Transgender youth – placement rights

Q: I’m working with a transgender young person who identifies as female, but has been placed in a group home for male youth. Does she have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity?

A: Yes, she does have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity. Senate Bill 731 (2015) amended Welfare and Institutions Code to provide transgender children the right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in the court or child welfare records.

What also may be helpful to review, is a question and answer document developed by a group of organizations which provides helpful information and resources for California child welfare professionals to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming children in foster care.

Citation:

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Expanded exemptions for student restrictions on CalFresh eligibility

 Q: I’m participating in extended foster care and attending college full-time. I heard that youth in extended foster care are now exempt from the food stamp eligibility restrictions on college students. However when I went to apply for CalFresh, the eligibility worker said I did not qualify. What can I do?

A: You are correct. College students participating in Extended Foster Care are exempt from the CalFresh eligibility restrictions on college students.

College students who do not qualify for an exemption must work at least 20 hours per week to be eligible to participate in CalFresh. However as of February 14, 2017, the student eligibility exemptions were expanded as described in All County Letter 17-05. As a college student participating in extended foster care,  you are exempt from these work requirements.

These expanded exemptions are still very new, and it is likely that the eligibility worker you spoke with is not aware of these new exemptions. The best thing to do is to bring a printed copy of All County Letter 17-05 when you go to meet with the eligibility worker.

Citation: All County Letter 17-05 (February 14, 2017)

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Community colleges offering housing

Q: Which community colleges offer housing? I work with transition-aged foster youth who are often interested in attending community college, but struggle to identify housing nearby. Is there a statewide list of community colleges that offer housing?

A: Yes. Eleven of the 113 community colleges provide dorms or other housing assistance. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office maintains a list of community colleges that provide dorms or other housing assistance here: http://www.cccco.edu/CommunityColleges/CollegeHousing.aspx

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Has CCR changed AB 12 eligibility?

Q: I am a CASA with a youth who is facing some decisions regarding her permanency plan. I understand there have been recent changes related to Continuum of Care Reform, impacting foster care placement. My question is, has CCR changed AB 12 eligibility at all — particularly in regards to the age of establishing guardianship and eligibility for extended Kin-GAP payments?

A: No. AB 12 eligibility has not changed as a result of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). AB 12 eligibility, including eligibility for Extended Foster Care, extended Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) payments, and extended Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) payments remains as follows:

Extended Foster Care:

There are four basic eligibility requirements for a youth to continue to receive support after the age of 18. The youth must:

  • have an order for foster care placement on his/her 18th birthday;[i]
  • continue under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a dependent, under transitional jurisdiction, or as a ward;[ii]
  • meet one of the five participation conditions*;[iii] and
  • agree to live in a supervised placement that is licensed or approved.[iv]

The youth must also sign a mutual agreement (although not a condition of payment)[v], meet with his/her social worker or probation officer monthly[vi], and participate in six-month court review hearings.[vii]

Extended Kin-GAP:

  • Youth, regardless of age of entry into Kin-GAP, may continue to receive Kin-GAP up until age 21 if he or she has a physical or mental disability that warrants continuing assistance beyond age 18 and up until 21.[viii]
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated Kin-GAP payment after they turn 16 are eligible for extended Kin-GAP benefits to age 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participation conditions* and signs a mutual agreement.[ix]
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated Kin-GAP payment before they turn 16 are eligible for extended Kin-GAP beyond age 18 if they have not yet graduated high school, but are expected to complete high school or an equivalent program before they turn 19. In this case, they can continue to receive Kin-GAP until they graduate or turn 19, whichever happens first.[x] There is one exception to this rule: Youth in a guardianship with a non-related extended family member (see next bullet).
  • Regardless of the age of entry into Kin-GAP, youth in a guardianship with a non-related extended family member (NREFM) are eligible for extended AFDC-FC benefits as a non-related guardian when they turn 18 and up until age 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participation conditions* and signs a mutual agreement.[xi]

Extended AAP:

  • A youth, regardless of age of entry into the Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP), may continue to receive AAP up until age 21 if he or she has a physical or mental disability that warrants continuing assistance beyond age 18 and up until 21.
  • Youth who do not have a physical or mental disability and who began to receive the negotiated AAP payment before turning 16 will receive AAP until age 18.
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated AAP payment after turning 16 may be eligible for extended AAP benefits beyond age 18, and up until 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participations conditions*. There is no mutual agreement requirement for youth to receive AAP after age 18. [xii]

*The “five participation conditions” referenced above are as follows:

1) The nonminor is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.

2) The nonminor is enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education.

3) The nonminor is participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to employment.

4) The nonminor is employed for at least 80 hours per month.

5) The nonminor is incapable of doing any of the activities described above due to a medical condition.[xiii]

Citations:

[i] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11400(v)

[ii] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11400(v)

[iii] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11403(b)

[iv] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11402

[v] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 303(d), 11400(u); All County Letter 11‐61

[vi] 42 U.S.C. § 622(b)(17); ACYF-CB-PI-10-11 (p. 11)

[vii] Welf. & Inst. Code §366.3(m)

[viii] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11363(c)(2), 11386(g)(2)

[ix] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11363(d), 11386(h); All County Letter 11‐86; Senate Bill §1013

[x] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11363(c)(3), 11386(g)(3); All County Letter 11‐15; All County Letter 11‐86

[xi] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11391(c), 11405(e)(2)

[xii] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 16120(d); 16123

[xiii] Welf. & Inst. § 11403(b)

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Financial aid-eligible majors

Q: I’m a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), helping my youth fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Chafee application, and want to make sure he selects a major that is financial aid-eligible. I don’t see this information on the FAFSA website anywhere. Where can I find this?

A: You are correct, it is not listed on FAFSA website. There are three ways a student can learn whether a major is financial aid-eligible.

  1. Before applying, a student can look on the college website where they are planning on attending. Financial aid-eligible majors should be located on college websites or district websites. For example, for the Peralta Community Colleges, it is located here: http://web.peralta.edu/financial-aid/sample-page/financial-aid-approved-academic-programs/.
  1. When the student applies for community college through CCCapply and selects his/her major, next to the major it will state ‘financial aid eligible’ or ‘financial aid ineligible’.
  1. After the college has received the student’s financial aid package, the college will contact the student to let them know that their major is financial aid-eligible, or financial aid-ineligible.
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Resource Family Approval Toolkit for Caregivers

Q: I am a relative caregiver of two siblings in foster care. There seem to be a lot of new changes in place this year that may impact us. What do I need to know about the Resource Family Approval process? Where can I go for information about this?

A: Yes, there are many changes taking effect this year, as part of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR).  Resource Family Approval (RFA), which took effect January 1, 2017 creates one uniform approval process for all caregivers in the foster care system, relative and non-relative. RFA applies to all new caregivers, and those who have already been approved and are currently caring for a foster child must be reapproved by December 31, 2019.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Step Up Coalition and a wide range of state and local partners developed a toolkit to help walk caregivers through the newly implemented RFA process. It includes sample forms and other resources to guide you through the approval process, and a narrative explaining RFA step by step. You can download the toolkit at: http://kids-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/StepUp_RFAToolkit_V1_Feb2017_print_download.pdf

While the toolkit is intended to provide caregivers access to easy-to-understand information, it is not meant to be comprehensive. Each county in California may have its own supplemental forms and requirements, and so you should also consult with your social worker and local advocacy organizations for additional guidance.

The California Department of Social Services has also released All County Letter (ACL) 17-16, which provides county child welfare, probation departments and other interested stakeholders with information on the conversion process of all currently licensed foster family homes, approved relatives and Non-Relative Extended Family Members for implementation of RFA.

The ACL provides instructions on which aspects of RFA are to be completed for existing caregivers and what to include in the new Resource Family file, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document.

Citation: Resource Family Approval Guide (Step Up Coalition); All County Letter 17-16 (February 14, 2017)

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Cal Grant GPA requirements & more

Q: I know the Cal Grant deadline is less than a month away, and I need some guidance to help my foster child. She is a high school senior, and is hoping to attend our local Cal State University.

Her Grade Point Average (GPA) is 2.8, but I understand that the GPA requirements for the Cal Grant A are 3.0. Should my child still apply?

A: Yes, your foster child should absolutely still apply. The minimum GPA requirement for Cal Grant A is 3.0 for high school students and 2.4 for transfer students, however for Cal Grant B, the minimum GPA requirement is 2.0.

Your foster child should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) along with the GPA verification by the priority deadline of March 2nd. If she is undocumented, she should submit the California Dream Act application instead of the FAFSA (by March 2nd).

For a youth who applies by March 2nd, Cal Grants A and B are entitlements, meaning a youth is guaranteed a Cal Grant if they meet the following requirements:

  • meets the income eligibility requirements (foster youth automatically do if they were in foster care after their 13th birthday because they qualify for “independent” status on the FAFSA)
  • is a high school senior, is within one year after graduating from high school/GED, or is a California Community College transfer student
  • meets the minimum GPA requirements (Cal Grant A: 3.0 GPA for high school students and 2.4 GPA for transfer students; Cal Grant B: 2.0 GPA)
  • submits their FAFSA and GPA verification by the March 2nd priority deadline

Once the March 2nd deadline passes, Cal Grants A and B become competitive grants for community college students only, to those who submit the FAFSA and GPA verification by September 2nd, subject to remaining funds. However, Dream Act students MUST submit by March 2nd. If they miss the March 2nd deadline, they will not be eligible for the Cal Grant A and B competitive grant.

If your foster child qualifies for the Cal Grant B, for her first year, it will provide the living allowance of up to $1,656, but not the tuition assistance that the Cal Grant A will. However, when the Cal Grant B is renewed or awarded beyond the first year, the student will receive the living allowance as well as the tuition and fee award. The tuition and fee award is up to $5,472 at a CSU and up to $12,240 at a UC campus.

A note about where Cal Grants A and B can be used:

Cal Grant A cannot be used at California Community Colleges, but can be used at UCs, CSUs, and private colleges. However, if a student is awarded a Cal Grant A who attends a community college, their award is held on reserve status for up to 3 years, then activated if the student meets all renewal requirements at the time of transfer.

Cal Grant B can be used at California Community Colleges, along with UCs, CSUs and private institutions.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission – http://www.csac.ca.gov/; Cal Grant Handbook – http://www.csac.ca.gov/CGM/calgrant_handbook.pdf

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Financial aid eligibility for reunified youth

Q: I am working with a young woman who has turned 21 and was previously in foster care. She was reunified with her mother approximately 7 weeks before she turned 18. Does this preclude her from educational financial aid that is tied to her foster youth status? Can she access Chafee and the other types of financial aid?

A: No, reunifying at age 17 does not preclude this young woman from any financial aid that she may be eligible for as a foster youth. Yes, she is categorically eligible for the Chafee Education & Training Voucher, the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant, and the Pell Grant. Provided below is more information about foster care status and eligibility for these types of financial aid.

For the Chafee Grant, a youth must have been a dependent or ward of the court living in foster care on or after their 16th birthday. However, it is important to note in this case because she is 21 years old, that if she turns 22 before July 1st of the award year she would not be eligible for Chafee.

For the BOG Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, eligibility is linked to the student’s “independent” status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Being “independent” means the student does not need to report parental income (but if their own income exceeds the income standards, they will not get aid). In order to qualify for independent status, a youth needs to have been in care at least one day after their 13th birthday.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission (Chafee eligibility: https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/), U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (https://fafsa.ed.gov/)

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Eligible placements for AB 2464 re-entries

Q: I’m working with an 18 year old in guardianship who is no longer being provided support by their guardian, and is without a place to live. She has asked if she can access a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP).

Is there a way for this youth to re-enter foster care and access a SILP, and will she be eligible to receive her foster care payment directly as her own payee?

A: If this youth’s guardian is no longer providing ongoing support to her and she successfully re-enters Extended Foster Care through the process established by Assembly Bill 2454 (more information about this process in a previous Q of the W), then she would be eligible for the placement options available to non-minor dependents, including the Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP).

To access a SILP, she would have to pass a SILP Readiness Assessment and her housing would have to pass a Health & Safety Inspection. Youth placed in SILPs are eligible to receive their foster care payment directly.

Citation: Assembly Bill 2454 (2014), All County Information Notice I-17-15 (October 20, 2015), All County Letter 11-69 (October 13, 2011), All County Letter 11-77 (November 18, 2011)

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Clothing allowance & SCI under CCR

Q: I understand that foster care rates have changed as of January 1, 2017 as a result of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). What about the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment? Do these still exist under CCR?

A: Yes, the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment (SCI) still exist under Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). On top of the foster care rates which did change as of January 1, 2017 (see 11/9/17 Q of the W to learn more), counties may continue to pay an SCI and clothing allowance.

As stated in All County Letter 16-79, families paid at a higher rate than the basic level rate (e.g. any additional SCI) may continue receiving those rates at county discretion. Counties will continue to provide written guidelines for their discretionary continuation of SCI rates and clothing allowances, and apply these guidelines equitably to determine a family’s eligibility for SCI rates or clothing allowances.

Citation: All County Letter 16-79 (September 22, 2016)

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