Category Archives: foster care benefits

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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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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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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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

Married Youth’s Eligibility for Extended Foster Care

Q: I am nonminor dependent (NMD) who recently got married. Am I eligible to still participate in extended foster care?

A. Yes, you are eligible to enter, re-enter, and remain in Extended Foster Care. This was recently addressed the All County Letter 18-101 disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

“In a recent published decision, In re H.C. (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 1261, the Fourth District
Court of Appeals found that marriage does not exclude a youth from EFC eligibility in either
federal law or California statute. This ruling has mandatory authority over lower courts in
California.

As a result…if otherwise eligible, NMDs may now enter, re-enter or remain in EFC if they are married or get married. Married youth in EFC shall be subject to the same Title IV-E supervision requirements as any other NMD and they are eligible for the same placement options, if available and appropriate.”

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

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

Duration of the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program

Q: I understand that under the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program, eligible families can receive six months of child care vouchers which can be extended up to 12 months. Do counties have the discretion to limit the duration to under six months? 

A: No, counties do not have the discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program. This was addressed in the All County Letter 18-80E disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

Do counties have the discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program’s child care voucher or payment to under six months?

Pursuant to WIC section 11461.6(f) counties do not have discretion to limit the duration of the Bridge Program’s child care voucher or payment to under six months. Every qualifying child receiving the voucher payment is eligible to continue receiving the voucher for up to six months as long as they qualify or until funds are no longer available. A Bridge Program voucher can be
less than six months if a long-term child care arrangement is made or the dependency is dismissed and the child exits from foster care.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. I8-80E, Errata to the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children, Question 7 (August 24, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-80.pdf

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