Q: I am a manager in a Foster Family Agency. I recently learned that some counties are not discharging non-minor dependents who turn 19 in 2012, but instead are allowing them to remain in extended foster care until January 1, 2013 at which time they will be eligible to remain until age 20. My question: is this allowable and if so, how can I find out which counties are doing what, as my agency serves youth from many different counties?
A: The decision whether or not to discharge a youth from foster care once the youth turns 19 (during 2012) is made by the juvenile court. The question you raise has to do with funding. Under AB 12, a non-minor dependent is eligible to receive a foster care maintenance payment until age 19 in 2012. For non-minor dependents who are federally eligible for foster care, half of that cost is paid by the federal government. Once the youth turns 19, the youth is no longer eligible to receive a foster care maintenance payment (also known as AFDC-FC) until January 1, 2013 (when eligibility for foster care maintenance payments is extended until age 20).
If a county is authorized by its Board of Supervisors to fund out of the county general fund cases of a non-minor dependents past age 19 in 2012, the county child welfare agency or probation department assumes the full cost of care for the remainder of the year. Some of the 58 counties’ Board of Supervisors are authorizing these funds. Other counties without this authority are petitioning the juvenile court to have the youth’s case terminated when the youth turns 19. If the court grants the petition and dismisses dependency, the youth can re-enter on January 1, 2013 (and will be eligible to participate in extended foster care and receive AFDC-FC benefits until he/she turns 20 in 2013).
The California County Welfare Director’s Association, along with others, worked hard to fix this issue in clean-up legislation, but were not successful due to fiscal concerns cited by the Administration. The best way to learn about the practice in different counties is to ask the non-minor’s county child welfare worker or their attorney.