Monthly Archives: August 2016

Impact of cap on SIJS visas on foster youth

Q: I’ve heard that there is a cap on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visas for minors from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. What does this mean for youth from these countries who have entered the child welfare system and will soon turn 21?

A: Yes, there is a cap on the number if SIJS visas and according to the U.S. State Department, it has been reached for children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico for FY2016. However, the Center for the Study of Social Policy makes the following recommendations for assisting youth who are impacted by the SIJS visa cap:

  • Continue to file for SIJS (Form I-360) on behalf of youth from these countries. The current cap on SIJS visas should not prohibit child welfare workers and practitioners, including attorneys and guardians ad litem, from moving forward and filing for SIJS.
  • Ensure the proper findings have been issued by the court and all forms (I-360 and I-485) have been filed. To be eligible for SIJS, the appropriate court findings and paperwork must be filed before the child or youth’s 21st birthday. It is imperative that practitioners and advocates continue to seek the necessary findings in court and file the appropriate forms to move forward with petitioning for lawful permanent residency once the cap is lifted in October 2016 (when the new fiscal year begins). It can be difficult to get a case in front of the court once a child or youth has exited the foster care system so having the appropriate findings issued during an open foster care case is imperative.
  • Ensure that SIJS eligible children and youth are granted Deferred Action while awaiting the availability of SIJS visas. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that it is approving Deferred Action, which is temporary relief from deportation, for SIJS visa-eligible applicants. By obtaining Deferred Action, these children and youth will be exempt from deportation for two years and will be eligible to apply for Employment Authorization.
  • Inform children and youth petitioning for SIJS that a change to their circumstances can impact their eligibility for an SIJS visa. Despite having the appropriate finding and forms completed, youth may be found no longer eligible if they get married or are arrested.
  • Connect youth to community-based agencies that can provide support and specific guidance related to pursuing permanent legal residency once the cap is lifted.
  • Ensure youth have filed for health insurance under the ACA or other health care coverage.
  • Inform and connecting youth to adult education and higher education opportunities.
  • File all the appropriate forms to receive authorization for employment.

Citation: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence , Center for the Study of Social Policy

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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)

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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.

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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.