Category Archives: Placement & Housing

Homeless Emergency Aid Program

Q: I have heard that the recently passed state budget included $500 million in funding for homelessness and that $25 million is set aside for homeless youth. How can I find out how much is available to my community and how to apply for it?

A: Yes, on June 27, 2018, Governor Brown signed SB 850 which established the Homeless Emergency Aid Program. The program is administered by the Homeless Coordinating and Financing Council (HCFC) within the California Business, Consumer Services, and Housing Agency. According to the HCFC website, a NOFA will be issued in late summer providing local jurisdictions with information about how to access the funding. To make sure that you stay informed about the issuance of the NOFA, sign up for their informational notices HERE.

SB 850 requires no less than five percent of the funding is required to be used to “establish or expand services meeting the needs of homeless youth or youth at risk of homelessness.” The total amount of funding available is $500 million, which means an estimated $25 million will be dedicated to homeless youth.  John Burton Advocates for Youth will be providing information about the five-percent requirement as it becomes available. Until then, we recommend you take the following steps:

  • Step 1: Make contact with your local Continuum of Care: You may already know about this group and be involved in their work. If not, the first step is identifying what entity coordinates your Continuum of Care. Most Continuums of Care meet on a monthly basis. Find out when yours meets, go to the next meeting, and raise the topic of the Homeless Emergency Aid Program and the 5% homeless youth requirement. Find the contact here.
  • Step 2: Find out how many youth were homeless in your 2017 Point in Time Count, the growth over time, and how many were unsheltered. This will be important information to make the case that funding is needed. Find that figure here.
  • Step 3: Consider partnering with organizations that are active in your Continuum of Care, if you are not currently a grantee. For example, there may be a housing provider that receives HUD funding to operate a Rapid Rehousing model for adults. Consider applying for funding from the Homeless Emergency Aid Program to subcontract with them to provide Rapid Rehousing services to for homeless youth.
  • Step 4: Find out how much money your administrative entity has for homeless youth. Again, the requirement is that the administrative entity use no less than 5% on homeless youth. Advocate for more if possible. Encourage your administrative entity to make a large request, which will increase the amount of the homeless youth set-aside. The exact amount of funding will be based on how many administrative entities apply, but you can find an estimate here.
  • Step 5: Watch for the NOFA to be issued by HCFC by the end of the summer. SB 850 requires applications to be submitted by December 31, 2018, but there is nothing preventing them from being required earlier. You can make sure not to miss the NOFA release by signing up for the HCFC listserv.
  • Step 6: Check to see how much was issued and whether your jurisdiction can apply again. If allowable, be ready to submit another application.
  • Step 7: Stay on top of this process and establish accountability mechanisms to ensure that 5% of the Homeless Emergency Aid Program is going to homeless youth. The law requires it, but the accountability mechanism in SB 850 is not strong. To ensure these funds serve homeless youth will require local advocates playing an active role.

For more information about the  Homeless Emergency Aid Program, follow this LINK.

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

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

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

Minimum Income for Filing Taxes

Q: I am working with youth to ensure they file their income taxes before the April 17 tax filing deadline. What is the minimum income level after which an individual is required to file taxes?

A: Assuming the youth is single, those who make $10,400 and over are required to file a tax return for 2017. However, even if they do not meet the minimum required income, youth should consider filing taxes if they can get money back.  According to Efile.com, an individual can get money back for the following reasons:

  • If they had taxes withheld from their pay, they must file a tax return to receive a tax refund.
  • If they qualify, they must file a return to receive the refundable Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • If they are claiming education credits, they must file to be refunded the American Opportunity Credit.
  • If they have a qualifying child but owe no tax, they can file to be refunded the Additional Child Tax Credit.
  • If they qualify, they must file to claim the refundable Health Coverage Tax Credit.
  • If they overpaid estimated tax or applied a prior year overpayment to this year, they must file to receive the refund.

For assistance with filing taxes, please visit a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site near you.  You can find a site near you by visiting www.CalEITC4Me.org and using the Free Tax Prep Finder Tool, or call the IRS at 1-800-906-9887.

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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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Infant supplement rate for parenting youth in STRTPs

Q: Should a parenting youth placed in a Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program (STRTP) receive the infant supplement rate of $900 (non-group home rate) or $1,379 (group home rate)?

A: The infant supplement amount for a foster youth who is a custodial parent, residing in either a group home or STRTP placement is $1,379 per month. For a foster youth who is a custodial parent placed in a Foster Family Home, Foster Family Agency, Whole Foster Family Home, THP+FC, or a Supervised Independent Living Placement, the infant supplement amount is $900.

Citation:

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When to use SILP Readiness Assessment

Q: I understand there is now a standardized readiness assessment available for approving Supervised Independent Living Placements (SILPs). Is this tool intended to be used for new SILPs only, or should it also be used when a non-minor dependent’s SILP is changing?

A: It should also be used when a non-minor dependent (NMD)’s Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) is changing. The new SILP readiness assessment tool (SOC 157C) was developed in order to standardize how NMDs are being assessed for SILPs and for continuity for NMDs who move between counties. The California Department of Social Services greatly encourages counties to utilize this standardized assessment tool when a NMD:

  • Requests to live in a SILP for the first time;
  • Has been living in a supported SILP but may presently be ready for a more independent SILP;
  • Requests a new SILP and their circumstances have changed or;
  • Was not deemed ready for a SILP in the past but has since accomplished TILP goals designed to assist the NMD with SILP readiness.

When an NMD is moving from one SILP placement to another, the caseworker is encouraged to at least use section one of the tool to ensure the NMD has adequate income to meet their expenses for the new living arrangement.

Citation: All County Information Notice I-42-17 (September 15, 2017)

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