Eligibility to Re-enter Foster Care for youth who are “AWOL”

Q: I am working with a homeless youth, age 19. At age 18, she ran away from her foster care placement. Is she eligible to re-enter foster care even though she was “AWOL” when she turned age 18?

A: Yes; Welfare and Institutions Code 388 (e) outlines the eligibility criteria for extended foster care and specifically states that a “nonminor who attained 18 years of age while subject to an order for foster care.” It does not specify that a youth must be resident in a foster care placement to be eligible. Youth who are “AWOL” are still subject to a court order of foster care, even if they are not physically residing in foster care.

However, if the young woman ran away from foster care and the court had closed her dependency case prior to age 18, she would not be eligible to re-enter foster care.

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