Chafee Application Now Available to Youth Up to Age 26

Q: I heard that the age eligibility for the Chafee grant has been increased so that older youth in college can receive a Chafee grant. When is this going to become available?

A: You are correct. Eligibility for the Chafee grant in California has been expanded so that youth can apply for Chafee if they have not reached their 26th birthday as of July 1st of the award year, and are otherwise Chafee-eligible.*

Funding for the eligibility expansion was included in the 2018-19 State Budget. While the changes to eligibility were included in a budget trailer bill (AB 1811), taking immediate effect on July 1, 2018, students meeting the expanded eligibility requirements were not able to apply for Chafee until October 2018. The updated application is now available at:   https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/StudentApplication.aspx.

*To qualify for a Chafee grant, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a current or former foster youth who was a ward of the court, living in foster care, for at least one day between the ages of 16 and 18.
  • If you are/were in Kin-GAP, a non-related legal guardianship, or were adopted, you are eligible only if you were a dependent or ward of the court, living in foster care, for at least one day between the ages of 16 and 18.
  • Have not reached your 26th birthday as of July 1st of the award year.
  • Have not participated in the program for more than 5 years (whether or not consecutive).

Pursuant to Assembly Bill 2506, starting with the 2017-18 award year, you can only receive your Chafee Grant if you attend a school that is either of the following:

  • A qualifying institution that is eligible for participation in the Cal Grant Program.
  • An institution that is not located in California with a three-year cohort default rate that is less than 15.5 percent and a graduation rate greater than 30 percent.

Citation:

 

CalFresh Student Eligibility: Approved Programs to Increase Employability

Q: I understand that participation in certain foster youth campus support programs can exempt youth from the CalFresh eligibility restrictions placed on college students. What if a former foster youth enrolled in college is participating in a campus support program that is not named in ACL 15-70, ACL 17-05 or the state’s additional list of exempting programs to increase employability, but essentially provides the same services as Guardian Scholars-type programs?

A: A program not currently on the California Department of Social Services’ (CDSS) list of eligible programs may submit a request to add their program by completing the form provided by CDSS, “Request for Approval of Local Educational Programs that Increase Employability.” This form can be found by visiting: http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/CalFresh-Resource-Center / “Policy Guidance” / “More Guidance.” For CDSS’ list of eligible programs, go to http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/CalFresh-Resource-Center and click on “CalFresh Student Eligibility: Approved Programs to Increase Employability.”

To be defined as a program to increase employability, the program must assist in gaining the skills, training, work, or experience that will increase the student’s ability to obtain regular employment, such as job retention, job search, job search training, work experience, workfare, vocational training, self-employment training, on-the-job training and education.

This question and answer are included in JBAY’s newly updated Frequently Asked Questions: Non-Minor Dependents & CalFresh document. Download the FAQ HERE.

Citation:

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 15-70 (September 17, 2015). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/lettersnotices/EntRes/getinfo/acl/2015/15-70.pdf.

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 17-05 (February 14, 2017). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2017/17-05.pdf?ver=2017-02-15-111331-970.

 

Married Youth’s Eligibility for Extended Foster Care

Q: I am nonminor dependent (NMD) who recently got married. Am I eligible to still participate in extended foster care?

A. Yes, you are eligible to enter, re-enter, and remain in Extended Foster Care. This was recently addressed the All County Letter 18-101 disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

“In a recent published decision, In re H.C. (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 1261, the Fourth District
Court of Appeals found that marriage does not exclude a youth from EFC eligibility in either
federal law or California statute. This ruling has mandatory authority over lower courts in
California.

As a result…if otherwise eligible, NMDs may now enter, re-enter or remain in EFC if they are married or get married. Married youth in EFC shall be subject to the same Title IV-E supervision requirements as any other NMD and they are eligible for the same placement options, if available and appropriate.”

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. 18-101, Eligibility for Extended Foster Care (EFC) For Married Youth and Youth Performing Non-Active Duty Military Service, (September 12, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-101.pdf

Chafee Grant Application Deadline

Q: I submitted my FAFSA a few months ago and my college has already packaged my financial aid. I didn’t realize that I could qualify for a Chafee grant and so didn’t apply. Is it too late for me to apply since college has already started?

A: It is not too late. There is no deadline for submitting a Chafee grant application and the application can be submitted any time during the school year. Chafee funds of up to $5000 are available to students enrolled at least half time who were in foster care between the ages of 16 and 18. In order to qualify you must submit both a FAFSA (or California Dream Act Application) and a separate Chafee application. Although funds are distributed at the beginning of the school year, some students do not enroll and these funds are returned and continue to be distributed throughout the year as long as there are funds available.

Even if you do not get awarded funds this year, applying now will make it more likely that you will qualify next year, so the sooner you can submit your application the better.

Note that currently you must not have reached your 22nd birthday as of July 1st of the award year, however this age limit is in the process of being increased to age 26.

Foster Youth Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights-Storing Birth Control Pills

Q: I am with an Foster Family Agency. What guidance should I give Resource Families about a foster youth’s right to obtain and use contraception, specifically any requirements about storing birth control pills.

A: First, you should inform Resource Families that youth and young adults in foster care have the right to consent to or decline medical care (without need for consent from a parent, caregiver, guardian, social worker, probation officer, court, or authorized representative) for:

  1. The prevention or treatment of pregnancy, including contraception, at any age (except sterilization).
  2. An abortion, at any age.
  3. Diagnosis and treatment of sexual assault, at any age.
  4. The prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of STIs, at age 12 or older.

This is one of ten reproductive and sexual health rights of foster youth outlined in All County Letter 16-81  CDSS provides the following guidance about storing prescriptive contraception medicine, such as birth control pills:

“Resource families are not required to centrally store prescription medications. For youth under the age of 18, the resource family shall use the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard (RPPS) to determine whether it is appropriate for the youth to have access to medications for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(c)(2); RFA Written Directives (WD), § 11-03(c)(2)). For youth who are 18 or older, the resource family shall permit the youth to access medications necessary for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(d)(2); RFA WD, § 11-03(d)(2)).”

Source: All County Letter 16-81, CCL’s: “Healthy Sexual Development Resource Guide for Children’s Residential Facilities and Resource Families

Duration of the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

Q: I understand that under the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, eligible families can receive six months of child care vouchers which can be extended up to 12 months. Do counties have the discretion to limit the duration to under six months? 

A: No, counties do not have the discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program. This was addressed in the All County Letter 18-80E disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

Do counties have the discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program’s child care voucher or payment to under six months?

Pursuant to WIC section 11461.6(f) counties do not have discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program’s child care voucher or payment to under six months. Every qualifying child receiving the voucher payment is eligible to continue receiving the voucher for up to six months as long as they qualify or until funds are no longer available. A Bridge Program voucher can be
less than six months if a long-term child care arrangement is made or the dependency is dismissed and the child exits from foster care.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. I8-80E, Errata to the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children, Question 7 (August 24, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-80.pdf

Medi-Cal for Former Foster Youth in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Q: I understand that foster youth who are part of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program are eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal. What about once they exit their URM placement as non-minors? Are they eligible for Medi-Cal up to age 26 in the same way that former foster youth are in our county child welfare systems?

A: Yes, youth who meet Former Foster Youth (FFY) Program eligibility requirements are eligible to continue receiving full-scope Medi-Cal under the FFY Program. California’s FFY Program eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • In foster care in any state on 18th birthday
  • Currently reside in California
  • Younger than 26

According to recently issued guidance from the California Department of Social Services, “When the County Welfare Department learns that a FFY eligible Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) youth has exited their URM placement (at age 18 or older), the County Welfare Department shall seamlessly transition the youth into the Medi-Cal program for FFY and assign the 4M aid code even if the youth’s whereabouts are unknown.”

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Welfare Directors Letter 18-14. All County Information Notice I-38-18 (July 3, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACIN/2018/I-38_18.pdf

For previous guidance issued by the state to counties regarding FFY eligibility for Medi-Cal, visit Children Now’s webpage: http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/resources

Mobile-friendly FAFSA

Q: Is it possible for me to fill out the FAFSA on my smartphone or do I need to have access to a computer?

A: Yes, it is now possible for you to fill out the FAFSA easily on your phone. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) launched a mobile-friendly version of the FAFSA last month at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The DOE plans to roll out a beta version of a student aid mobile app soon that would let financial aid recipients complete the FAFSA application as well as make loan payments and complete other financial aid tasks. A complete version of the mobile app is set to launch October 1, 2018 in time for the beginning of the 2019-20 federal student aid cycle. According to the DOE, the October release will include even more functions for the mobile app — it will be linked to the IRS data retrieval tool, it will allow for comparisons of aid packages for different schools and applicants will be able to transfer information to state aid applications.

Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Non-RFA Approved Homes

Q: I am a grandmother who is caring for her two grandchildren. My Resource Family Approval (RFA) has not been approved yet. Can I still participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program?

A: Yes, this was addressed in a recent Frequently Asked Questions document disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

Can Bridge funding be used on non-approved Resource Family Approval (RFA) homes?

Yes, families that have a child placed with them in an emergency or for a compelling reason, are eligible to receive a time-limited monthly payment or voucher for child care and a child care navigator subject to county eligibility requirements. See ACL 17-109.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. I8-80, Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children, Question 13 (June 14, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-80.pdf

Resources for Students with Disabilities

Q: I am helping a student with learning disabilities who will be attending community college in the fall. Are there any resources available for her as a student with a disability?

A: Yes, every community college campus has a Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) office. She will need to provide evidence that she has a disability in order to qualify for their services. The DSPS program provides support services, specialized instruction, and educational accommodations to students with disabilities so that they can participate as fully and benefit as equitably from the college experience as their non-disabled peers. Examples of services available through DSPS that are over and above those regularly offered by the college would be test-taking facilitation, assessment for learning disabilities, specialized counseling, interpreter services for hearing-impaired or deaf students, mobility assistance, note taker services, reader services, transcription services, specialized tutoring, access to adaptive equipment, job development/placement, registration assistance, special parking and specialized instruction.

You can find a list of DSPS for each campus here.