Immigration Status & Extended Medi-Cal Coverage for Former Foster Youth

Q: I understand that former foster youth qualify for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage up to age 26, but what about for youth who are undocumented immigrants?

A: Former Foster Youth qualify for Medi-Cal up to age 26 under the Medi-Cal program for Former Foster Youth (FFY) which provides full scope Medi-Cal , regardless of immigration status.

This, among other clarifications and updates, was stated in the errata to All County Welfare Directors Letter 14-41, released August 4, 2016 by the Department of Health Care Services. The errata clarifies that the FFY should be immediately enrolled into the FFY program and enrollment should not be delayed while additional information about immigration status, if needed, is gathered. Information about the FFY’s immigration status is for record-keeping purposes and does NOT impact the FFY’s eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal.

For more information about extended Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth, visit http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/.

Citation: Errata to All County Welfare Directors Letter 14-41 (August 4, 2016)

AB12 Question of the Week: Post-Secondary Education Series  

Applying for Financial Aid

Q: I am working with a foster youth who is about to start community college next month and I just discovered that he didn’t apply for any financial aid. Is it too late to apply? Someone told me the deadline was all the way back on March 2nd.

A: It is not too late. Federal Pell grants can be applied for at any time by submitting a FAFSA and community college students can apply for the CalGrant through September 2, although availability is limited after the March 2nd deadline. If the youth hasn’t applied for a BOG fee waiver, this can also be applied for year round. If the youth meets the eligibility for a Chafee grant, there is no specific deadline, but grants are limited and so early application is encouraged.

Allowances in THP+FC: Is there a required amount?

Q: My organization is a provider of THP+FC. Is there a minimum or maximum amount that we are required to provide in allowance to the youth placed in our THP+FC program?

A: State law requires THP+FC providers to provide an allowance to each participant in the program. State law does not specify a minimum or maximum value amount, but instead indicates that in the case of a participant living independently, the allowance must be sufficient for the participant to purchase food and other necessities.

Licensing regulations require the procedures for determining the amount of allowance provided to each participant and the schedule of disbursement to be included in the provider’s Plan of Operation.

Citations:

Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16522.1(b)(7); 

Manual of Policies and Procedures: Transitional Housing Placement Program, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 7, page 16

Questions about the New Infant Supplement

Q: I have a few questions about the new infant supplement. First, what date is it effective? I am working with a youth and her AB12 worker told her she would not be paid the infant supplement increase until January 1, 2017. Second, I heard that the $900 infant supplement is a loan and that youth participating in Extended Foster Care will be billed by the IRS once they are “self sufficient.”  Is that the case?

 

A: The effective date for the higher infant supplement rate of $900 is July 1, 2016. The California Department of Social Services has issued an All County Letter  that states this effective date. The youth you are working with may experience a delay due to local administrative issues. If that is the case, the youth is entitled to receive the increased rate retroactive to July 1, 2016.

Second, the infant supplement is not a loan. It is a supplemental rate paid to the caregivers of parenting dependents for the purpose of paying for child-related expenses, including the food, child care, transportation, clothing and housing. Like other foster care rates, the infant supplement is not counted as income. No youth who receives the infant supplement will be accountable for its repayment.

County Policies on Out-of-County Youth in THP-Plus

Q:  I’m 22 years old and currently live in a THP-Plus program in the county I exited care from in Southern California. I’d like to move to Northern California so that I can attend a community college that has a transfer agreement with the university I plan to ultimately attend up north. I have only been in THP-Plus for 7 months, and do not have much of a savings. I would like to find a THP-Plus program in the area where I plan to move so that I can afford to attend school without having to work full-time.

I’ve heard that some THP-Plus programs have stipulations about accepting youth who did not exit foster care from their county. Is there some sort of list that will tell me which counties will accept out-of-county youth in their THP-Plus programs?

A:  Yes, the John Burton Foundation has developed a list that includes almost all counties with THP-Plus programs’ policies on whether they accept out-of-county youth. This information was gathered from the THP-Plus contact at each county. The majority of counties do accept out-of-county youth, however some have stipulations, such as requiring that the youth reside in the county of the program, or that they have ties to the community and/or a purpose for residing there (i.e. a job, a school, family, etc.). The list is posted on the THP-Plus website at http://thpplus.org/county-policies-on-out-of-county-youth/.

FAFSA Now Available Starting October 1st

Q: I’m a CASA volunteer working with a high school student who is about to enter her senior year. She plans to attend college the fall after graduating. I want to make sure she receives the financial aid she is eligible for as a foster youth. I understand that completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step. Someone mentioned that starting this year, the FAFSA will be available at an earlier date. Is this true? If so, will the  Chafee application be available earlier too?

A: Yes, this is true. Previously, the FAFSA could be completed starting January 1st for the following fall semester or quarter. Now, the California Student Aid Commission will accept the FAFSA, the California Dream Act application, and the Chafee application for the 2017-18 school year starting October 1, 2016.

The deadline for completing the FAFSA has not changed. For maximum financial aid, it is very important for the youth you work with to submit the FAFSA no later than March 2, 2017. Consideration for priority funding is given to those whose complete application is submitted on or before this day as funding is limited and applications are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. If a student misses this deadline, he or she should still submit a FAFSA because additional financial aid is available.

You should work with your CASA youth to submit the FAFSA (or the CA Dream Act application if she is undocumented) and the Chafee application as early as October 1st. You should also make sure she checks with her high school to see whether they will submit her Cal Grant GPA verification form directly to the California Student Commission, or whether she will need to submit it using the paper form (also a March 2nd deadline). By completing the FAFSA, your youth will automatically be applying for a federal Pell Grant.

The FAFSA application is available at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The Chafee application is available at https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/.

EFC Re-Entry Guidelines – Waiting Period?

Q: We just discharged a youth in my county from extended foster care (EFC) because she has not fulfilled a participation condition for six months now, and has indicated that she no longer wants to attempt to fulfill a participation condition nor plans on working toward the goals in her Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP).

The next day she called me and said that she would like to re-enter EFC. I’m concerned that she may not be serious. Can I insist that this young woman wait a specified amount of time before re-entering EFC, or that she show me that she is serious by managing on her own for a while?

A: No. Specifying an amount of time that an NMD must wait before she is allowed to re-enter foster care is not permitted by state law or regulation. As long as this former non-minor dependent (NMD) is meeting the eligibility criteria specified below, she has the right to re-enter EFC:

  1. age (not yet 21)
  2. under a foster care placement order on their 18th birthday*
  3. agree to meet participation conditions
  4. authority for placement (completing the Voluntary Re-entry Agreement-SOC 163, following by resumption of juvenile court jurisdiction)
  5. willing to live in an eligible placement [1]

(*the exception this this is for youth who have re-entered EFC after a failed permanency plan as provided by AB 2454 so were not in foster care on their 18th birthday)

Signing the Voluntary Reentry Agreement is sufficient to indicate the NMD’s willingness to meet a participation condition and satisfies that requirement pending the NMD’s completion of the TILP, which documents the NMD’s continuing participation.[2]

There is no limit on the number of times a youth can opt-out and re-enter foster care as long as the youth is still under age 21.[3]

Citations:

[1] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 388(e), 388.1; All County Letter 12‐12 (March 23, 2012)

[2] All County Letter 12-12 (March 23, 2012)

[3] Welf. & Inst. Code §§§11400(z), 388(e); 366.31(c); All County Letter 12‐12 (March 23, 2012)

Trying to develop Parenting Support Plan, but social worker not available

Q: I’m a parenting youth participating in extended foster care and residing in a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP). I heard about the support for parenting non-minor dependents (NMDs) in SILPs established by Assembly Bill 2668. I have an adult mentor in place and would like to complete my Parenting Support Plan (PSP) and start receiving the additional $200, but I haven’t been able to get the three of us together to develop my PSP. I really need this financial support now. Is there a way I can get the ball rolling?

A: As of July 1, 2015, AB 2668 went into effect and counties were required to start implementing it.[1] The plan should be developed between the parenting NMD, the identified responsible adult and the social worker or probation officer[2] (in addition to any other individuals identified by the NMD parent).

The law[3] says that the PSP shall be developed as soon as practically possible. It further clarifies that if any of the additional interested participants are not available to provide input in the development of the PSP within the first 30 days of the NMD parent’s request to enter into a plan, the NMD parent and the adult mentor may enter into a PSP for the purposes of fulfilling the requirements of the statute, subject to the approval of the plan by the social worker or probation officer. The PSP may be modified at a later date when the other participants are available. This should help you get the ball rolling so that you can get the PSP completed and submitted to your social worker for approval.

It’s important to keep in mind that the adult mentor must be at least 21 years of age, and undergo a criminal records check and Child Abuse Central Index Check. For additional information about eligible adult mentors and more, refer to All County Letters 15-67 and 16-50.

Citation: All County Letter 15-67 (September 3, 2015), All County Letter 16-50 (June 1, 2016)

[1] WIC section 16501.26(d)

[2] WIC section 16501.26(b)

[3] WIC section 16501.26(b)

Question of the Week: Post-Secondary Education Series

Q: Is a student who exited to guardianship prior to her 16th birthday, but whose dependency case remained open, eligible for Chafee ETV?

A: If a youth has exited to legal guardianship but still has dependency, then it depends on how the language is worded in the individual court order. If the language reads that the youth is in the care, custody and control of the county while in the guardianship, then they would still be eligible for Chafee as this would satisfy the eligibility requirement of being in foster care at some point between 16 and 18 years of age. However, if a young person was in guardianship and the orders state that he or she was in the care or custody of the guardian, then they would not be eligible if the guardianship had been established prior to the age of 16.

Can a county require additional participation conditions for EFC?

Q: I’m finishing high school and participating in Extended Foster Care. I was told that in order to stay in Extended Foster Care in my county, that just going to school wasn’t enough, and that I had to also be working or participating in an extra-curricular activity to show that I’m motivated and making progress. I thought going to school fulfilled a participation condition, allowing me to continue in Extended Foster Care as long as I meet all other eligibility requirements? Has something changed?

A: No, nothing has changed. You are correct.

To participate in Extended Foster Care, a youth must:

(1) have an order for foster care placement on his/her 18th birthday;[1]

(2) continue under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a dependent, under transitional jurisdiction or as a ward;[2]

(3) meet one of the five participation conditions;[3]

(4) agree to live in a supervised placement that is licensed or approved under the standards for 18 to 21 year olds;[4] and

(5) sign a mutual agreement (note: this is not a condition of payment),[5] meet with his/her social worker or probation officer every month,[6] and participate in six‐month review hearings.[7]

The participation conditions are as follows:

(1) Completing high school or equivalent program (i.e. GED) (enrollment is defined according to the definition employed by the school or program); OR

(2) Enrolled in college, community college or a vocational education program (half‐time enrollment, as the college, community college or vocational program defines half‐time enrollment); OR

(3) Participating in a program or activity designed to remove barriers to employment (this is the “safety net” category which is intended to capture all youth who are not eligible under the employment or education conditions) OR

(4) Employed at least 80 hours a month (this must be paid employment); OR

(5) Unable to do one of the above requirements because of a medical condition (short‐ or long‐term medical or mental health condition as verified by a health practitioner but youth does not have to be currently seeking treatment).[8]

By being enrolled in high school or an equivalent program, you are meeting one of the participation conditions for Extended Foster Care. A county cannot discharge a youth from Extended Foster Care for failing to meet additional requirements beyond what is required by law.

Citations:

[1] Welfare & Institutions Code (WIC) § 11400(v)

[2] WIC § 11400(v)

[3] WIC § 11403(b)

[4] WIC § 11402 et seq.

[5] WIC §§ 303(d), 11400(u); All County Letter 11‐61

[6] 42 U.S.C. § 622(b)(17); ACYF-CB-PI-10-11 (p. 11)

[7] WIC § 366.3(m)

[8] WIC § 11403(b)(5); All County Letters 11‐61 and 11‐69

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