Category Archives: Benefits

Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Non-RFA Approved Homes

Q: I am a grandmother who is caring for her two grandchildren. My Resource Family Approval (RFA) has not been approved yet. Can I still participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program?

A: Yes, this was addressed in a recent Frequently Asked Questions document disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

Can Bridge funding be used on non-approved Resource Family Approval (RFA) homes?

Yes, families that have a child placed with them in an emergency or for a compelling reason, are eligible to receive a time-limited monthly payment or voucher for child care and a child care navigator subject to county eligibility requirements. See ACL 17-109.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. I8-80, Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children, Question 13 (June 14, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-80.pdf

Resources for Students with Disabilities

Q: I am helping a student with learning disabilities who will be attending community college in the fall. Are there any resources available for her as a student with a disability?

A: Yes, every community college campus has a Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) office. She will need to provide evidence that she has a disability in order to qualify for their services. The DSPS program provides support services, specialized instruction, and educational accommodations to students with disabilities so that they can participate as fully and benefit as equitably from the college experience as their non-disabled peers. Examples of services available through DSPS that are over and above those regularly offered by the college would be test-taking facilitation, assessment for learning disabilities, specialized counseling, interpreter services for hearing-impaired or deaf students, mobility assistance, note taker services, reader services, transcription services, specialized tutoring, access to adaptive equipment, job development/placement, registration assistance, special parking and specialized instruction.

You can find a list of DSPS for each campus here.

Applying to Participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

Q: I am from one of the 16 counties that did not participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children for Fiscal Year 2017-18. I’d like my county to participate for FY 2018-19. What is the process and how much could my county receive if it does?

A: Counties that intend to participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program (Bridge Program) starting July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019 must complete and submit a plan to the Child Care Programs Bureau by July 20, 2018. The plan template is included as an attachment to recently issued All County Letter 18-73.

The minimum funding allocations for counties that opt into the program are also included as an attachment to ACL 18-73. The child care navigator and training allocations were calculated by determining each county’s percentage of eligible caseload to the statewide total eligible caseload. The voucher allocation was calculated utilizing the eligible caseload multiplied by the Regional Market Rate for the appropriate category to develop each county’s percentage of the total statewide allocation.

After approval of submitted plans, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) will distribute any unallocated Bridge Program funds among participating counties. According to CDSS, final allocations for FY 2018-19 will be included in forthcoming County Fiscal Letters along with claiming instructions.

What is the Bridge Program?

The goals of the Bridge Program are to increase the number of foster children successfully placed in home-based family care settings, increase placement stability, increase the capacity of child care programs to meet the needs of foster children, and maximize funding to support the child care needs of eligible families.

Families eligible for the Bridge Program are resource families and families that have a child placed with them in an emergency or for a compelling reason; licensed foster family homes or certified family homes; approved homes of relatives or non-relative extended family members; and parents under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, including but not limited to non-minor dependent parents.

In counties that opt into the Bridge Program, it provides eligible families with a time-limited child care voucher or payment to help pay for child care costs for children birth through age 12, children with exceptional needs, and severely disabled children up to age 21. It also provides a child care navigator to assist with finding a child care provider, securing a subsidized child care placement if eligible, completing child care program applications, and developing a plan for long-term child care appropriate to the child’s age and needs.

Citation:

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 18-73 (June 14, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-73.pdf?ver=2018-06-20-143808-703

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 17-109 (October 27, 2017). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2017/17-109.pdf?ver=2017-10-30-132310-620

Getting Chafee if You Have an Overpayment

Q: Can a student still receive a Chafee grant if they have an outstanding Pell grant overpayment or a loan in default?

A: Yes, a student can receive a Chafee grant even if they have an outstanding Pell grant overpayment or a loan in default. The requirements for the Chafee grant vary somewhat from the Pell grant requirements, and Chafee grants are not held as a result of an outstanding federal Pell grant overpayment or loan default. Eligibility for a Chafee grant differs in a couple other ways from that of a Pell grant as well – students are not required to meet selective service requirements (i.e. draft registration) in order to qualify for a Chafee grant and do not need a high school diploma to be eligible.

Provider Attendance at CFT Meetings

Q: Can a THP+FC provider attend a Child and Family Team (CFT) meeting?

 A: Yes, a THP+FC provider should be invited to attend a CFT. This issue was addressed in a recent Frequently Asked Questions document disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

 “Should providers be invited to attend CFT meetings?

 Yes. When children, youth, and nonminor dependents receive services from private provider organizations, it is imperative that county placing agencies engage those providers in the CFT process, including CFT meetings.

 In reference to ACL 16-84, the CFT composition always includes the child, youth, or nonminor dependent, family members, the current caregiver, a representative from the placing agency, and other individuals identified by the family as being important. A CFT shall also include a representative of the child or youth’s tribe or Indian custodian, behavioral health staff, foster family agency social worker, or STRTP representative, when applicable. Other professionals that may be included are: youth and/or parent partners, public health providers, Court Appointed Special Advocates, school personnel, or others. In addition to formal supports, effective CFT processes support and encourage family members to invite the participation of individuals who are part of their own network of informal support. This may include extended family, friends, neighbors, coaches, clergy, co-workers, or others who the family has identified as a potential source of support”

 Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 18-23, Attachment: Frequently Asked Questions for the Child and Family Team Process, Question 11 (June 1, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-23.pdf

Waiving Court Attendance

Q: Recently I heard a co-worker state that a dependency attorney can waive the child having to appear in court for their hearing. I thought if a child over 10 wanted to attend their court hearing, the attorney could not waive their appearance.

Please let me know if the attorney can waive the child’s appearance, especially when the child knows they have the right to be at their court hearing and they want to attend.

A:  All minors and nonminors in foster care have the right to attend their court hearing and speak to the judge. The important right is included in the foster care bill of rights. To waiver their appearance in court, an attorney must secure their consent prior to the court hearing.

If a child is age 10 or older and does not attend their court hearing, the court is required to determine whether the minor or nonminor was properly notified of his or her right to attend the hearing and inquire whether the minor was given an opportunity to attend. If the court finds that was not the case, the court hearing is continued for the period of time, “necessary to provide notice and secure the presence of the child.”

Source: WIC 16001.9. & WIC 349(d)

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.

Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV)

Q: I am working with a foster youth attending community college. As the summer approaches, she is worried about how to pay for housing and other living expenses. I asked, and it turns out she didn’t receive a Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) for the current academic year.

Can she still get the Chafee ETV for the current academic year? Would she be eligible for any funding over the summer? Also, would a student who is enrolling for the first time at community college this summer be able to get a grant?

A: Chafee ETV funds have not yet been fully expended and she may be able to get the Chafee ETV for the 2017-18 academic year, including the upcoming summer term. New students enrolling for the first time for the summer may also be able to receive a grant. In order to apply she must submit a 2017/2018 FAFSA and a Chafee application.

The California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) administers the Chafee Education and Training Voucher. CSAC will be issuing Chafee awards for students who attended school during the 2017-18 academic year through September 24, 2018. While the $14 million state budget allocation will likely run out before all approved students are granted awards, it is possible that the student you are working with could still receive a grant. If she was enrolled at least half time for the fall and spring terms this year, she could qualify for the full maximum of $5000. If she was enrolled for one term, she could qualify for $2500, plus an additional $2500 if she chooses to enroll in classes over the summer. New students enrolling for the first time for this coming summer may also be able to receive up to $2500.

The deadline to apply for this year is September 10, however the 2017/2018 FAFSA must be submitted and accepted no later than June 30, 2018 to qualify.

It is also worth it to have her to apply for a Chafee ETV for the current academic year because even if the student is not awarded a grant, it may make her a higher priority next year. According to CSAC, prioritization of applications is in part based on the date that the Chafee application is submitted. So, if the young person applies for the Chafee ETV for the 2017-18 academic year and is approved, but is not awarded a grant, that student has a higher likelihood of getting a Chafee ETV in the next academic year than if they wait until later to submit their application.