Category Archives: Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) & Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)

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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When adoptive parent or guardian stops supporting youth but still receives payments: what must the county do?

Q: If a youth tries to re-enter foster care because their adoptive parent or guardian no longer provides them support, but the parent or guardian is still receiving Kin-GAP or AAP payments on the youth’s behalf, is the county required to take any sort of action to address the lack of support?

A: Yes. In scenarios where a youth alleges that the adoptive parent or guardian is no longer providing support, but the adoptive parent or guardian is still receiving payments on the youth’s behalf, the county must initiate certain activities, which vary slightly depending on whether the youth is in a guardianship or an adoption.

As you’ve alluded to, existing law requires that youth participating in the extended Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) or Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) can only re-enter extended foster care if their guardian or adoptive parent is no longer receiving aid payments on their behalf.

All County Letter 19-31 indicates that when a youth in guardianship alleges that the guardian is no longer providing support, but the guardian is still receiving payments, the social worker/probation officer must conduct a timely assessment. For adopted youth, if no safety issues are identified, the worker is required to make an effort to assist the young adult and adoptive parent to remain an intact family unit. In both scenarios, the ACL characterizes these efforts as consisting of speaking with the guardian or adoptive parent regarding the allegations of lack of support, and an in-depth conversation with the youth and guardian or adoptive parent to better understand the dynamics of the home.

For adopted youth, the county is also required to contact the responsible public agency (County Post-Adoption Services or the California Department of Social Services Regional Office for the administration of the AAP-eligible youth’s case), to report the youth’s allegations of lack of support.

Ultimately, the county can take measures to suspend or terminate payments, and to initiate re-entry proceedings, if certain conditions are met. For more information about these processes, and for details about how counties should proceed for youth in guardianships versus adopted youth, read the ACL.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter 1931 (2019). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2019/19-31_ES.pdf?ver=2019-04-18-104859-023

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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

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

Mobile-friendly FAFSA

Q: Is it possible for me to fill out the FAFSA on my smartphone or do I need to have access to a computer?

A: Yes, it is now possible for you to fill out the FAFSA easily on your phone. The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) launched a mobile-friendly version of the FAFSA last month at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The DOE plans to roll out a beta version of a student aid mobile app soon that would let financial aid recipients complete the FAFSA application as well as make loan payments and complete other financial aid tasks. A complete version of the mobile app is set to launch October 1, 2018 in time for the beginning of the 2019-20 federal student aid cycle. According to the DOE, the October release will include even more functions for the mobile app — it will be linked to the IRS data retrieval tool, it will allow for comparisons of aid packages for different schools and applicants will be able to transfer information to state aid applications.

Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Non-RFA Approved Homes

Q: I am a grandmother who is caring for her two grandchildren. My Resource Family Approval (RFA) has not been approved yet. Can I still participate in the Emergency Child Care Bridge Program?

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

Can Bridge funding be used on non-approved Resource Family Approval (RFA) homes?

Yes, families that have a child placed with them in an emergency or for a compelling reason, are eligible to receive a time-limited monthly payment or voucher for child care and a child care navigator subject to county eligibility requirements. See ACL 17-109.

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. I8-80, Emergency Child Care Bridge Program for Foster Children, Question 13 (June 14, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-80.pdf

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

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

Selecting a Housing Plan on FAFSA

Q: I am completing the FAFSA and on the page where I indicate which schools I want my information sent to, it asks me to indicate if I will be living on-campus, off-campus or with parents. I am currently in foster care and have lived with my aunt since I entered the system, and I plan to continue living with her while I go to community college. Which option do I select?

A: You would select “off-campus.” Students should not select “With Parent” as their housing plan if they plan to live with a foster parent, relative caregiver, or legal guardian. Instead, select “Off-Campus.” This is crucial for getting all the money that is available to you to pay for your living expenses. The option you select has an impact on how much money you receive as the “cost of attendance” is considered more when living off-campus than when living with a parent. For more tips on how to complete the FAFSA, check out the Financial Aid Guide for California Foster Youth.

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Youth in guardianship with open dependency case: what happens at 18?

Q: I’m working with a 17-year-old youth who is in a guardianship, but there is still an open dependency case. What happens when she turns 18? Can she opt to move into a placement like a SILP or THP+FC for non-minor dependents? Or must she remain in the home of her guardian?

A: Because there is still an open dependency case, this youth is technically in foster care, meaning when she turns 18 she can access the placement types that other non-minor dependents (NMDs) can access, assuming she meets the eligibility criteria for extended foster care.

For youth in guardianships with open dependency cases, the guardianship terminates by operation of law at age 18. The home of the guardian can still be a foster care placement for the NMD if the guardian is willing and the NMD chooses to remain in the home, however the NMD can also choose to reside in a different placement.

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