Category Archives: Benefits

Can youth receive unemployment in California?

Q: I understand that Congress is considering extending the current unemployment benefits. Can youth receive unemployment in California?

A: Yes, youth can receive unemployment insurance in California where there are no minimum age requirements, as long as they meet other eligibility requirements:

  • They lost job through no fault of their own
  • They earned enough money during a four-quarter base period:
    • $1,300 in the highest quarter of their base period* [or]
    • $900 in their highest quarter and
    • Total base period earnings of 1.25x their high quarter earnings
  • They must be able, available, and actively seeking work

*A base period is a specific 12-month term used to determine eligibility

It is also important to note that several youth may be eligible for unemployment insurance that previously were not. The categories of eligibility have been expanded to include the following types of workers impacted by the Coronavirus:

  • Self-employed workers (earned income from own work rather than as an employee)
  • Freelancers, e.g. baby-sitter, tutor, blogger, photographer, etc.
  • Independent contractors e.g. Lyft/Uber driver, barber/hair stylist, gardener, personal trainer, etc.
  • Part-time workers who had a reduction in hours

Weekly benefit amounts range from $40 to $450, and right now, those receiving unemployment get an additional $600 per week until the end of July. Congress is currently considering extending this additional benefit amount beyond July 31, 2020.

Apply for unemployment insurance HERE.

Read a fact sheet developed by the L.A. Opportunity Youth Collaborative for step-by-step instructions to apply, and for other helpful information about applying for unemployment insurance.

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Will Unemployment Benefits and Stimulus Payments Impact Financial Aid?

Q: If a student receives unemployment benefits during COVID-19, do they need to report them as income on the FAFSA? What about other benefits like stimulus payments or emergency aid a student receives from their campus?

A: Unemployment benefits, including those received in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic, must be reported as income on the FAFSA.  Since the FAFSA is on a prior-prior year basis, this income, which will be reported on their 2020 federal income tax return,  and would be reported on the 2022-2023 FAFSA but would not impact their current financial aid award.

In contrast, Economic Impact Payments, or stimulus checks, are not considered taxable income and do not affect their financial aid eligibility, either now or in the future. These checks do not need to be reported on the FAFSA.

In addition, emergency financial aid grants to students and other financial aid received from the government in connection with the Coronavirus pandemic do not need to be reported as income on the FAFSA and do not affect students’ financial aid. Emergency aid from other than a governmental source, however, including emergency aid made available by a college campus not paid for by CARES Act funding, may be considered “Estimated Financial Assistance” and may reduce a student’s financial aid award. In this scenario, students should request that the financial aid office exercise professional judgment to increase the student’s cost of attendance to make room for the aid.

For further information on student emergency aid and taxation, refer to the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance.

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Expanded Eligibility and Timing for Unemployment Insurance

Q: Many of the youth who I work with are part-time workers or a part of the gig economy, and they have either lost their jobs or had their hours reduced, as a result of the coronavirus. Can they still file for unemployment? 

A:

Yes, and they should apply as soon as possible. California has expanded unemployment insurance eligibility to include self-employed workers, freelancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers for up to 39 weeksMany youth who work as Lyft or Uber drivers, babysitters, dog walkers, or tutors, among other jobs, are now protected. In addition, youth who still have a job and had their hours reduced are also protected.  

In general, to qualify for unemployment insurance in California, one must have lost their job or experienced reduced hours through no fault of their own; met certain earnings thresholds during a base period; and be actively seeking new employment. To check their eligibility, youth should register as soon as possible with the State of California Employment Development Department on their phone or computer or call 1-800-300-5616 for directions on how to apply by phone, mail, or fax. 

If they qualify, youth can receive weekly benefits from $40-450, depending on their previous earnings, and right now, if approved, they would get an additional $600 week until the end of JulyFunds will arrive approximately 2-4 weeks after approval, so youth are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and should be prepared to “recertify for benefits” every two weeks. 

For more information refer to this fact sheet created by the Alliance for Children’s Rights. 

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Infant Supplement Payment Eligibility

Q: I work with parenting youth, how do I know if they are eligible for the infant supplement payment? Can both parents receive the infant supplement payment for their child?

A: The Department of Social Services has issued an All County Information Notice clarifying infant supplement eligibility, ACIN NO. I-10-20. The department clarifies that the following parenting youth populations who are living with their non-dependent child are eligible:

  • Youth under delinquency jurisdiction who are residing in foster care.
  • Nonminor dependents (NMDs) in Extended Foster Care.
  • Youth in non-related legal guardianships receiving AFDC-FC payments.
  • Youth receiving Kin-Guardianship Assistance Payment (Kin-GAP) payments.
  • Youth receiving Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) payments.

The department further clarified that either male or female parenting youth may be eligible for an infant supplement and that all eligible teens and nonminor dependents be screened for current or expectant parents. Only one infant supplement may be paid per eligible child. If both parents are eligible, the infant supplement must be paid to the parent with primary physical custody of the child.

See more question of the week answers related to the infant supplement 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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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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How Does Adult Adoption of a Non-minor Dependent Impact Extended Foster Care Eligibility?

Q: I am working with a nonminor dependent in a Supervised Independent Living Placement who is residing with a supportive adult mentor. The youth’s mentor has offered to adopt him, but they would like to better understand how an adult adoption would impact the youth’s eligibility for extended foster care. Would he still be in extended foster care? Would any circumstances change? 

A: No, if the youth is adopted, he would no longer be in extended foster care – his case would be closed. There are a number of factors to consider, along with the youth’s desire for permanency and the perceived stability of this permanency option. Below are the tangible circumstances that would change if he chose to proceed with the adult adoption:

  • Child welfare agency & court supervision: He would no longer have a court-appointed attorney, monthly visits with a county social worker, or six-month court review hearings.
  • Access to placement options: He would no longer have the option of a foster care placement such as a foster home, relative caregiver, Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) or Transitional Housing Placement Program for Nonminor Dependents (THPP-NMD); nor the supportive services associated with some placements (i.e. THPP-NMD).
  • Financial support: The financial support he would be eligible for would be an Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) payment, which would go to his adoptive parent(s). AAP, like foster care, was extended to age 21 by Assembly Bill 12. The monthly AAP rate is the basic rate, which is $1,000 in FY 2019-20, and can be increased to $1,112, $1,225, or $1,337, depending on the needs of the youth and as negotiated with the county.[1] He would no longer receive a monthly foster care payment. In his current placement—a SILP—this payment amount is the basic rate ($1,000 in FY 2019-20) and can go to him directly.
  • Support beyond age 21: He would maintain his eligibility for the THP-Plus program for former foster youth, which provides affordable housing and supportive services. Youth who were in foster care on or after their 18th birthdays are eligible for THP-Plus once they exit care for up to 24 months between the ages of 18 and 24 (up to 36 months and/or age 25 if in school, in counties that have opted into the THP-Plus extension).[2]
  • Health care: As a former foster youth who was in care on his 18th birthday, he would maintain his eligibility for Medi-Cal up to age 26.[3]
  • Educational financial aid:
    • He would maintain eligibility for independent student status because he was in foster care after turning 13. Independent students are not required to include any parental income on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; aid is calculated based on the student’s income only, therefore usually making them eligible for all need-based aid.
    • He would also maintain eligibility for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher, which provides up to $5,000 per year to youth who were in foster care between age 16 and 18.[4]
    • Lastly, he would be eligible for special exemptions and rules that apply to current and former foster youth for the Cal Grant[5] and the California Community College Promise Grant.[6]

Citation:

[1] California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 19-58 (June 28, 2019). https://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2019/19-58_ES.pdf

[2] Welfare & Institutions Code §11403.2(2)

[3] For information about health care coverage for former foster youth up to age 26, visit Children Now’s website: http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/

[4] California Student Aid Commission. https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/

[5] California Student Aid Commission. Special Alert: Cal Grant B Eligibility Expansion for Foster Youth-Update (July, 8, 2019). https://www.csac.ca.gov/sites/default/files/file-attachments/gsa_2019-19.pdf

[6] John Burton Advocates for Youth. Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth. https://www.jbaforyouth.org/ca-fy-financial-aid-guide/ (see page 5 for financial aid eligibility – foster youth are not subject to Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements for the California Community College Promise Grant).

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CalFresh Eligibility for SSI Recipients

Q: I’m working with a former foster youth who receives Supplemental Security Income (SSI). She previously applied for CalFresh but was denied due to her ineligibility as an SSI recipient. Has this eligibility restriction changed?

A: Yes, it has changed. As of June 1, 2019, individuals receiving Supplemental Security Income or State Supplemental Program payments (SSI/SSP) are eligible for CalFresh, provided all other eligibility criteria are satisfied.

John Burton Advocates for Youth’s FAQ on CalFresh for Non-Minor Dependents has been updated to reflect this change.

For resources related to the CalFresh expansion to SSI/SSP recipients, visit http://www.cdss.ca.gov/inforesources/CalFresh/Supplemental-Security-Income/Resources.


Citation:

Assembly Bill 1811 (2018). https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1811

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 18-90 (July 31, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-90.pdf?ver=2018-07-31-142643-887

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 18-90E (April 10, 2019). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-90E.pdf?ver=2019-04-16-090819-407

 

 

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Former Foster Youth with Non-Related Legal Guardians Qualify for Medi-Cal to Age 26

Q: I’m working with a former foster youth who was in a Non-Related Legal Guardianship (NRLG). Is this youth eligible for extended Medi-Cal to age 26, given she was in a NRLG?

A: If this former foster youth moved into the Non-Related Legal Guardianship (NRLG) and remained under the care and placement of the state or tribe, he or she is eligible for extended Medi-Cal benefits.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, California passed a law in 2013 allowing youth who were in foster care on their 18th birthday or later to qualify for free Medi-Cal until age 26. All County Welfare Directors Letter (ACWDL) 19-08 explains that a youth moved into a NRLG who remains under the care and placement of the state or tribe is eligible for extended Medi-Cal benefits under the Former Foster Youth Program.

Citation: California Department of Health Care Service. All County Welfare Directors Letter 19-08 (2019). https://www.dhcs.ca.gov/services/medi-cal/eligibility/Documents/ACWDL/2019/19-08.pdf

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