Category Archives: Eligibility

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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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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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/.

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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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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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County Policies on Out-of-County Youth in THP-Plus

Q: I work with a non-minor dependent who is turning 21 soon and is interested in moving across the state. This young person has encountered some significant challenges over the last couple of years and is a new parent. She could really benefit from some extended support beyond 21. Would it be possible for her to access a THP-Plus program outside her county of jurisdiction?

A: Yes, nearly all 47 counties with THP-Plus programs accept out-of-county youth in their program, pending openings. John Burton Advocates for Youth maintains a webpage that lists which counties accept out-of-county youth in their THP-Plus program here: https://www.jbaforyouth.org/out-of-county-youth-thp-plus/. This webpage was just updated in March 2019 to reflect counties’ current policies.

Because waiting lists can be quite long, it would be best to reach out to the program sooner than later so that if there is a waiting list, she can get on it. She should also make sure and tell the program that she is a custodial parent so that they are aware of her housing needs.

Citation: https://www.jbaforyouth.org/out-of-county-youth-thp-plus/

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List of Counties that Have Opted into the THP-Plus Extension

Q: I’m currently nearing the end of my 24 months in the THP-Plus program. I’m working on getting my AA degree, and would really like to stay in the program until I finish. I’ve heard that some counties allow youth to remain in THP-Plus for an additional 12 months if they are in school. How do I find out whether my county offers this?

A: You are correct. Senate Bill 1252 (Torres) established the option for counties to extend their THP-Plus programs for youth enrolled in school for an additional 12 months and up to the age of 25. This law went into effect January 1, 2015.

Currently, 27 counties have opted into the THP-Plus extension. These counties are listed, along with additional information about the THP-Plus extension on the JBAY website at the following URL: https://www.jbaforyouth.org/thp-plus-extension/

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CalGrant Extension

Q: I heard that foster youth can now receive a CalGrant for eight years instead of four years under a bill passed this year by the legislature. If a foster youth is already receiving a CalGrant, can they still get the full eight years or is it only for students who get new awards moving forward?

A: All foster youth who otherwise qualify can receive the grant for the full eight years, regardless of whether they are already receiving a CalGrant or not. Representatives from the California Student Aid Commission shared this on a webinar last week. To view the entire webinar, CLICK HERE.

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Non-Minor Dependents in the Military

Q: I’m working with a youth who is interested in joining the military. Can he still participate in extended foster care if he enlists?

A: He can participate in extended foster care as long as he is not on active duty in the military. A person who is on active duty is a full-time member of the military, and this includes the period of basic training (also known as boot camp).

Persons in the military reserves or National Guard are considered part-time military personnel, and so they are not on active duty and are eligible for extended foster care benefits (if all other extended foster care eligibility requirements are met) until called upon to serve in active duty.

Youth who are enlisted in the military but not on active duty (including those participating in a ROTC program), are eligible for extended foster care except during extended training if the military program does not allow a social worker/probation officer to conduct monthly visitation and supervision during this time. The youth would be eligible to re-enter foster care as soon as caseworker visitation can resume.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. 18-101, Eligibility for Extended Foster Care (EFC) For Married Youth and Youth Performing Non-Active Duty Military Service, (September 12, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-101.pdf

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Work Requirements for THP-Plus

Q:  I’m working with a homeless former foster youth who attempted to access housing through our local THP-Plus program, but he was told by a social worker that he did not meet the work requirements to enter the program. Is this part of the THP-Plus eligibility requirements? 

A: No, work requirements are not part of THP-Plus eligibility. Youth eligible for the THP-Plus program:

  • are at least 18 years of age and not more than 24 years of age*
  • have exited from the foster care system on or after his or her 18th birthday
  • have not previously received services through THP-Plus for more than a total of 24 months, whether or not consecutive*
  • *a county may, at its option, extend THP-Plus to a former foster youth not more than 25 years of age, and for a total of 36 months if they are completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential, or enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary education.

As a condition of participation in THP-Plus, the youth shall 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 program coordinator.

While many youth may have employment or education listed as a goal in their TILP, there is no blanket work or school requirement as a condition of THP-Plus eligibility, and there is a high likelihood that youth entering the program are not yet meeting the goals in their TILP, but are working toward them.

Citation: Welfare & Institutions Code 11403.2(a)(2)

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