Medical Marijuana Card holder in THP+FC

Q: I’m a county worker with a young man who has a medical marijuana card, living in one of our THP+FC sites. His medical marijuana card says he has to smoke it within the confinements of his own home, however the provider does not want him smoking in the house. Is the provider required to permit him to smoke marijuana, and how do we handle the issue of his roommate (who does not hold a medical marijuana card) being exposed to or potentially accessing the marijuana?

A: In accordance with Title 22, California Code of Regulations, section 86087(f), the provider must forbid smoking at the THP+FC site. However, this does not prohibit the NMD from “taking” the marijuana by other means (e.g., orally). Accordingly, the county must comply with any protections to prevent those without a medical marijuana card from also consuming the substance. Such precautions may include, but are not limited to, keeping the marijuana in locked storage and having on hand only what will be used immediately.

Citation: Guidance from the California Department of Social Services, Title 22, California Code of Regulations, section 86087(f)

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Waiting Period for Re-Entry

No. It is not permitted to impose a waiting period of any duration before an otherwise eligible youth can re-enter foster care.

To re-enter, the youth must sign a voluntary re-entry agreement (SOC 163), which provides the county with the authority for placement for 180 days. Once this is signed, foster care benefits begin the date the agreement is signed or the date that the youth is placed in a qualified placement, whichever is later.

Policy guidance is clear that the youth does not have to be working or in school to re-enter foster care when the re-entry agreement is signed. Instead, they must agree to complete one of the participation conditions.  As ACL 12-12 states, “The youth’s signature on the SOC 163 will indicate their initial agreement to satisfy one of five participation conditions of EFC and will continue to satisfy that requirement pending completion of the TILP that documents their continuing participation.”

W&IC section 388(e); CDSS ACL 12-12

 

 

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Adopted at 16 but in need of services

Q: I was adopted when I was 16, but things didn’t really work out and I’ve been on my own since I turned 18. Now I’m 19 years-old and I work part-time, but it’s not enough to rent an apartment even with a roommate. I’m staying on my friend’s couch right now but I need to be out of here soon. My adoptive parents will not allow me to move back in. Am I eligible for AB 12 or for the THP-Plus program for former foster youth? 

A: Yes, you may be eligible to re-enter Extended Foster Care (EFC) through a process that was established by Assembly Bill 2454.

As of January 1, 2015, a youth who is over 18 years of age and, while a minor, was a dependent child or ward of the juvenile court when their guardianship or adoption was established, may seek re-entry to foster care if the legal guardian(s) or adoptive parent(s) received aid* after the youth attained 18 years of age, but no longer provide ongoing support to, and no longer receive aid on behalf of the non-minor between 18 and (up to) 21 years old.

Once the petition is filed and the court determines there is sufficient information to indicate that the non-minor meets one of the conditions for re-entry, a hearing will be scheduled within 15 judicial days.

The child welfare or probation department will prepare a court report that addresses how the non-minor will meet one of the five EFC participation criteria cited in ACL 11-69 and the appropriate placement setting for the non-minor. If re-entry into foster care is in the non-minor’s best interest, the court will assume dependency jurisdiction over the non-minor and order placement and care responsibility with the child welfare or probation agency.

As for your eligibility for the THP-Plus program for former foster youth, you are not eligible. Youth are eligible for the THP-Plus program who were in foster care or out-of-home placement on or after their 18th birthday and there is currently no mechanism to petition this, as there is for Extended Foster Care.

*Received aid under the state or federal Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP), as a Non-Related Legal Guardian whose guardianship was established in dependency court, or through the Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)

Citation: Assembly Bill 2454 (2014), All County Information Notice I-17-15 (October 20, 2015), All County Letter 11-69 (October 13, 2011)

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Criminal Convictions And Financial Aid

Q: If I have been convicted of a crime, does this impact whether I am eligible for financial aid?

A: For the most part, a student with a criminal conviction, including one who is on probation or parole, is eligible for federal and state financial aid, however there are some exceptions. If you are currently incarcerated, you are ineligible for a federal Pell grant. Your eligibility may also be suspended if you were convicted of a drug-related offense and the offense occurred while you were receiving federal student aid (grants, loans, or work-study). Note that the suspension can be lifted however by successfully completing an approved drug rehabilitation program or by passing two unannounced drug tests administered by an approved drug rehabilitation program.

If you are convicted of a drug-related offense after you submit the FAFSA, you might lose eligibility for federal student aid, and you might be liable for returning any financial aid you received during a period of ineligibility.

Finally, if you have been convicted of a forcible or non-forcible sexual offense, and you are subject to an involuntary civil commitment upon completion of a period of incarceration for that offense, you cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant.

For more information, CLICK HERE.

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Youth Savings Requirements for THP+FC Providers?

Q: I’m the former foster parent of a youth who is now in Extended Foster Care, living in a THP+FC program. She is exiting the program next month and wants to know how much money has been saved on her behalf that she can access when she exits. Can you tell me what the savings requirements are for non-minor dependents participating in THP+FC programs?

A: While many THP+FC programs do have savings plans for the youth placed with them, there is no requirement that a THP+FC provider have any particular savings plan. THP+FC providers are required to have policies on what their savings requirements are, but statutes and regulations are not prescriptive regarding any savings account or plan.

Citation: Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16522.1

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Financial aid for youth who were adopted

Q: I am working with a youth who has been adopted, and she is applying for financial aid for college. What age would this youth have to have been adopted after, to qualify for financial aid for foster youth?

A: For the Chafee Grant, which is the only form of financial aid dedicated solely for foster youth, a youth must have been in care on their 16th birthday. So if they were adopted after turning age 16, they would be eligible for the Chafee Grant.

For other forms of financial aid, such as the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, the terms are different. Eligibility for these forms of aid is linked to financial need. Foster youth (and youth in guardianships) are entitled to independent status on the FAFSA, which means they do not need to report parental income, but if their own income exceeds the income standards, they will not get aid.

In order to qualify for independent status, a youth needs to have been in care on their 13th birthday. So, if they were adopted prior to age 13, they will have to report their adoptive parents’ income, which may or may not qualify them for these forms of aid, depending on the amount of the adoptive parents’ income.

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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, 19 counties have opted into the THP-Plus extension. These counties are listed, along with additional information about the THP-Plus extension on the THP-Plus website at the following URL: http://thpplus.org/thp-plus-extension-for-youth-enrolled-in-school/

This fall, the John Burton Foundation will be releasing an implementation report on the THP-Plus extension informed by interviews with providers and county representatives in the counties that have opted into the extension.

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Counting Income for CalFresh in THP+FC

Q: I’m helping a Non-Minor Dependent (NMD) who is placed in our THP+FC program apply for CalFresh (food stamps). Does she include the monthly stipend our program gives her as unearned income, or the entire monthly foster care payment (THP+FC rate) we receive on her behalf?

A: When completing the unearned income portion of the application for CalFresh, a NMD in THP+FC should list the amount of money made available to the them directly, including any portion that is being put into a savings. They should not list the whole foster care payment the provider receives on the NMD’s behalf.

The California Department of Social Services clarified this in a recent CF24, stating “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 receive for the CalFresh budget.”

THP+FC providers who utilize the single or remote site housing model currently receive $3,090 per youth per month (host family rate is $2,459). Providers pass a portion of this foster care payment to the youth, but this amount ranges across the state from roughly $400 to $1,200.

Citation: MPP Section 63-502.14, CF24 revised 6/29/16

 

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Impact of cap on SIJS visas on foster youth

Q: I’ve heard that there is a cap on Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) visas for minors from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Mexico. What does this mean for youth from these countries who have entered the child welfare system and will soon turn 21?

A: Yes, there is a cap on the number if SIJS visas and according to the U.S. State Department, it has been reached for children from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico for FY2016. However, the Center for the Study of Social Policy makes the following recommendations for assisting youth who are impacted by the SIJS visa cap:

  • Continue to file for SIJS (Form I-360) on behalf of youth from these countries. The current cap on SIJS visas should not prohibit child welfare workers and practitioners, including attorneys and guardians ad litem, from moving forward and filing for SIJS.
  • Ensure the proper findings have been issued by the court and all forms (I-360 and I-485) have been filed. To be eligible for SIJS, the appropriate court findings and paperwork must be filed before the child or youth’s 21st birthday. It is imperative that practitioners and advocates continue to seek the necessary findings in court and file the appropriate forms to move forward with petitioning for lawful permanent residency once the cap is lifted in October 2016 (when the new fiscal year begins). It can be difficult to get a case in front of the court once a child or youth has exited the foster care system so having the appropriate findings issued during an open foster care case is imperative.
  • Ensure that SIJS eligible children and youth are granted Deferred Action while awaiting the availability of SIJS visas. The United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) has indicated that it is approving Deferred Action, which is temporary relief from deportation, for SIJS visa-eligible applicants. By obtaining Deferred Action, these children and youth will be exempt from deportation for two years and will be eligible to apply for Employment Authorization.
  • Inform children and youth petitioning for SIJS that a change to their circumstances can impact their eligibility for an SIJS visa. Despite having the appropriate finding and forms completed, youth may be found no longer eligible if they get married or are arrested.
  • Connect youth to community-based agencies that can provide support and specific guidance related to pursuing permanent legal residency once the cap is lifted.
  • Ensure youth have filed for health insurance under the ACA or other health care coverage.
  • Inform and connecting youth to adult education and higher education opportunities.
  • File all the appropriate forms to receive authorization for employment.

Citation: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status: A Critical Pathway to Safety and Permanence , Center for the Study of Social Policy

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Immigration Status & Extended Medi-Cal Coverage for Former Foster Youth

Q: I understand that former foster youth qualify for full-scope Medi-Cal coverage up to age 26, but what about for youth who are undocumented immigrants?

A: Former Foster Youth qualify for Medi-Cal up to age 26 under the Medi-Cal program for Former Foster Youth (FFY) which provides full scope Medi-Cal , regardless of immigration status.

This, among other clarifications and updates, was stated in the errata to All County Welfare Directors Letter 14-41, released August 4, 2016 by the Department of Health Care Services. The errata clarifies that the FFY should be immediately enrolled into the FFY program and enrollment should not be delayed while additional information about immigration status, if needed, is gathered. Information about the FFY’s immigration status is for record-keeping purposes and does NOT impact the FFY’s eligibility for full-scope Medi-Cal.

For more information about extended Medi-Cal coverage for former foster youth, visit http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/.

Citation: Errata to All County Welfare Directors Letter 14-41 (August 4, 2016)

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