Author Archives: John Burton Advocates for Youth

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Q: Many of the students I work with lose their financial aid because of satisfactory academic progress (SAP) requirements. Are there any forms of financial aid that are not subject to SAP?

A: While all forms of state and federal financial aid have some form of academic progress standards, some have more flexibility than others. A new law (SB 150) that will take effect on January 1, 2020 will allow students to continue to receive a Chafee ETV grant for two years before they lose eligibility because of SAP. If a student does lose eligibility there are specific criteria that qualify the student for reinstatement that are broader than those used for other forms of aid. To read more about this new law, click HERE.

In addition, the Promise Grant, which covers tuition costs at community colleges, is subject to different standards than sources such as the federal Pell grant and state CalGrant. While this varies by campus, typically the requirements are less stringent, and students can often maintain the fee waiver even when they no longer qualify for other forms of aid.

Finally, if a student does lose financial aid, they should be encouraged to appeal to have aid reinstated. This process can be cumbersome, and they may need support to navigate their college’s SAP appeal process.

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2019 California Earned Income Tax

Q:  I understand that the California Earned Income Tax Credit was expanded last year and that it is now available to transition-age youth, age 18 to 21, regardless of their parenting status.  Is there a minimum amount that a youth has to earn to qualify for the CalEITC? What materials are available to share with youth in my county?

A: Yes, the California EITC (CalEITC) was expanded from $400 million to $1 billion annually in the 2019-20 budget. This expansion made the following changes:

  • Expanded eligibility to families that earn up to $30,000 annually;
  • Increased the maximum credit to $2,982 for CalEITC, plus a maximum credit of $6,557 for federal EITC
  • Added a Young Child Tax Credit, which is an additional credit of up to $1,000 for tax filers who meet CalEITC requirements and have a child under six years old by the end of the year.

The California Franchise Tax Board has updated its materials for the 2019 tax year. To download the updated materials, follow this LINK.

John Burton Advocates for Youth will host a website on strategies to help transition-age youth access the CalEITC on January 30, 2020 from 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. To register, follow this LINK.

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College Benefits for Homeless Students

Q: I know that homeless students can qualify for independent status on the FAFSA as well as priority registration. If a student qualifies as independent for the purposes of the FAFSA, based on their status as a homeless student, do they automatically qualify for priority registration as well? Is the reverse true?

A: As of January 1, 2020, AB 806 will expand the definition of homelessness used for priority registration to include students who become homeless after entering college as well as those who were homeless prior to college application. As such, most students who qualify as independent on the FAFSA based on homeless status will meet the eligibility criteria for priority registration. The one exception to this is that if a student qualifies on the FAFSA based on being “self-supporting and at-risk of becoming homeless” they may not qualify for priority registration.

Other than the “at-risk” qualification, both benefits rely on the McKinney-Vento definition of homelessness, namely that the student “lacks fixed, regular and adequate housing.” Key differences between the two benefits are as follows:

  • For FAFSA a student must be unaccompanied, whereas this is not the case for priority registration.
  • For FAFSA a student must have been homeless on or after July 1 of the year in which they are applying but for priority registration, a youth can have been homeless at any time during the 24 months prior to the college receiving their application or be currently homeless.
  • For FAFSA a student must reverify their status every year whereas for priority registration once a student is verified as homeless, they retain that status for a period of 6 years or until they reach age 25, whichever comes first.

Want to learn more about how to complete the FAFSA for a homeless student? Check out our recent webinar recording HERE.

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Q of the W: Credit Reports for Non-Minor Dependents

Q: I’m working with a Non-Minor Dependent (NMD) that is experiencing identity theft. I thought requirements were in place to prevent this type of thing from happening. Do NMDs receive assistance with checking their credit histories and addressing identity theft?

A: Yes, Non-Minor Dependents (NMDs) may receive assistance from their county social worker or probation officer with checking their credit histories and addressing identity theft, however because NMDs are adults who have the choice to request their credit reports just as any other adult can under federal law, the assistance they receive is at the discretion.

County agencies are required to inform NMDs of the advisability of requesting credit reports and provide annual assistance in doing so if the NMD desires. Specifically, the social worker or probation officer must ensure the NMD receives assistance in requesting and reviewing the reports. If a NMD needs help requesting their credit reports, counties can obtain written permission from the NMD to request their credit reports on their behalf. County agencies must refer NMDs to appropriate resources to aid in clearing their credit reports of inaccuracies.

If a NMD does not request their credit reports on an annual basis, the social worker/probation officer is encouraged to continue to discuss, at monthly visits or other opportunities, the importance of checking one’s credit reports and maintaining good credit as part of a healthy financial management strategy.

Citation: California Department of Social Services, All County Information Notice I-47-19 (2019); All County Letter 14-23 (2014)

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Funding for Homes Not Yet Approved as Resource Families

Q: Can a home that is not yet approved as a Resource Family provide foster care placement on an emergency basis and still receive funding for the placement?

A: Yes. Effective July 1, 2019, when a county places a child or non-minor dependent on an emergency or temporary basis or for a compelling reason with a relative or nonrelative extended family member prior to Resource Family Approval (RFA), that emergency caregiver will receive a payment equivalent to the basic level rate, which is $1,000 for Fiscal Year 2019-20. The emergency caregiver funding is first provided on the date of placement and is funded through either the Emergency Assistance (EA) Program or, for children who are determined to be ineligible for the EA Program, through a combination of state and county funding.

Extended family members of an Indian child pending approval as a Tribally Approved Home are also eligible if the child or youth is placed on an emergency or temporary basis, however not when placed for a compelling reason.

Citation:

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 19-84 (September 4, 2019). https://gallery.mailchimp.com/73901133dd7ea1a5581344daf/files/86bfa1e9-cfcb-40c3-9fc7-9e9899310730/19_84_ES.pdf

California Welfare & Institutions Code § 309, 361.45 & 16519.5

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Community College Assessment and Remediation

Q: Do students who are entering community college still need to take assessment tests in math and English to determine if they need to take remedial classes?

A: Under a new law, Assembly Bill 705 (Irwin), community colleges in California are required to use students’ high school grades as the primary means of placement rather than assessment tests, which are notoriously unreliable predictors. The law also restricts colleges from denying students access to transferable, college-level courses and gives students the right to begin in courses where they have the best chance of completing the English and math requirements for a bachelor’s degree.

A recent report from the Campaign for College Opportunity, however, found mixed results in how this law has been implemented. They looked at 47 community colleges in the Central Valley, the Inland Empire, and greater Los Angeles. On the positive side, colleges have approximately doubled the proportion of transfer-level classes they offer. There has also been dramatic growth in the number of colleges offering corequisite remediation—that is, curricular models in which students receive additional support while enrolled in transferable, college-level classes. Most colleges are allowing all students to enroll directly in transferable, college-level courses, in compliance with the law, however, there are some exceptions.

At many colleges, however, remedial courses continue to constitute a large proportion of course offerings, especially in math, and students are not being fully informed both about the pros and cons of enrolling in remedial courses and their rights as defined in AB 705. Although expressly prohibited by new Title 5 regulations, some colleges still embed “readiness tests” deep within their guided placement tools.

It is crucial that, until the bill is fully implemented, professionals educate themselves and students about how to advocate to ensure that students are enrolling in courses that maximize their likelihood of success.

To read the full report, CLICK HERE. To read more about AB 705, follow this LINK.

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Eligibility Requirements for the 3rd Year THP-Plus Extension for Youth in School

Q: I am working with a youth who is interested in remaining in her THP-Plus program for the third year as part of the THP-Plus extension for youth enrolled in school, established in 2014 by Senate Bill 1252 (Torres). Are there any minimum GPA requirements for youth participating in the extension?

A: No, there are no Grade Point Average requirements for a youth to access THP-Plus for an additional 12 months or up to the age of 25. The THP-Plus extension for youth in school was established by Senate Bill 1252 (Torres) in 2014 and took effect January 1, 2015. Following are the eligibility requirements for the third-year THP-Plus extension:

  • Meet basic eligibility requirements for THP-Plus.
    • Have an order for out-of-home placement on 18th birthday; and
    • Enter into a Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) that shall be mutually agreed upon, and annually reviewed by the youth and county welfare or probation department or independent living coordinator.
  • Be completing a secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential or enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary education, including vocational education if from an accredited institution.

The THP-Plus extension for youth enrolled in school is optional for counties, however, once a county opts-in, the extension must be offered to all eligible youth, not applied on a case-by-case basis. Currently, 28 counties offer the extension. A list of these counties can be found here: https://www.jbaforyouth.org/thp-plus-extension/.

Citation:

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Burton Book Fund

Q: I am working with a former foster youth who needs financial resources to purchase his college textbooks and course materials this semester. How do I find out which campuses are participating in the Burton Book Fund this year and help him apply?

A:  The list of participating campuses for the 2019-2020 Burton Book Fund can be found HERE. If the student’s campus is participating, have him/her reach out to the campus representative listed and meet with that person to submit an application to receive a $200 Burton Book Fund. For more information about the Burton Book Fund, please visit this PAGE.

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SB 89 Pre-Approval Curriculum

Q: My county is currently bringing our Resource Family (RF) pre-approval training into compliance with the SB 89 provision that requires RF pre-approval training to include training on reproductive and sexual health rights of foster youth, duties and responsibilities of caregivers and caseworkers to uphold those rights, how to engage with youth about sexual and reproductive wellness, and current contraceptive methods and resources to share with youth. Is there a curriculum that has been already developed on these topics that my county could use?  

A: Yes, there is a curriculum available that fulfills the training mandates for RF pre-approval training. It was developed by John Burton Advocates for Youth (JBAY) and Seneca Family of Agencies. and all curriculum materials can be found through this LINK. Spanish version of the curriculum materials will be available in Septemeber 2019. Additional training curricula on supporting sexual and reproductive health for youth in foster care can be found HERE

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Foster Youth Residency Status Issue Fixed in CCCApply

Q: In the past, after completing the community college application on CCCApply, foster youth have sometimes been required to provide additional documentation to the admissions and records office at their college to prove residency status, even when they have never lived outside of California. Has anything been done to remove this barrier?

A: Yes, this barrier has been addressed by adding foster care as an exemption, described further below.

In CCCApply, students under the age of 19 are asked to provide information about a Parent/Guardian, which is used to determine residency status. When a student selects “guardian” rather than “mother” or “father,” a flag is triggered that requires the student to provide additional verification to the admissions and records office.

On the “Account Information” page (for students under 19 only) there is a list of criteria which exempt a student from needing to provide parent/guardian information (such as being married, active military, no living parent, etc.). Being “in foster care after your 13th birthday” is now included in this list of exemptions. If the student selects this, they are not asked for the name of a parent or guardian and their residency status will be determined based on their residency information rather than that of a parent or guardian.

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