Category Archives: Extended Foster Care

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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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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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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Updated AB 12 Re-Entry Contact List

Q: I was previously in foster care, then exited last year when I was 18. I would like to re-enter extended foster care but I don’t have my former social worker’s contact information and I don’t know who to contact at the county. Who do I contact?

A: You should use this AB 12 re-entry contact list, which was just updated in May 2019: https://www.jbaforyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/CWDA-AB-12-Re-Entry-Contact-list-05-20-19.pdf. Scroll down to find your county and there will be a phone number and email address to contact.

To re-enter extended foster care, you must be under age 21, and sign a voluntary re-entry agreement (SOC 163), which provides the county with the authority for placement for 180 days. Once this is signed, foster care benefits begin the date the agreement is signed or the date that you are placed in a qualified placement, whichever is later. You must agree to satisfy one of the five participation conditions of extended foster care – which is indicated by your signing the SOC 163 – then continue to satisfy that requirement pending completion of the Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) that documents your continuing participation.

For more information on extended foster care, visit the California Fostering Connections to Success Act section of the JBAY website: http://www.jbaforyouth.org/ca-fostering-connections/.

Citations:

Welfare & Institutions Code section 388(e)

California Department of Social Services, All County Letter 12-12 (March 23, 2012)

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When Does Turning 26 Disqualify a Student from a Chafee Grant?

Q: I’m working with a college student, formerly in foster care who will be 26 in October. I understand the upper age limit for the Chafee Grant was extended to 26. Will this student be eligible to receive a Chafee for the 2019-20 academic year, or will turning 26 in the fall disqualify her?

A: She will still be eligible as long as she does not turn 26 by July 1, 2019, given she meets all other eligibility criteria. To qualify for the Chafee Education and Training Voucher, a student must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a current or former foster youth who was a ward of the court, living in foster care, for at least one day between the ages of 16 and 18.*
  • Have not reached their 26th birthday as of July 1st of the award year.
  • Have not participated in the program for more than five years (whether or not consecutive)

* If the student is/was in Kin-GAP, a non-related legal guardianship, or were adopted, they are eligible only if they were a dependent or ward of the court, living in foster care, for at least day between the ages of 16 and 18.

If she has not already done so, the student should submit a Chafee application as soon as possible. Although there is no deadline, the earlier she applies, the higher she is prioritized for funds. (Note she must also submit a FAFSA if she has not already). If she already submitted a Chafee application for previous years, she does not need to resubmit it.

Citation:

Assembly Bill 1811 (Committee on Budget, Human Services Omnibus, 2018) http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB1811&search_keywords=chafee

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