child in care and member of the Cause Majeur!.
According to pre-crisis statistics, "a quarter of homeless people are former children placed with the ASE, a figure that reaches 40%" for the homeless under 25 years, underlines Cause Majeur!.