Married Youth’s Eligibility for Extended Foster Care

Q: I am nonminor dependent (NMD) who recently got married. Am I eligible to still participate in extended foster care?

A. Yes, you are eligible to enter, re-enter, and remain in Extended Foster Care. This was recently addressed the All County Letter 18-101 disseminated by the California Department of Social Services, stated below:

“In a recent published decision, In re H.C. (2017) 17 Cal.App.5th 1261, the Fourth District
Court of Appeals found that marriage does not exclude a youth from EFC eligibility in either
federal law or California statute. This ruling has mandatory authority over lower courts in
California.

As a result…if otherwise eligible, NMDs may now enter, re-enter or remain in EFC if they are married or get married. Married youth in EFC shall be subject to the same Title IV-E supervision requirements as any other NMD and they are eligible for the same placement options, if available and appropriate.”

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Letter No. 18-101, Eligibility for Extended Foster Care (EFC) For Married Youth and Youth Performing Non-Active Duty Military Service, (September 12, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACL/2018/18-101.pdf

Chafee Grant Application Deadline

Q: I submitted my FAFSA a few months ago and my college has already packaged my financial aid. I didn’t realize that I could qualify for a Chafee grant and so didn’t apply. Is it too late for me to apply since college has already started?

A: It is not too late. There is no deadline for submitting a Chafee grant application and the application can be submitted any time during the school year. Chafee funds of up to $5000 are available to students enrolled at least half time who were in foster care between the ages of 16 and 18. In order to qualify you must submit both a FAFSA (or California Dream Act Application) and a separate Chafee application. Although funds are distributed at the beginning of the school year, some students do not enroll and these funds are returned and continue to be distributed throughout the year as long as there are funds available.

Even if you do not get awarded funds this year, applying now will make it more likely that you will qualify next year, so the sooner you can submit your application the better.

Note that currently you must not have reached your 22nd birthday as of July 1st of the award year, however this age limit is in the process of being increased to age 26.

Foster Youth Reproductive and Sexual Health Rights-Storing Birth Control Pills

Q: I am with an Foster Family Agency. What guidance should I give Resource Families about a foster youth’s right to obtain and use contraception, specifically any requirements about storing birth control pills.

A: First, you should inform Resource Families that youth and young adults in foster care have the right to consent to or decline medical care (without need for consent from a parent, caregiver, guardian, social worker, probation officer, court, or authorized representative) for:

  1. The prevention or treatment of pregnancy, including contraception, at any age (except sterilization).
  2. An abortion, at any age.
  3. Diagnosis and treatment of sexual assault, at any age.
  4. The prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of STIs, at age 12 or older.

This is one of ten reproductive and sexual health rights of foster youth outlined in All County Letter 16-81  CDSS provides the following guidance about storing prescriptive contraception medicine, such as birth control pills:

“Resource families are not required to centrally store prescription medications. For youth under the age of 18, the resource family shall use the Reasonable and Prudent Parent Standard (RPPS) to determine whether it is appropriate for the youth to have access to medications for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(c)(2); RFA Written Directives (WD), § 11-03(c)(2)). For youth who are 18 or older, the resource family shall permit the youth to access medications necessary for self-administration (FFA ILS, § 88487.3(d)(2); RFA WD, § 11-03(d)(2)).”

Source: All County Letter 16-81, CCL’s: “Healthy Sexual Development Resource Guide for Children’s Residential Facilities and Resource Families

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

Medi-Cal for Former Foster Youth in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors Program

Q: I understand that foster youth who are part of the Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) program are eligible for full-scope Medi-Cal. What about once they exit their URM placement as non-minors? Are they eligible for Medi-Cal up to age 26 in the same way that former foster youth are in our county child welfare systems?

A: Yes, youth who meet Former Foster Youth (FFY) Program eligibility requirements are eligible to continue receiving full-scope Medi-Cal under the FFY Program. California’s FFY Program eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • In foster care in any state on 18th birthday
  • Currently reside in California
  • Younger than 26

According to recently issued guidance from the California Department of Social Services, “When the County Welfare Department learns that a FFY eligible Unaccompanied Refugee Minors (URM) youth has exited their URM placement (at age 18 or older), the County Welfare Department shall seamlessly transition the youth into the Medi-Cal program for FFY and assign the 4M aid code even if the youth’s whereabouts are unknown.”

Citation: California Department of Social Services. All County Welfare Directors Letter 18-14. All County Information Notice I-38-18 (July 3, 2018). http://www.cdss.ca.gov/Portals/9/ACIN/2018/I-38_18.pdf

For previous guidance issued by the state to counties regarding FFY eligibility for Medi-Cal, visit Children Now’s webpage: http://coveredtil26.childrennow.org/resources

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

Resources for Students with Disabilities

Q: I am helping a student with learning disabilities who will be attending community college in the fall. Are there any resources available for her as a student with a disability?

A: Yes, every community college campus has a Disabled Students Programs and Services (DSPS) office. She will need to provide evidence that she has a disability in order to qualify for their services. The DSPS program provides support services, specialized instruction, and educational accommodations to students with disabilities so that they can participate as fully and benefit as equitably from the college experience as their non-disabled peers. Examples of services available through DSPS that are over and above those regularly offered by the college would be test-taking facilitation, assessment for learning disabilities, specialized counseling, interpreter services for hearing-impaired or deaf students, mobility assistance, note taker services, reader services, transcription services, specialized tutoring, access to adaptive equipment, job development/placement, registration assistance, special parking and specialized instruction.

You can find a list of DSPS for each campus here.

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