Placement with relative that is not a legal resident

Q: With all that I am reading about immigration federally, I am worried about this ability of children to be placed with relatives. What happens for children who need to be placed with a relative who is not a legal resident? Is this allowed?

A: Yes. When a court orders removal of a child, the child may be placed with a non-custodial parent or relative regardless of the immigration status of the parent or relative.

Citation: California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 361.2(e)

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Documentation of unearned income for youth in THP+FC applying for CalFresh

Q: I’m a non-minor dependent, and I recently went to apply for food stamps. As instructed by my case manager for the THP+FC program I live in, I put down $500 for my unearned monthly income because that is what the program provides to me monthly.

However, the eligibility worker was under the impression that the entire foster care payment the THP+FC provider receives from the county ($3,007) should be put down as my unearned income. What should I do?

A: You are correct. Your unearned income is the $500 you receive directly from the THP+FC program. The best thing to do is to bring a printed copy of the CalFresh Program Request for Policy/Regulation Interpretation (CF24) posted by the California Department of Social Services’ CalFresh Policy Unit on June 28, 2016, that describes how to count unearned income for youth participating in THP+FC.

As described in the CF24 and in a previous Q of the W blog post, “The actual amount of THP monies made available to the youth whether spent, held or put into personal savings shall be considered unearned income in the month received for the CalFresh budget whether disbursed as part of THP+FC or THP-Plus programs.”

Additionally, I would suggest bringing a letter on letterhead from your THP+FC program stating how much your monthly stipend, is as you will likely be asked for verification of the amount.

Citation: CalFresh Program Request for Policy/Regulation Interpretation (June 28, 2016)

 

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BOG Fee Waiver Disqualification from failure to maintain SAP

Q: I’m working with a foster youth in community college who is receiving the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver. His Grade Point Average has been below a 2.0 for two consecutive semesters now. I understand that the BOG Fee Waiver now has Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements. Will this youth lose his fee waiver?

A: No, if he is a foster youth, he will not lose his BOG Fee Waiver for failure to maintain Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP). While there is a requirement that BOG Fee Waiver recipients must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA and greater than a 50% Completion Rate, current and former foster youth under age 25 are exempt from BOG Fee Waiver Disqualification.

Citation: Senate Bill 1456 (2012); Board of Governors Fee Waiver Program and Special Programs Manual (2015)

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Pell Grant time limits

Q: I’ve been receiving the Pell Grant for six years – I spent several years attending community college part-time, then transferred to a 4-year where I have one year left before getting my degree.
 
I was told that a student can only receive the Pell Grant for 6 years / 12 semesters. Does this mean I cannot receive the Pell for my 7th year in college?

A: No, this does not mean you will lose your Pell Grant in your 7th year. A student can receive the Pell Grant for 6 full-time-equivalent years (12 full-time-equivalent semesters) as an undergraduate. Since you were not attending college full-time for each of your 6 years, you should still be eligible for some Pell in your 7th year.

For example, if you attended half-time (6 units each semester) for your first 2 years of college, you would have used only 1 full-time-equivalent year of Pell during those 2 years. That would leave you with 1 more full-time-equivalent year of eligibility—enough for your final 7th year.

How can you know for sure how much Pell eligibility you have left?

  • When you file a FAFSA, you receive a Student Aid Report that will give you a general idea of how many of your 6 full-time-equivalent years of eligibility you have already used.
  • For more specific information, you can log in to the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) at https://www.nslds.ed.gov/nslds/nslds_SA/ (click on “Financial Aid Review” and set up an account, if you haven’t already). It will show you the percentage of Pell eligibility that you have already used. The cut-off point is 600% (that is equivalent to 6 full-time-equivalent years). Example:  If it shows you have used 400% of your Pell eligibility, you would have 200% (or 2 full-time equivalent years) left.

For the most up-to-date information, you can contact your college’s financial aid office.

Citation: Federal Student Aid Handbook (2016-2017)

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Transgender youth – placement rights

Q: I’m working with a transgender young person who identifies as female, but has been placed in a group home for male youth. Does she have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity?

A: Yes, she does have the right to be placed in a group home according to her gender identity. Senate Bill 731 (2015) amended Welfare and Institutions Code to provide transgender children the right to be placed in out-of-home care according to their gender identity, regardless of the gender or sex listed in the court or child welfare records.

What also may be helpful to review, is a question and answer document developed by a group of organizations which provides helpful information and resources for California child welfare professionals to promote the safety, permanency, and well-being of transgender and gender non-conforming children in foster care.

Citation:

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Expanded exemptions for student restrictions on CalFresh eligibility

 Q: I’m participating in extended foster care and attending college full-time. I heard that youth in extended foster care are now exempt from the food stamp eligibility restrictions on college students. However when I went to apply for CalFresh, the eligibility worker said I did not qualify. What can I do?

A: You are correct. College students participating in Extended Foster Care are exempt from the CalFresh eligibility restrictions on college students.

College students who do not qualify for an exemption must work at least 20 hours per week to be eligible to participate in CalFresh. However as of February 14, 2017, the student eligibility exemptions were expanded as described in All County Letter 17-05. As a college student participating in extended foster care,  you are exempt from these work requirements.

These expanded exemptions are still very new, and it is likely that the eligibility worker you spoke with is not aware of these new exemptions. The best thing to do is to bring a printed copy of All County Letter 17-05 when you go to meet with the eligibility worker.

Citation: All County Letter 17-05 (February 14, 2017)

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Community colleges offering housing

Q: Which community colleges offer housing? I work with transition-aged foster youth who are often interested in attending community college, but struggle to identify housing nearby. Is there a statewide list of community colleges that offer housing?

A: Yes. Eleven of the 113 community colleges provide dorms or other housing assistance. The California Community College Chancellor’s Office maintains a list of community colleges that provide dorms or other housing assistance here: http://www.cccco.edu/CommunityColleges/CollegeHousing.aspx

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Has CCR changed AB 12 eligibility?

Q: I am a CASA with a youth who is facing some decisions regarding her permanency plan. I understand there have been recent changes related to Continuum of Care Reform, impacting foster care placement. My question is, has CCR changed AB 12 eligibility at all — particularly in regards to the age of establishing guardianship and eligibility for extended Kin-GAP payments?

A: No. AB 12 eligibility has not changed as a result of Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). AB 12 eligibility, including eligibility for Extended Foster Care, extended Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) payments, and extended Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP) payments remains as follows:

Extended Foster Care:

There are four basic eligibility requirements for a youth to continue to receive support after the age of 18. The youth must:

  • have an order for foster care placement on his/her 18th birthday;[i]
  • continue under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court as a dependent, under transitional jurisdiction, or as a ward;[ii]
  • meet one of the five participation conditions*;[iii] and
  • agree to live in a supervised placement that is licensed or approved.[iv]

The youth must also sign a mutual agreement (although not a condition of payment)[v], meet with his/her social worker or probation officer monthly[vi], and participate in six-month court review hearings.[vii]

Extended Kin-GAP:

  • Youth, regardless of age of entry into Kin-GAP, may continue to receive Kin-GAP up until age 21 if he or she has a physical or mental disability that warrants continuing assistance beyond age 18 and up until 21.[viii]
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated Kin-GAP payment after they turn 16 are eligible for extended Kin-GAP benefits to age 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participation conditions* and signs a mutual agreement.[ix]
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated Kin-GAP payment before they turn 16 are eligible for extended Kin-GAP beyond age 18 if they have not yet graduated high school, but are expected to complete high school or an equivalent program before they turn 19. In this case, they can continue to receive Kin-GAP until they graduate or turn 19, whichever happens first.[x] There is one exception to this rule: Youth in a guardianship with a non-related extended family member (see next bullet).
  • Regardless of the age of entry into Kin-GAP, youth in a guardianship with a non-related extended family member (NREFM) are eligible for extended AFDC-FC benefits as a non-related guardian when they turn 18 and up until age 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participation conditions* and signs a mutual agreement.[xi]

Extended AAP:

  • A youth, regardless of age of entry into the Adoptions Assistance Program (AAP), may continue to receive AAP up until age 21 if he or she has a physical or mental disability that warrants continuing assistance beyond age 18 and up until 21.
  • Youth who do not have a physical or mental disability and who began to receive the negotiated AAP payment before turning 16 will receive AAP until age 18.
  • Youth who began to receive the negotiated AAP payment after turning 16 may be eligible for extended AAP benefits beyond age 18, and up until 21, as long as the youth meets one of the participations conditions*. There is no mutual agreement requirement for youth to receive AAP after age 18. [xii]

*The “five participation conditions” referenced above are as follows:

1) The nonminor is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential.

2) The nonminor is enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education.

3) The nonminor is participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to employment.

4) The nonminor is employed for at least 80 hours per month.

5) The nonminor is incapable of doing any of the activities described above due to a medical condition.[xiii]

Citations:

[i] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11400(v)

[ii] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11400(v)

[iii] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11403(b)

[iv] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11402

[v] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 303(d), 11400(u); All County Letter 11‐61

[vi] 42 U.S.C. § 622(b)(17); ACYF-CB-PI-10-11 (p. 11)

[vii] Welf. & Inst. Code §366.3(m)

[viii] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11363(c)(2), 11386(g)(2)

[ix] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11363(d), 11386(h); All County Letter 11‐86; Senate Bill §1013

[x] Welf. & Inst. Code § 11363(c)(3), 11386(g)(3); All County Letter 11‐15; All County Letter 11‐86

[xi] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 11391(c), 11405(e)(2)

[xii] Welf. & Inst. Code §§ 16120(d); 16123

[xiii] Welf. & Inst. § 11403(b)

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Financial aid-eligible majors

Q: I’m a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), helping my youth fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and Chafee application, and want to make sure he selects a major that is financial aid-eligible. I don’t see this information on the FAFSA website anywhere. Where can I find this?

A: You are correct, it is not listed on FAFSA website. There are three ways a student can learn whether a major is financial aid-eligible.

  1. Before applying, a student can look on the college website where they are planning on attending. Financial aid-eligible majors should be located on college websites or district websites. For example, for the Peralta Community Colleges, it is located here: http://web.peralta.edu/financial-aid/sample-page/financial-aid-approved-academic-programs/.
  1. When the student applies for community college through CCCapply and selects his/her major, next to the major it will state ‘financial aid eligible’ or ‘financial aid ineligible’.
  1. After the college has received the student’s financial aid package, the college will contact the student to let them know that their major is financial aid-eligible, or financial aid-ineligible.
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Resource Family Approval Toolkit for Caregivers

Q: I am a relative caregiver of two siblings in foster care. There seem to be a lot of new changes in place this year that may impact us. What do I need to know about the Resource Family Approval process? Where can I go for information about this?

A: Yes, there are many changes taking effect this year, as part of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR).  Resource Family Approval (RFA), which took effect January 1, 2017 creates one uniform approval process for all caregivers in the foster care system, relative and non-relative. RFA applies to all new caregivers, and those who have already been approved and are currently caring for a foster child must be reapproved by December 31, 2019.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights, the Step Up Coalition and a wide range of state and local partners developed a toolkit to help walk caregivers through the newly implemented RFA process. It includes sample forms and other resources to guide you through the approval process, and a narrative explaining RFA step by step. You can download the toolkit at: http://kids-alliance.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/StepUp_RFAToolkit_V1_Feb2017_print_download.pdf

While the toolkit is intended to provide caregivers access to easy-to-understand information, it is not meant to be comprehensive. Each county in California may have its own supplemental forms and requirements, and so you should also consult with your social worker and local advocacy organizations for additional guidance.

The California Department of Social Services has also released All County Letter (ACL) 17-16, which provides county child welfare, probation departments and other interested stakeholders with information on the conversion process of all currently licensed foster family homes, approved relatives and Non-Relative Extended Family Members for implementation of RFA.

The ACL provides instructions on which aspects of RFA are to be completed for existing caregivers and what to include in the new Resource Family file, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions document.

Citation: Resource Family Approval Guide (Step Up Coalition); All County Letter 17-16 (February 14, 2017)

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