Financial aid eligibility for reunified youth

Q: I am working with a young woman who has turned 21 and was previously in foster care. She was reunified with her mother approximately 7 weeks before she turned 18. Does this preclude her from educational financial aid that is tied to her foster youth status? Can she access Chafee and the other types of financial aid?

A: No, reunifying at age 17 does not preclude this young woman from any financial aid that she may be eligible for as a foster youth. Yes, she is categorically eligible for the Chafee Education & Training Voucher, the Board of Governors (BOG) Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant, and the Pell Grant. Provided below is more information about foster care status and eligibility for these types of financial aid.

For the Chafee Grant, a youth must have been a dependent or ward of the court living in foster care on or after their 16th birthday. However, it is important to note in this case because she is 21 years old, that if she turns 22 before July 1st of the award year she would not be eligible for Chafee.

For the BOG Fee Waiver, the Cal Grant and the Pell Grant, eligibility is linked to the student’s “independent” status on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Being “independent” means the student does 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 at least one day after their 13th birthday.

Citation: California Student Aid Commission (Chafee eligibility: https://www.chafee.csac.ca.gov/), U.S. Department of Education Office of Federal Student Aid (https://fafsa.ed.gov/)

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Eligible placements for AB 2464 re-entries

Q: I’m working with an 18 year old in guardianship who is no longer being provided support by their guardian, and is without a place to live. She has asked if she can access a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP).

Is there a way for this youth to re-enter foster care and access a SILP, and will she be eligible to receive her foster care payment directly as her own payee?

A: If this youth’s guardian is no longer providing ongoing support to her and she successfully re-enters Extended Foster Care through the process established by Assembly Bill 2454 (more information about this process in a previous Q of the W), then she would be eligible for the placement options available to non-minor dependents, including the Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP).

To access a SILP, she would have to pass a SILP Readiness Assessment and her housing would have to pass a Health & Safety Inspection. Youth placed in SILPs are eligible to receive their foster care payment directly.

Citation: Assembly Bill 2454 (2014), All County Information Notice I-17-15 (October 20, 2015), All County Letter 11-69 (October 13, 2011), All County Letter 11-77 (November 18, 2011)

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Clothing allowance & SCI under CCR

Q: I understand that foster care rates have changed as of January 1, 2017 as a result of California’s Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). What about the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment? Do these still exist under CCR?

A: Yes, the clothing allowance and the Specialized Care Increment (SCI) still exist under Continuum of Care Reform (CCR). On top of the foster care rates which did change as of January 1, 2017 (see 11/9/17 Q of the W to learn more), counties may continue to pay an SCI and clothing allowance.

As stated in All County Letter 16-79, families paid at a higher rate than the basic level rate (e.g. any additional SCI) may continue receiving those rates at county discretion. Counties will continue to provide written guidelines for their discretionary continuation of SCI rates and clothing allowances, and apply these guidelines equitably to determine a family’s eligibility for SCI rates or clothing allowances.

Citation: All County Letter 16-79 (September 22, 2016)

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New Foster Care Rates go into Effect January 1, 2017

Q: I am a relative caregiver. I understand that foster care rates changed effective January 1, 2017. Who did they change for, and when will I see this change in the monthly check I receive? If I don’t see an increase, who should I contact about it?

A: You are correct. Foster care rates did change for relative caregivers in addition to several other types of placement settings. The passage of Assembly Bill 403 necessitated the implementation of a new rate setting system to support the goals of California’s Continuum of Care Reform effort. This new rate structure will be implemented in two phases. The first phase, which took effect January 1, 2017, made changes to the rates for Home-Based Family Care (HBFC) and Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs).

The rates changes are outlined below. Because foster care is paid in arrears, care providers can expect to receive the payment showing the increased amount for care provided for January 2017, no later than February 15, 2017. If you do not see the correct amount, you should contact the California Department of Social Services’ Foster Care Audits & Rates Bureau at fosterca@dss.ca.gov.

Effective January 1, 2017, a basic level rate of $889 will be issued for all new placements of a child/youth in one of the following settings:

  • Resource Families
  • County foster family homes
  • Relatives (including both Federal and non-Federal relative cases and regardless of participation in the Approved Relative Caregiver Program)
  • Nonrelative Extended Family Members
  • Non-Minor Dependents in Supervised Independent Living Placements

Foster Family Agency (FFA) Rates

Effective January 1, 2017, all new and existing FFA Resource Families and certified families will be paid according to a rate structure that provides one flat rate for administration and incorporates the new components of Resource Family Approval (RFA) and Service & Supports (S&S).FFAs will be paid the total rate in the chart below:

Age 0-4 508 9-11 12-14 15-21
FFA Certified Family $896 $954 $994 $1,032 $1,072
Social Worker $340 $340 $340 $340 $340
S&S $156 $156 $156 $156 $156
RFA $48 $48 $48 $48 $48
Administration $672 $672 $672 $672 $672
Rate $2,112 $2,170 $2,210 $2,248 $2,288

Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Programs (STRTPs) and Group Homes

Effective January 1, 2017, the new STRTP rate is $12,036. For all out-of-state group home placements, the rate the county pays is based on the out-of-state group homes rate; however, the rate paid cannot exceed the new STRTP rate.

Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP), Non-Related Legal Guardianship (NRLG) Program & Adoption Assistance Program (AAP)

New placements of a child or youth (on or after January 1, 2017) who is determined to be eligible to receive assistance under Kin-GAP, the NRLG Program, and AAP will receive the basic level rate of $889.

The rate structure for families receiving AAP on behalf of an eligible child whose AAP agreement was signed and whose adoption finalized prior to May 27, 2011 will not change. (Consistent with existing law, AAP agreements signed or for AAP eligible adoptions that were finalized on or after May 27, 2011, may be reassessed based on the changing needs of the child or the circumstances of the adoptive parent).

The rate structure for families currently receiving Kin-GAP assistance payments or for NRLG cases where guardianship was established prior to or after May 1, 2011 will not change. Effective January 1, 2017, the Kin-GAP basic rate may be increased upon reassessment of the circumstances of the caregiver and the needs of the child for cases in which the kinship guardianship was established and dependency was terminated on or after May 1, 2011.

Out-of-State Foster Family Home (FFH) Placements

Out-of-State FFH rates will remain the same. Counties will continue to pay the other state’s rate as they do now.

Wraparound Rate

Effective January 1, 2017, the Wraparound rate is $8,573.

Citation: All County Letter 16-79 (September 22, 2016)

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Guidance on how to support sexually active foster youth

Q: My 16 year-old foster daughter told me that she is having sex with her boyfriend. I am not sure what to do and what is my role, versus the role of the social worker or her biological parents. This is a sensitive topic. Is there any official guidance from the state on what I should do?

A: The California Department of Social Services’ Community Care Licensing Division (CCL) has released a technical support resource guide for children’s residential facilities and resource families to address just this question.  The guide identifies five specific steps for caregivers to take in situation:

1.) The caregiver can review the Reproductive and Sexual Health Care Rights with the youth.

2.) The caregiver can offer reliable, non-biased information on safe sex and birth control to the youth.

3.) The caregiver can direct the youth to reliable websites with information about various types of birth control methods for pregnancy prevention.

4.) The caregiver can assist the youth in making an appointment with a health provider who can explain different birth control options.

5.) The caregiver shall provide transportation to the health care appointment.

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Eligibility for BOG Fee Waiver

Q: I know that income eligibility for Pell grants for students who were in foster care after their 13th birthday is based on the student’s income and does not take into consideration the income of parents or guardians. Is the same true for the BOG Fee Waiver at community colleges or do schools consider the income of a young person’s parents?

A: The BOG fee waiver application can be found HERE.  The application uses the same standards as the FAFSA to determine if a student is independent and therefore not required to provide parental income. As with the FAFSA, if a student was in foster care or was a dependent or ward of the court any time after the age of 13, they do not need to provide parental information. Students are strongly encouraged however to apply not only for the BOG fee waiver, but also to submit a FAFSA which is necessary to obtain a Pell Grant or CalGrant. For maximum financial aid, the FAFSA must be submitted no later than March 2.

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THP+FC client to case manager ratio

Q: I supervise a THP+FC program and am wondering what the maximum caseload is for a THP+FC social worker? I also would like to know where these numbers could be found in the Community Care Licensing regulations.

A: THP+FC placements are licensed under the Transitional Housing Placement Provider license. The client to case manager ratio for a Transitional Housing Placement Provider is 1:12. While the Transitional Housing Placement Program regulations indicate a ratio of 1:25 for social workers, this was amended in statute to be a 1 to 12 case manager to client ratio. You can find this is Welfare and Institutions Code section 16522(f)(3).

Citation: Welfare & Institutions Code §16522(f)(3); Manual of Policies & Procedures, Transitional Housing Placement Program, Title 22, Division 6, Chapter 7, Section 86065.5

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Can non-minors in guardianships be placed in a SILP or THP+FC?

Q: I work for Child Protective Services and would like to know whether youth in Non-Related Legal Guardianships (NRLG) are eligible for placement in a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP) or in a transitional housing placement (THP+FC).

Also, is there a certain age these youth had to have gone into the guardianship to be eligible for extended benefits?

A: Youth in guardianships, including Non-Related Legal Guardianship (NRLG) are not eligible for Extended Foster Care, and so they cannot be placed in foster care placements such as a SILP or THP+FC.

Some youth in guardianships are eligible for extended Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (Kin-GAP) benefits:

  • Youth in NRLG established in dependency court are eligible for extended Kin-GAP to age 21, regardless of the age the guardianship was established.[1]
  • Youth in NRLG established by the probate court are only eligible for extended Kin-GAP as follows: If they are still in high school when they turn 18, they can remain receiving benefits until they graduate high school or turn 19, whichever comes first. “This is called the high school completion rule”.[2]
  • Youth in kin guardianships are eligible for extended Kin-GAP to age 21 if the guardianship was established after the youth turned 16[3] (with the exception of the condition stated in the next bulletin). If the guardianship was established prior to turning 16, they are only eligible for extended benefits under the terms of the high school completion rule stated in the previous bullet.[4]
  • Youth in kin guardianships who have a physical or mental disability, the Kin-GAP benefits can be extended to age 21 regardless of the age the guardianship was established.[5]

Citation:

[1] Welfare & Institutions Code § 11400(2)(aa)
[2] All County Letter 11‐69
[3] Welfare & Institutions Code §§ 11363(d), 11386(h); All County Letter 11‐86; Senate Bill 1013
[4] Welfare & Institutions Code § 11363(c)(3), 11386(g)(3); All County Letter 11‐15; All County Letter 11‐86
[5] Welfare & Institutions Code §§ 11363(c)(2), 11386(g)(2)

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THP-Plus – are married youth eligible?

Q: Are there any restrictions regarding married former foster youth applying for the THP-Plus program?

A: No, there is no restriction regarding married former foster youth participating in THP-Plus. If they are otherwise THP-Plus-eligible, youth who are married can participate in THP-Plus.

Youth are eligible for THP-Plus who were in foster care or out-of-home probation on or after their 18th birthday, and who are ages 18 up to age 24,[1] and up to age 25 in counties who have opted into the THP-Plus extension[2] established by SB 1252.

Citations:

[1] Welfare & Institutions Code Section 11403.2(a)(2)(A)

[2] Welfare & Institutions Code Section 11403.2(a)(2)(B)

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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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