Monthly Archives: May 2018

Housing Resources for Youth who Exited Foster Care at Age 16

Q: I exited foster care to guardianship at age 16. I am now 22 and am homeless. I understand that because I was not in care on my 18th birthday that I am not eligible for the THP-Plus program. Are there any housing resources that I might be eligible for?

A: Yes, you might be able to access a Family Unification Program (FUP) voucher to assist with the cost of housing, if there are vouchers available in your area. FUP is a program under which Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), also commonly known as Section 8 vouchers, are provided to:

  • Families for whom the lack of adequate housing is a primary factor in either the imminent placement of the family’s children in out-of-home care or delay in the discharge of the children to the family from out-of-home care.
  • Youth at least 18 years old and not more than 24 years old who left foster care at age 16 or older or will leave foster care within 90 days and are homeless or at risk of homelessness.* FUP vouchers used by youth are limited to 36 months of housing assistance.

*For information about the definition of “at risk of homelessness,” see a FUP factsheet by HUD.

Currently, 33 housing authorities in California administer 3,159 FUP vouchers in partnership with their county child welfare agencies. In addition to rental assistance provided through the voucher, the child welfare agency provides supportive services to the youth for the first 18 months.

For transition-age former foster youth, the child welfare agency initially determines if the youth meets the FUP eligibility requirements, certifies that the youth is eligible, and refers those youth to the housing authority. Once child welfare makes the referral, the housing authority places the FUP applicant on its HCV waiting list and determines whether the youth meets HCV program eligibility requirements.

Income eligibility for a housing voucher is determined by the housing authority based on the total annual gross income and family size compared with the HUD-established income limits for the area. In general, the youth’s income may not exceed 50% of the median income (very low-income limit) for the county or metropolitan area in which the family or youth chooses to live. Median income levels are published by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). For example, for the State of California, the Very Low-Income Limit for a household of one is $27,150/year, however when calculated by county it will vary.

To find out whether FUP vouchers are available in your area, contact the Independent Living Program (ILP) at your county’s child welfare agency, or your local housing authorities. Click HERE for a list of ILP coordinators by county, or HERE for a list of city and county housing authorities in California. For more information about the process after a youth receives a FUP voucher, read the FUP factsheet by HUD.

Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) has introduced legislation to permanently reauthorize $200 million annually for FUP vouchers. For more information about the bill, read a recent press release.

Citation:  

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of Housing Voucher Programs. Fact Sheet, Housing Choice Voucher Program, Family Unification Program. https://www.hud.gov/sites/documents/FUP_FACT_SHEET.PDF

U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. Income Limits. https://www.huduser.gov/portal/datasets/il.html

Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) and Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC)

Q: What is the difference between Therapeutic Foster Care (TFC) and Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC)?

A: The Therapeutic Family Care (TFC) service model allows for the provision of short‐term, intensive, highly coordinated, trauma-informed and individualized Specialty Mental Health Service activities (plan development, rehabilitation and collateral) to children and youth up to age 21 who have complex emotional and behavioral needs and who are placed with trained, intensely supervised and supported TFC parents.

Intensive Services Foster Care (ISFC) is a state licensed Foster Family Agency model for eligible foster children, youth and Non-Minor Dependents who require specially trained resource parents and intensive services and support to remain in a home ‐based setting, or to avoid or exit congregate care in a short ‐term residential therapeutic program, group home, or out ‐of‐state residential center.

Still confused or want more  information? If so, attend a web seminar on Wednesday,  May 30th from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  hosted by the Department of Healthcare Services the California Department of Social Services to explain the differences between these two important programs. The webinar will help counties and providers understand TFC and ISFC requirements, including similarities and differences between them, and how ITFC and TFC can support children, youth, and their families.

Slides and resource materials will be e-mailed to registered participants prior to the webinar.  To register, follow this link.

Source: WIC §18360 et seq, All County Letter I-91-17 and accompanying toolkit.

IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter

Q: I assisted an 18-year-old with her FAFSA. She reported on her FAFSA that she didn’t file taxes, but is now being asked by her college to submit an IRS Verification of Nonfiling Letter. I’ve never heard of this form before. How do I assist the student with submitting it? 

A: The FAFSA now uses “prior-prior” year tax data, so for the 2018-2019 school year, 2016 taxes would be used. Many students do not file taxes because they have earned less than the standard deduction. Students applying for the 2018-2019 academic school year who did not file taxes may now be required to submit an IRS Verification of Non-Filing Letter. This letter confirms that the IRS has not received a federal income tax return from the individual. The Verification of Nonfiling Letter is not an indication that the person is not required to file a return, just that they did not file one.

To obtain an IRS Verification of NonFiling Letter, the student will need to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript. This can be a complicated process and many students will need assistance.

1. A student can request their transcript online at https://www.irs.gov/individuals/get-transcript. Through this website the student can either have their transcript sent to them online or via mail.

  • To obtain a transcript online, the student must satisfy certain security requirements such as owning a cell phone with their name on the account and having a credit card, auto loan or mortgage in their name. These requirements may be difficult for many students to satisfy and therefore they may need to request their transcript be sent to them via mail.
  • To have the transcript mailed via the online tool, it will take 5-10 days to receive the tax transcript. Generally, there will be no address on file with the IRS if the student has never filed taxes. In this case, the letter will be mailed to the current address they provide. However, the IRS may already have the student’s address in their system, such as from W-2 or 1099 statements or a prior tax return. In this case, the mailing address on the form must match the address on file with the IRS. If the student’s current mailing address does not match the address on file with the IRS, the student should first file IRS Form 8822 to change their address, which will take approximately 10 days.
  • Students may also call the IRS automated phone transcript service at 800-908-9946 to order a tax return or tax account transcript to be sent by mail.

2. Alternately, the student can complete IRS Form 4506-T on paper, check box 7 and send this form by mail or fax. On line 5 of IRS Form 4506-T the student can specify that the Verification of Nonfiling Letter be sent to a third-party address. In most cases the student should have it sent to themselves, not directly to the college. However, it is best to ask each college what they prefer. If a student submits this paper form by mail, it will take 7-14 days to be processed.

Note that there is no fee for obtaining the Verification of Nonfiling Letter or a tax transcript. If the student says there is a $50 fee, they are filing the wrong form. The form that is required is IRS Form 4506-T, not IRS Form 4506.

Appeal Process for Late Cal Grant GPA Submission

Q: I am working with a student who is counting on receiving a Cal Grant to cover his college expenses this fall. He completed his FAFSA by March 2, but his high school did not submit his Grade Point Average (GPA) by that date, as required.
 
I understand there is an appeal process for late GPA submission with an upcoming deadline of Wednesday, May 16. Any advice on submitting a successful appeal?

A: Yes, you are correct. He can still be considered for a Cal Grant, if he is successful in submitting the appeal by Wednesday, May 16th. State regulations allow Entitlement Cal Grant applicants to appeal the late submission of their Cal Grant GPA if circumstances beyond their control delayed or prevented them from submitting a verified GPA by the March 2nd filing deadline.

According to a memo from the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC), if the appeal is accepted, the student will be processed for Entitlement Cal Grant award consideration and will receive correspondence from CSAC based on their application status. If the appeal is not accepted and the student is planning on attending a community college, the GPA will be retained and considered for the September 2nd Competitive Cal Grant award. Visit CSAC’s website to access the Late Cal Grant GPA Appeal Form.

Advice for completing the appeal form is to focus on factors that were beyond the student’s control, such as:

  • School did not submit the GPA in a timely manner
  • School submitted weighted GPA instead of unweighted GPA
  • Student was not aware of Cal Grant eligibility or thought themselves ineligible*
  • Student was under the impression that the school would submit the GPA on student’s behalf, however the school was not required to do so (the law requires public and charter schools to electronically upload GPAs for current high school seniors)
  • Filed the form on time, but it was lost in the mail
  • Typos on the form, such as the wrong social security number
  • Form was not signed

*In this situation in particular, it is important to fully describe how this might have occurred, including disclosing the student’s foster youth status which may indicate a lack of supportive adults or advocates to assist the student with the financial aid process. There is no guarantee that the appeal will be granted, so placing as much emphasis on the factors beyond the student’s control is recommended.

For more information on the Cal Grant GPA submission process, including how to verify whether a student’s GPA was in fact submitted, read a previous Question of the Week on the topic.

Citation:

California Student Aid Commission. Operations Memo (April 25, 2018). http://www.csac.ca.gov/sites/main/files/file-attachments/gom_2018-12.pdf

AB12 Re-entry Contacts

Q: I exited the foster care system last year after I turned 18, am now 19 and would like to re-enter. I lost my county social worker’s phone number. Who do I call if I want to re-enter?

A:You can use the AB12 re-entry contact list. Scroll down to find your county and there will be a phone number and email address to contact.

To re-enter extended foster care, you must sign a voluntary re-entry agreement (SOC 163), which provides the county with the authority for placement for 180 days. Once this is signed, foster care benefits begin the date the agreement is signed or the date that you are placed in a qualified placement, whichever is later. You must agree to satisfy one of the five participation conditions of extended foster care – which is indicated by your signing the SOC 163 – then continue to satisfy that requirement pending completion of the Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) that documents your continuing participation.

For more information on extended foster care, visit the California Fostering Connections to Success Act section of the JBAY website.