Did the Governor’s Veto of Senate Bill 912 Impact the COVID-19 Extension of Foster Care for Youth Who Turned 21 On or After April 17th?

Q: Did the Governor’s veto of Senate Bill 912 impact the COVID-19 extension of foster care for youth who turned 21 on or after April 17th?

A: No, it did not. The 2020-21 state budget included $32 million to protect non-minor dependents by allowing youth who turn 21 between April 17, 2020 and June 30, 2021 to remain in care until June 30, 2021. Senate Bill 912 (Beall) would have made additional changes to this extension, including changing the date range of eligibility and making the extension automatic for any future states of emergency. The veto of Senate Bill 912 did not impact the existing extension to June 30, 2021. A full description of how the extension was included in the state budget follows.

The budget trailer bill, Assembly Bill 89 states that $29,021,000 million is available to:

1) Fund the assistance costs associated with continuing an extended foster care benefit assistance payment for any nonminor dependent who met eligibility requirements for the Extended Foster Care program, has lost their employment or has experienced a disruption in their education program resulting from COVID-19, and cannot otherwise meet any of the participation requirements; and

2) Extend foster care eligibility for nonminor dependents who turn 21 years of age while in extended foster care on or after April 17, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

Another budget trailer bill, Senate Bill 115 states that $2,979,000 is available to fund the administrative costs associated with the above provisions. An All County Letter with more in-depth guidance about this extension is forthcoming from the California Department of Social Services. In the meantime, questions can be directed to TAYPolicy@dss.ca.gov.

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Can Foster Youth Students Who Don’t Maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Receive Financial Aid?

Q: If a foster youth student is not meeting a college’s Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements, are they still eligible to receive financial aid? For the answer, please follow this link.

Students may not meet SAP for various reasons, including having a low grade point average (GPA), not completing enough courses, or taking too long to reach the number of courses needed to graduate. Each academic institution has their own SAP policy, but, generally speaking, most forms of federal financial aid only allow students to not meet SAP for two consecutive semesters or three consecutive quarters before becoming ineligible for funding and needing to file an appeal with their financial aid office to potentially have it reinstated.

As a result of SB 150, however, which went into effect on January 1, 2020,  foster youth students in California receiving the Chafee Education and Training Voucher can fail to meet SAP for four consecutive semesters or five consecutive quarters before losing their Chafee funding. After the second consecutive semester (or third quarter), students must meet with an on-campus advisor to develop a Student Success Plan that addresses both academic and non-academic barriers they are facing in maintaining the required GPA and working towards graduation. If a student continues to not meet SAP for four consecutive semesters (or five quarters), they can file an appeal with the financial aid office to have their funding reinstated based on .

SB 150 also applies to students who may have disenrolled from an institution after not meeting SAP. Under the provisions, students who do not meet SAP and subsequently disenroll should have their Chafee funding reinstated upon re-enrollment. If the student who seeks to re-enroll did not meet SAP for two or more consecutive terms, the academic institution has the discretion to immediately reinstate their Chafee funding or require the student to complete a Student Success Plan or file an appeal (if SAP was unmet for four consecutive semesters or five consecutive quarters).

To learn more about the SB 150 provisions and review sample templates that academic institutions can utilize, .

Foster youth should also submit an appeal to have other financial aid reinstated. Students should visit their campus website to determine the process for submitting an appeal and can also visit SwiftStudent for guidance.

Do Unemployment Insurance payments impact foster care benefits?

Q: Some youth in foster care in our county are receiving unemployment insurance after losing their jobs or having their hours reduced as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Do these payments impact their foster care payment or their eligibility for placement or services at all?

A: No, the Unemployment Insurance being provided under the CARES Act does not have a bearing on foster care benefits. Unemployment Insurance is unearned income, which does count toward certain means-tested benefits, however the federal Children’s Bureau has advised the California Department of Social Services that CARES Act unemployment payments are not be considered income or resources when determining Title IV-E eligibility.

Citation: California Department of Social Services, All County Letter 20-81 (July 9, 2020). https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/Additional-Resources/Letters-and-Notices/ACLs/2020/20-81.pdf

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Can youth receive unemployment in California?

Q: I understand that Congress is considering extending the current unemployment benefits. Can youth receive unemployment in California?

A: Yes, youth can receive unemployment insurance in California where there are no minimum age requirements, as long as they meet other eligibility requirements:

  • They lost job through no fault of their own
  • They earned enough money during a four-quarter base period:
    • $1,300 in the highest quarter of their base period* [or]
    • $900 in their highest quarter and
    • Total base period earnings of 1.25x their high quarter earnings
  • They must be able, available, and actively seeking work

*A base period is a specific 12-month term used to determine eligibility

It is also important to note that several youth may be eligible for unemployment insurance that previously were not. The categories of eligibility have been expanded to include the following types of workers impacted by the Coronavirus:

  • Self-employed workers (earned income from own work rather than as an employee)
  • Freelancers, e.g. baby-sitter, tutor, blogger, photographer, etc.
  • Independent contractors e.g. Lyft/Uber driver, barber/hair stylist, gardener, personal trainer, etc.
  • Part-time workers who had a reduction in hours

Weekly benefit amounts range from $40 to $450, and right now, those receiving unemployment get an additional $600 per week until the end of July. Congress is currently considering extending this additional benefit amount beyond July 31, 2020.

Apply for unemployment insurance HERE.

Read a fact sheet developed by the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative for step-by-step instructions to apply, and for other helpful information about applying for unemployment insurance.

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Will Unemployment Benefits and Stimulus Payments Impact Financial Aid?

Q: If a student receives unemployment benefits during COVID-19, do they need to report them as income on the FAFSA? What about other benefits like stimulus payments or emergency aid a student receives from their campus?

A: Unemployment benefits, including those received in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic, must be reported as income on the FAFSA.  Since the FAFSA is on a prior-prior year basis, this income, which will be reported on their 2020 federal income tax return,  and would be reported on the 2022-2023 FAFSA but would not impact their current financial aid award.

In contrast, Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, are not considered taxable income and do not affect their financial aid eligibility, either now or in the future. These checks do not need to be reported on the FAFSA.

In addition, emergency financial aid grants to students and other financial aid received from the government in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic do not need to be reported as income on the FAFSA and do not affect students’ financial aid. Emergency aid from other than a governmental source, however, including emergency aid made available by a college campus not paid for by CARES Act funding, may be considered “Estimated Financial Assistance” and may reduce a student’s financial aid award. In this scenario, students should request that the financial aid office exercise professional judgment to increase the student’s cost of attendance to make room for the aid.

For further information on student emergency aid and taxation, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance.

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California Legislature Resumes

Q: Now that the California Legislature has resumed, what are key hearings, deadlines, and guidance for participation during the continued Covid-19 state of emergency? How will I know if a bill I care about is moving forward or held? 

A: After a legislative pause due to the coronavirus pandemic, the California State Assembly reconvened Monday, May 4, 2020 and the Senate will resume May 11, 2020. Due to the risk of spread of Covid-19, hearings are held virtually with telephonic access for public comment and in-person attendance is discouraged. Guidance to the public requests that people do not enter the Capitol if they have a cough or fever, or are monitoring Covid-19 symptoms. People are encouraged to watch and participate from home. Opportunities are provided to submit written testimony and to make public comment by phone. For anyone needing to attend in person there is a request to maintain a minimum six-foot distance from one another. Capitol restrooms are equipped with soap and people are asked to wash hands often and use hand sanitizer.

The Assembly and Senate Daily Files are updated to include the new hearing dates, agendas and information for how to view the hearings. There will be one hearing per committee in the month of May. Based on the ongoing financial impact of Covid-19 on the economy, legislators were asked to restrict their legislative items only to those issues related to addressing Covid-19, homelessness, and wildfire response. Many bills previously set to be heard will now be held and will not move forward this year. To learn the status of legislation, search by bill number here and click on the status tab.

Hearings important to transition age youth and foster youth are the following:

To learn more and support JBAY’s legislative advocacy, visit our take action page, here.

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Many More Youth are Entitled to Stimulus Checks

Q: Some of the college youth in my foster youth program have already received their COVID-19 stimulus payments from the government, but others have not. What accounts for this difference and what should I tell youth who have not yet received payment?

A: Many people are entitled to a stimulus payment but are unaware how to receive it. Youth who have a social security number, are not claimed as a dependent on anyone else’s tax form, and earn less than $75,000 gross annually (or within these parameters if they are married, head of household or parenting) qualify for funding. As of April 13, 2020, many people automatically received direct deposits in their bank accounts if they filed 2018 or 2019 tax returns and have a bank account on file with the IRS. Everyone falling outside of this scenario must either wait a bit longer or take action to receive their check.

If the youth filed 2018 or 2019 taxes but did not provide bank account information, they should expect to receive a physical check in the beginning of May. They can also visit the IRS website to update their bank account information. However, even if they did not file a tax return, they can still receive payment by filling out this IRS form. A youth who receives Social Security Insurance (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) with no dependents, will also automatically receive a payment.

In general, qualified single filers will receive $1,200, and potentially more, if they are married or parenting. Youth are encouraged to apply, even if they are unsure if they qualify. They can check the status of their check at any time here and refer to a Q&A by the Alliance for Children’s Rights for further information on eligibility and common scenarios.

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Expanded Eligibility and Timing for Unemployment Insurance

Q: Many of the youth who I work with are part-time workers or a part of the gig economy, and they have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, as a result of the coronavirus. Can they still file for unemployment? 


Yes, and they should apply as soon as possible. California has expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to include self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers for up to 39 weeksMany youth who work as Lyft or Uber drivers, babysitters, dog walkers, or tutors, among other jobs, are now protected. In addition, youth who still have a job and had their hours reduced are also protected.  

In general, to qualify for unemployment insurance in California, one must have lost their job or experienced reduced hours through no fault of their own; met certain earnings thresholds during a base period; and be actively seeking new employment. To check their eligibility, youth should register as soon as possible with the State of California Employment Development Department on their phone or computer or call 1-800-300-5616 for directions on how to apply by phone, mail, or fax. 

If they qualify, youth can receive weekly benefits from $40-450, depending on their previous earnings, and right now, if approved, they would get an additional $600 week until the end of JulyFunds will arrive approximately 2-4 weeks after approval, so youth are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and should be prepared to “recertify for benefits” every two weeks. 

For more information refer to this fact sheet created by the Alliance for Children’s Rights. 

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Infant Supplement Payment Eligibility

Q: I work with parenting youth, how do I know if they are eligible for the infant supplement payment? Can both parents receive the infant supplement payment for their child?

A: The Department of Social Services has issued an All County Information Notice clarifying infant supplement eligibility, ACIN NO. I-10-20. The department clarifies that the following parenting youth populations who are living with their non-dependent child are eligible:

  • Youth under delinquency jurisdiction who are residing in foster care.
  • Nonminor dependents (NMDs) in Extended Foster Care.
  • Youth in non-related legal guardianships receiving AFDC-FC payments.
  • Youth receiving Kin-Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) payments.
  • Youth receiving Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) payments.

The department further clarified that either male or female parenting youth may be eligible for an infant supplement and that all eligible teens and nonminor dependents be screened for current or expectant parents. Only one infant supplement may be paid per eligible child. If both parents are eligible, the infant supplement must be paid to the parent with primary physical custody of the child.

See more question of the week answers related to the infant supplement here.

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Satisfactory Academic Progress

Q: Many of the students I work with lose their financial aid because of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements. Are there any forms of financial aid that are not subject to SAP?

A: While all forms of state and federal financial aid have some form of academic progress standards, some have more flexibility than others. A new law (SB 150) that will take effect on January 1, 2020 will allow students to continue to receive a Chafee ETV grant for two years before they lose eligibility because of SAP. If a student does lose eligibility there are specific criteria that qualify the student for reinstatement that are broader than those used for other forms of aid. To read more about this new law, click HERE.

In addition, the Promise Grant, which covers tuition costs at community colleges, is subject to different standards than sources such as the federal Pell grant and state CalGrant. While this varies by campus, typically the requirements are less stringent, and students can often maintain the fee waiver even when they no longer qualify for other forms of aid.

Finally, if a student does lose financial aid, they should be encouraged to appeal to have aid reinstated. This process can be cumbersome, and they may need support to navigate their college’s SAP appeal process.

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