Category Archives: foster care benefits

Applying to Participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

Q: I am from one of the 16 counties that did not participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children for Fiscal Year 2017-18. I’d like my county to participate for FY 2018-19. What is the process and how much could my county receive if it does?

A: Counties that intend to participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program (Bridge Program) starting July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019 must complete and submit a plan to the Child Care Programs Bureau by July 20, 2018. The plan template is included as an attachment to recently issued All County Letter 18-73.

The minimum funding allocations for counties that opt into the program are also included as an attachment to ACL 18-73. The child care navigator and training allocations were calculated by determining each county’s percentage of eligible caseload to the statewide total eligible caseload. The voucher allocation was calculated utilizing the eligible caseload multiplied by the Regional Market Rate for the appropriate category to develop each county’s percentage of the total statewide allocation.

After approval of submitted plans, the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) will distribute any unallocated Bridge Program funds among participating counties. According to CDSS, final allocations for FY 2018-19 will be included in forthcoming County Fiscal Letters along with claiming instructions.

What is the Bridge Program?

The goals of the Bridge Program are to increase the number of foster children successfully placed in home-based family care settings, increase placement stability, increase the capacity of child care programs to meet the needs of foster children, and maximize funding to support the child care needs of eligible families.

Families eligible for the Bridge Program are resource families and families that have a child placed with them in an emergency or for a compelling reason; licensed foster family homes or certified family homes; approved homes of relatives or non-relative extended family members; and parents under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court, including but not limited to non-minor dependent parents.

In counties that opt into the Bridge Program, it provides eligible families with a time-limited child care voucher or payment to help pay for child care costs for children birth through age 12, children with exceptional needs, and severely disabled children up to age 21. It also provides a child care navigator to assist with finding a child care provider, securing a subsidized child care placement if eligible, completing child care program applications, and developing a plan for long-term child care appropriate to the child’s age and needs.

Citation:

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 18-73 (June 14, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-73.pdf?ver=2018-06-20-143808-703

California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 17-109 (October 27, 2017). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2017/17-109.pdf?ver=2017-10-30-132310-620

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.

Waiving Court Attendance

Q: Recently I heard a co-worker state that a dependency attorney can waive the child having to appear in court for their hearing. I thought if a child over 10 wanted to attend their court hearing, the attorney could not waive their appearance.

Please let me know if the attorney can waive the child’s appearance, especially when the child knows they have the right to be at their court hearing and they want to attend.

A:  All minors and nonminors in foster care have the right to attend their court hearing and speak to the judge. The important right is included in the foster care bill of rights. To waiver their appearance in court, an attorney must secure their consent prior to the court hearing.

If a child is age 10 or older and does not attend their court hearing, the court is required to determine whether the minor or nonminor was properly notified of his or her right to attend the hearing and inquire whether the minor was given an opportunity to attend. If the court finds that was not the case, the court hearing is continued for the period of time, “necessary to provide notice and secure the presence of the child.”

Source: WIC 16001.9. & WIC 349(d)

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

Reporting Household Size on the FAFSA

Q: I am working with a high school senior to complete the FAFSA and I’m not sure what number she should to answer the question “Your number of family members in 2018-2019 (household size).” Does she include her foster parents? Her siblings? Her biological parents?

A: If she was in foster care at any point after the age of 13, is currently in legal guardianship, or was in guardianship upon turning 18, she qualifies as an “independent student,” which means she does not have to report her parental income. This also means that her household size would include only her, and if applicable, a spouse and any children that she supports. For a single student with no children, the household size reported would be “1.” It does NOT include birth parents, foster parents, siblings, other relatives or others who she lives with.

Clothing allowance & SCI under CCR

Q: I understand that foster care rates have changed as of January 1, 2017 as a result of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). What about the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment? Do these still exist under CCR?

A: Yes, the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment (SCI) still exist under Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). On top of the foster care rates which did change as of January 1, 2017 (see 11/9/17 Q of the W to learn more), counties may continue to pay an SCI and clothing allowance.

As stated in All County Letter 16-79, families paid at a higher rate than the basic level rate (e.g. any additional SCI) may continue receiving those rates at county discretion. Counties will continue to provide written guidelines for their discretionary continuation of SCI rates and clothing allowances, and apply these guidelines equitably to determine a family’s eligibility for SCI rates or clothing allowances.

Citation: All County Letter 16-79 (September 22, 2016)

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New Foster Care Rates go into Effect January 1, 2017

Q: I am a relative caregiver. I understand that foster care rates changed effective January 1, 2017. Who did they change for, and when will I see this change in the monthly check I receive? If I don’t see an increase, who should I contact about it?

A: You are correct. Foster care rates did change for relative caregivers in addition to several other types of placement settings. The passage of Assembly Bill 403 necessitated the implementation of a new rate setting system to support the goals of California’s Continuum of Care Reform effort. This new rate structure will be implemented in two phases. The first phase, which took effect January 1, 2017, made changes to the rates for Home-Based Family Care (HBFC) and Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs).

The rates changes are outlined below. Because foster care is paid in arrears, care providers can expect to receive the payment showing the increased amount for care provided for January 2017, no later than February 15, 2017. If you do not see the correct amount, you should contact the California Department of Social Services’ Foster Care Audits & Rates Bureau at fosterca@dss.ca.gov.

Effective January 1, 2017, a basic level rate of $889 will be issued for all new placements of a child/youth in one of the following settings:

  • Resource Families
  • County foster family homes
  • Relatives (including both Federal and non-Federal relative cases and regardless of participation in the Approved Relative Caregiver Program)
  • Nonrelative Extended Family Members
  • Non-Minor Dependents in Supervised Independent Living Placements

Foster Family Agency (FFA) Rates

Effective January 1, 2017, all new and existing FFA Resource Families and certified families will be paid according to a rate structure that provides one flat rate for administration and incorporates the new components of Resource Family Approval (RFA) and Service & Supports (S&S).FFAs will be paid the total rate in the chart below:

Age 0-4 508 9-11 12-14 15-21
FFA Certified Family $896 $954 $994 $1,032 $1,072
Social Worker $340 $340 $340 $340 $340
S&S $156 $156 $156 $156 $156
RFA $48 $48 $48 $48 $48
Administration $672 $672 $672 $672 $672
Rate $2,112 $2,170 $2,210 $2,248 $2,288

Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs) and Group Homes

Effective January 1, 2017, the new STRTP rate is $12,036. For all out-of-state group home placements, the rate the county pays is based on the out-of-state group homes rate; however, the rate paid cannot exceed the new STRTP rate.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP), Non-Related Legal Guardianship (NRLG) Program & Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)

New placements of a child or youth (on or after January 1, 2017) who is determined to be eligible to receive assistance under Kin-GAP, the NRLG Program, and AAP will receive the basic level rate of $889.

The rate structure for families receiving AAP on behalf of an eligible child whose AAP agreement was signed and whose adoption finalized prior to May 27, 2011 will not change. (Consistent with existing law, AAP agreements signed or for AAP eligible adoptions that were finalized on or after May 27, 2011, may be reassessed based on the changing needs of the child or the circumstances of the adoptive parent).

The rate structure for families currently receiving Kin-GAP assistance payments or for NRLG cases where guardianship was established prior to or after May 1, 2011 will not change. Effective January 1, 2017, the Kin-GAP basic rate may be increased upon reassessment of the circumstances of the caregiver and the needs of the child for cases in which the kinship guardianship was established and dependency was terminated on or after May 1, 2011.

Out-of-State Foster Family Home (FFH) Placements

Out-of-State FFH rates will remain the same. Counties will continue to pay the other state’s rate as they do now.

Wraparound Rate

Effective January 1, 2017, the Wraparound rate is $8,573.

Citation: All County Letter 16-79 (September 22, 2016)

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Non-minor dependent eligibility for CalFresh benefits

Q: Can a Non-Minor Dependent (NMD) in a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) receive CalFresh benefits (i.e. food stamps)?

A: Yes.  According to a FAQ document provided by CDSS, a NMD living in a SILP can apply for CalFresh. Eligibility for CalFresh is made on a case by case basis and considers the household composition, the individual’s income, earned and unearned, including the foster care grant, assets, the amount of rent and utility expenses, student status and other factors. The fact that the NMD is receiving a foster care payment does not, in and of itself, make the young adult ineligible. Eligibility will be based on the combined income and resources of the young adult and may include the income and resources of other persons living in the SILP who purchase and prepare meals with the NMD. If the NMD is employed, that income will factor into the eligibility decision. Additionally, if the NMD is attending college, eligibility considerations are different. NMDs living in a SILP should be encouraged to apply for CalFresh, as they may be eligible, but should be informed that a variety of factors go into the eligibility determination, so it is not guaranteed.

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Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Q: Are refugee children who are placed into the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program and receive refugee foster care services and benefits eligible for extended foster care?

A: AB 12/212 does not have any effect on children in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program.  AB 12 concerns foster care benefits in the AFDC-FC program.  AFDC-FC is paid for children who are in state foster care and is administered by the state.  URM is a federal program.  Children in the URM program do not receive AFDC-FC.

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