Category Archives: Extended Foster Care

Chafee Grant Application Deadline

Q: I submitted my FAFSA a few months ago and my college has already packaged my financial aid. I didn’t realize that I could qualify for a Chafee grant and so didn’t apply. Is it too late for me to apply since college has already started?

A: It is not too late. There is no deadline for submitting a Chafee grant application and the application can be submitted any time during the school year. Chafee funds of up to $5000 are available to students enrolled at least half time who were in foster care between the ages of 16 and 18. In order to qualify you must submit both a FAFSA (or California Dream Act Application) and a separate Chafee application. Although funds are distributed at the beginning of the school year, some students do not enroll and these funds are returned and continue to be distributed throughout the year as long as there are funds available.

Even if you do not get awarded funds this year, applying now will make it more likely that you will qualify next year, so the sooner you can submit your application the better.

Note that currently you must not have reached your 22nd birthday as of July 1st of the award year, however this age limit is in the process of being increased to age 26.

Foster Youth Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights-Storing Birth Control Pills

Q: I am with an Foster Family Agency. What guidance should I give Resource Families about a foster youth’s right to obtain and use contraception, specifically any requirements about storing birth control pills.

A: First, you should inform Resource Families that youth and young adults in foster care have the right to consent to or decline medical care (without need for consent from a parent, caregiver, guardian, social worker, probation officer, court, or authorized representative) for:

  1. The prevention or treatment of pregnancy, including contraception, at any age (except sterilization).
  2. An abortion, at any age.
  3. Diagnosis and treatment of sexual assault, at any age.
  4. The prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of STIs, at age 12 or older.

This is one of ten reproductive and sexual health rights of foster youth outlined in All County Letter 16-81  CDSS provides the following guidance about storing prescriptive contraception medicine, such as birth control pills:

“Resource families are not required to centrally store prescription medications. For youth under the age of 18, the resource family shall use the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard (RPPS) to determine whether it is appropriate for the youth to have access to medications for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(c)(2); RFA Written Directives (WD), § 11-03(c)(2)). For youth who are 18 or older, the resource family shall permit the youth to access medications necessary for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(d)(2); RFA WD, § 11-03(d)(2)).”

Source: All County Letter 16-81, CCL’s: “Healthy Sexual Development Resource Guide for Children’s Residential Facilities and Resource Families

Medi-Cal for Former Foster Youth in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Q: I understand that foster youth who are part of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program are eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal. What about once they exit their URM placement as non-minors? Are they eligible for Medi-Cal up to age 26 in the same way that former foster youth are in our county child welfare systems?

A: Yes, youth who meet Former Foster Youth (FFY) Program eligibility requirements are eligible to continue receiving full-scope Medi-Cal under the FFY Program. California’s FFY Program eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • In foster care in any state on 18th birthday
  • Currently reside in California
  • Younger than 26

According to recently issued guidance from the California Department of Social Services, “When the County Welfare Department learns that a FFY eligible Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) youth has exited their URM placement (at age 18 or older), the County Welfare Department shall seamlessly transition the youth into the Medi-Cal program for FFY and assign the 4M aid code even if the youth’s whereabouts are unknown.”

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Welfare Directors Letter 18-14. All County Information Notice I-38-18 (July 3, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACIN/2018/I-38_18.pdf

For previous guidance issued by the state to counties regarding FFY eligibility for Medi-Cal, visit Children Now’s webpage: http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/resources

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.

Sharing Bedrooms by Transgender Youth

Q: What things should a caregiver in a licensed facility, licensed or certified home, or resource family consider when assessing the sharing of bedrooms by transgender youth and NMDs placed in their facility or home?

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

“The caregiver must consider the health, safety and compatibility of all children sharing a bedroom, as specified in applicable regulations, written directives, or interim licensing standards. When considering compatibility, a caregiver shall consult with children in their care, in an age and developmentally appropriate manner, regarding the child’s sexual orientation and gender identity and what information the child wishes to disclose and to whom. Caregivers shall not disclose information about the child’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity against the child’s wishes, unless compelled to do so by law or court order. Caregivers should consult with the social workers for each of the children placed with them to ensure they have adequate information regarding all of the children in their care, and consult with each child individually in an age appropriate manner to determine their strengths, needs and preferences.” 

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Information No. I-30-18, Attachment: SB 731 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), Question 4 (May 17, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACIN/2018/I-30_18.pdf

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

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.