Category Archives: Extended Foster Care

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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Independent Student Status on the FAFSA – Foster or Homeless Youth?

Q: I’m trying to help a 22-year-old young woman complete the FAFSA before the priority deadline of March 2. This young woman did spend time in foster care but is also currently homeless. In the dependency section, for the purposes of establishing independent student status, should she indicate her foster care history or her current homelessness status? I see you cannot indicate both. 

A: If the young woman was in foster care at any time since turning 13, she should check this box and be granted independent student status by way of her foster care history, instead of her homelessness status.

Homelessness determinations only last that upcoming school year, then require annual verification that the student was “an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or is self-supporting and at risk of being homeless” any time on or after July 1 of the year prior to the award year. However, youth who were in foster care or were dependents or wards of the court any time since turning 13 are considered independent students in subsequent years by way of their foster care history without having to re-verify.

The homeless youth determination process is also more cumbersome than the foster care verification process, which is now automated.

For help with assisting foster youth with completing the FAFSA, refer to JBAY’s Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth, which includes a Visual Guide.

For help with assisting homeless youth with completing the FAFSA, refer to JBAY’s Visual Guide to Assist Homeless Youth with Completing the FAFSA.

Citation: 2018-19 Federal Student Aid Handbook, Application and Verification Guide (https://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1819FSAHbkAVG.pdf)

 

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IRS Verification of Nonfiling

Q: Last year, students who submitted a FAFSA but hadn’t filed a tax return were required to submit a “verification of nonfiling letter” from the IRS. This was a very onerous requirement and students struggled to obtain the documentation. Have there been any changes to this requirement to make it easier?

A: The Department of Education issued a notice recently outlining some changes to these requirements. According to the notice, institutions now have greater flexibility when verifying a student’s nonfiling status. The notice states that if the individual is unable to obtain verification from the IRS or other tax authorities and, based upon the institution’s determination, it has no reason to question the student’s good-faith effort to obtain the required documentation, the institution may accept a signed statement certifying that the individual attempted to obtain the verification and was unable to obtain the documentation along with W-2 forms from any source of employment income.

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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/

Citation:

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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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Statewide List of Comprehensive Sexual Education Providers

Q: I understand that Senate Bill 89 requires county child welfare agencies to ensure that foster youth receive comprehensive sexual education once in middle school and once in high school. I’m working with a youth who missed this class in her high school.

The child welfare agency has attempted to work with the school so that she can take it out of sequence, but it doesn’t appear to be an option. Who can the county worker refer her to in order to receive the required education?

A: You are correct. The California Foster Youth Sexual Health Education Act (Senate Bill 89), which went into effect on July 1, 2017 requires the county child welfare caseworker to ensure that every youth age 10 and older, including non-minor dependents if still in high school, receive comprehensive sexual education (CSE) once in middle school and once in high school. For youth who do not receive CSE, child welfare workers must document in the case plan how that requirement will be met.

The California Healthy Youth Act (CHYA) requires that schools provide CSE to students, however some foster youth miss this course as a result of school changes or absences. For a youth who misses CSE, the child welfare worker should first try to coordinate with the student’s school/district to provide the course out of sequence, over the summer, or if a multi-school district, at another school. If this is not possible, the child welfare worker must refer that student to a community-based provider to receive CSE.

To find a provider in your area, first check this roster to see if there is an organization funded to provide CSE through the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP) or the Information & Education (I&E) Program. If there is not a PREP or I&E provider in your area, refer to this statewide roster of Planned Parenthood affiliates, which notes whether they provide CHYA-compliant CSE for interested parties.

For more information about SB 89, visit a page on the JBAY website: http://www.jbaforyouth.org/california-foster-youth-sexual-health-education-act-sb89/.

Citation:

Statewide Planned Parenthood Roster maintained by JBAY: http://www.jbaforyouth.org/plannedparenthoodlist/

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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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Educational Opportunity Program deadlines at Cal State Universities

Q: I am planning to submit an application to a Cal State University this month. I want to apply for the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and I heard that I need to do that with my application, but I just realized that I need to provide two letters of recommendation to apply for EOP. Is there any way that I can submit the letters after the November 30 application deadline?

A: While you must indicate on your admissions application if you would like to be considered for the Educational Opportunity Program, the deadline for submitting the required materials, including autobiographical essays and letters of recommendation falls after November 30. The deadlines vary by school, and range between December 7 and January 31, depending on the institution. To see the deadline for each institution, follow this LINK.

The CSU’s Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) provides admission, academic and financial support services to historically underserved students throughout California including low-income, first generation and foster youth students. Some foster youth support programs require enrollment in EOP in order to participate. In addition to indicating on the admissions application that they would like to apply for EOP, students must apply for financial aid and must complete autobiographical essay questions and provide two letters of recommendation from individuals who can comment about the student’s potential to succeed in college such as a counselor, teacher, community member, or employer.

Make sure that you apply for the program with your CSU application as students will not be admitted to the program after they enroll in school.

Health Assessment and Dental Care Requirement

Q: I am a THP+FC provider. Are Non-Minor Dependents required to get a health check-up every year and if so, who is responsible for ensuring this occurs? What about dental care?

A: Yes, all children, youth and young adults in foster care are required to receive at least one health assessment annually up to age 21. Additionally, children, youth and NMDs in foster care up to age 21 must also receive one dental referral every six-months. This went into effect on July 1, 2016.

The county social worker is responsible for ensuring that children, youth and NMDs in foster care are up-to-date on their annual medical appointments, including dental care. This includes medical appointments where a youth or NMD may receive sexual or reproductive health services.

Sources:

Manual of Policies and Procedures section 31-405.24

All County Letter 17-22

A Guide for Case Managers: Assisting Foster Youth with Healthy Sexual Development and Pregnancy Prevention

Is there an amount required to be spent on clothing within a Resource Family’s foster care rate?

Q: Is any specific amount of a Resource Family’s monthly foster care rate required to be spent on the child’s clothing? And are the foster parents required to keep the receipts for their expenditures?

 A: The clothing allowance payment is solely at the discretion of the counties, so there is no designated clothing amount within the basic foster care monthly rate that the Resource Family receives. Foster parents are not required to keep receipts for clothing purchased.

 Citation: Guidance from California Department of Social Services, Foster Care Audits & Rates Branch