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Extending Foster Care to 21

Extending Foster Care to 21

6/3/2014

The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (H.R. 6893/P.L. 110-351) was signed on Oct. 7, 2008. This law helps to: connect and support relative caregivers; improve the lives of children in foster care; support tribal foster care and adoptions; improve incentives for adoption and adoption assistance; provide states options for subsidized guardianship payments for relatives; provide assistance for kinship and navigators programs and new family connection grants; and, provide federal support for young people up to age 21. To view a summary of the Act, click here.

Background

The approximately 26,000 youth who “age out” of foster care at age 18 each year face significant challenges in meeting their needs for health care, education, employment, housing and emotional support. Although all states provide independent living services to ease this critical transition, an increasing number of states allow youth to remain in, or return to, foster care after they reach age 18. A study by the Chapin Hall Center for Children found that 19-year-old youth in Illinois who chose to remain in foster care experienced better results than did 19-year-old former foster youth in Iowa and Wisconsin, who were required to leave care at age 18. The Illinois youth received more independent living services, progressed further in their education, had more access to health and mental health services, and experienced less economic hardship and involvement in the criminal justice system than did those who left care.

Extending Foster Care

Some states—including Connecticut, Illinois, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania—have long had policies or laws providing for extension of foster care, while a number of other states have enacted measures only within the past few years. Florida allows foster youth to petition the court for continuation of foster care to age 19. Iowa enacted a Preparation for Adult Living Program in 2006 that allowed a foster youth to continue to reside with his or her foster family beyond age 18 and extended Medicaid coverage to age 21. A 2005 Oregon law allowed a court to terminate foster care prior to age 21 only if the court determines that the youth has been provided adequate case planning and services and that the youth has safe and stable housing. Also in 2005, Texas authorized the extension of foster care eligibility and transition services to age 21 and required that eligible youth up to age 21 be allowed to return to foster care.

Brain Science

One idea behind this policy of extending foster care is that adolescent brain activity requires extended services to achieve better results when the children reach adulthood and to provide the same or similar skills and assistance to foster kids that children in intact families receive. Further, foster care services are typically aimed at young children, not older youth in adolescence whose developmental needs are much different. Specifically, there is research that shows children don’t go from adolescence straight into adulthood; they transition in a period being called “emerging adulthood.” The concept of “emerging adulthood” recognizes that a person “does not achieve independence at a pre-determined age.”Understanding this aspect of brain development can better inform child welfare policy.

Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 (FCA)

While a number of states have provided a variety of services to foster youth after age 18, those services would have been entirely state funded. Passage of the FCA now provides states with the option to continue providing Title IV-E reimbursable foster care, adoption, or guardianship assistance payments to children up to the age of 19, 20 or 21 if the youth is:

  • completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential;
  • enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational education;
  • participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment;
  • employed for at least 80 hours per month; or
  • incapable of doing any [of the above] due to a medical condition.

In addition, the Act amends the definition of a child-care institution to include "a supervised setting in which the individual is living independently, in accordance with such conditions that the Secretary [of HHS] shall establish in regulations."

Since the passage of Fostering Connections, at least 9 states and the District of Columbia have implemented legislation authorizing continued foster care – reimbursable through Title IV-E - beyond age 18. Most of the states that enacted the provision extend services to age 21, with some variations. In 2009 Texas lawmakers authorized foster care eligibility through age 22 for those youths enrolled in high school or a program leading to a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate. Youth that are regularly attending an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational or technical program; participating in a program or activity that promotes, or removes barriers to, employment; employed for at least 80 hours a month; or are incapable of performing theses activities described due to a documented medical condition are eligible for foster care payments to age 21.

In 2009, Illinois established a program of transitional discharge from foster care for teenage foster children, enabling former foster youths under the age of 21 who encounter significant hardship upon emancipation to reengage with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Juvenile Court, in order to secure essential supports and services available to foster youth seeking to learn to live independently as adults.

While Washington legislators expanded foster care to age 21 in the 2009 session, pending 2011 legislation in Washington supports foster youth to age 19, with the goal of increasing support to age 21 as resources become available. In 2010 Alaska determined that if continued custody is in the best interests of the person and the person consents to it, the court may grant two-year extensions of commitment that do not extend beyond the person's 21st birthday. The legislation also allowed for an additional period of state custody past 19 years of age if the person is in need of out-of-home care to avoid personal harm or homelessness and to enhance the person's ability to continue their education or otherwise improve their successful transition to independent living.

To view a summary of the Act, click here.

 Foster Care to Age 21 Provisions of the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008

Below is a list of enacted legislation from the 2009-2013 legislative sessions in addition to both pending and enacted legislation from the 2014 legislative session so far.

Legislation in this area falls into three main categories: extending foster care services to age 21, allowing youth between the ages of 19-21 to voluntarily reenter foster care and transitional or independent living assistance. Each of these categories comes with its own variance of policies and states have responded to legislative proposals differently. For instance during the current legislative session about 23 bills have been introduced in 11 states (CA, HI, IL, ME, NE, NC, NY, OH, VA, WA, WI, WA). So far eight have been enacted, five have failed, and 10 are still pending.

 

State

Provisions (2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009)

  2014
California AB 2454 (Pending) This bill would additionally authorize a nonminor who has not attained 21 years of age to petition the court, as described above, if the nonminor received public assistance after attaining 18 years of age, as specified, and his or her former guardian or guardians or adoptive parent or parents fail to provide ongoing support, and the court determines that it is in the nonminor's best interest for the court to assume dependency jurisdiction. By expanding the number of persons who are eligible to petition the juvenile court to assume dependency jurisdiction, the bill would increase the duties of social workers and probation officers, thereby creating a state-mandated local program.
California SB 1252 (Pending) This bill would extend transitional housing pursuant to the above provisions to a former foster youth who is not more than 25 years of age, and for a total of 36 cumulative months, if the former foster youth is completing secondary education or is enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education.
Hawaii SB 1340 Establishes the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Program extending foster care services to provide care and supervision of eligible foster youth until their twenty-first birthday.
Illinois HB 3761 (Pending) Creates the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Act. Requires the Department of Human Services to implement this Act in accordance with the State's approved Title IV-E State Plan. Provides that a youth who exited foster care after reaching 18 years of age but before reaching 21 years of age may reenter foster care and receive extended foster care services. Sets forth eligibility criteria and provides that if a youth chooses to participate in extended foster care services the Department and the youth shall sign a voluntary foster care agreement that shall include certain information including (i) the obligation for the youth to continue to meet the conditions for eligibility for the duration of the voluntary foster care agreement and (ii) the voluntary nature of the youth's participation in receiving extended foster care services. Contains provisions concerning written report requirements; periodic case reviews by the appropriate juvenile court; termination of the voluntary adult foster care agreement; and other matters.
Illinois HB 5571 (Pending) Amends the Children and Family Services Act; requires the Department of Children and Family Services to extend foster care services to foster youth up to the age of 21 if a youth meets one of the following criteria: the youth is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential; the youth is enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education.
Maine HB1206 This amendment replaces the bill with a resolve that establishes a transition grant program for individuals exiting the state foster care system at 21 years of age and actively pursuing a postsecondary education. The program is limited to 40 individuals at any one time who are at least 21 years of age but less than 27 years of age. The Department of Health and Human Services is required to adopt rules to govern the program, including rules governing eligibility, levels of financial support, duration of assistance and postsecondary education navigator services. The rules must also establish the membership, terms, voting procedures and governance structure of an advisory committee to advise the department and to provide an annual report to the department and to the joint standing committee of the Legislature having jurisdiction over health and human services matters. The department is required to develop the roles and responsibilities for one postsecondary education navigator to be hired by the department to provide transitional services and college student support for those individuals in the transition grant program.
Nebraska LB 216 Establishes the Young Adult Voluntary Services Act. Former foster children between the ages of 19 and 21 can voluntarily request continued services from the state, if certain conditions are met. Those who enter into a guardianship or adoption after January 1, 2014 are also eligible, if they entered into the guardianship or were adopted at age 16, if they also met the conditions outlined in the bill. Extended care and support includes, but are not limited to Medicaid coverage, housing support and case management.  The Department of Health and Human Services shall conduct a redetermination of income eligibility for Title IV-E for young adults who sign up for voluntary services and support under this act.
North Carolina HB 670 (Pending) Authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to study extending the provision of foster care to the age of 21.
New York SB 6815 (Pending) A respondent, who was previously placed or transferred into placement with a local social services district pursuant to this section or section 353.3 or 355.1 of this article and who was discharged from foster care on or after the date on which the child attained the age of eighteen due to a failure to consent to the continuation of placement, may move or, with his or her consent, may be the subject of a motion by a social services official to reenter foster care in accordance with the provisions of section one thousand ninety-one of this act.
Ohio HB 423 (Pending) Extends the age for which a person is eligible for federal payments for foster care under Title IV-E to age twenty-one.
Virginia HB 668 & SB 134 Local departments and licensed child-placing agencies shall provide independent living services to any person between 18 and 21 years of age who is in the process of transitioning from foster care to self-sufficiency.
Washington SB 5405 Provides for the extension of foster care for youth over 18 if they are participating in a program or activity designated to promote or remove barriers to employment; provides the services to be included in extended foster care; provides that youth in foster care must be informed of such extension at age 17.
Washington HB 2335 Expands the eligibility criteria to allow a youth to request extended foster care services if the youth engages in employment for a specified number of hours or more per month; limits expenditures on the new category of extended foster care to the funding provided specially for that purpose.
Wisconsin SB 451 Relating to: extended out-of-home care to 21 years of age for children with individualized education programs, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting rule-making authority.
  2013
California AB 787 Clarifies and makes technical changes to the California Fostering Connections to Success Act to ensure the continued implementation of the Act.  Clarifies that former non-minor dependents (NMD) who reached permanency, but whose guardian, relative, or adoptive parent died before their 21st birthday, may reenter extended foster care; authorizes probation officers to place NMDs in approved transitional placements;  adds the existing definition of "transition dependent" to the relevant code section which determines recipients of Aid to Families with Dependent Children Foster Care (AFDC-FC); and  clarifies how the court may terminate jurisdiction over a NMD, but still retain the ability to monitor them as a non-minor.
Delaware HB 163 Requires the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families to create and maintain a developmentally appropriate, comprehensive program that fully integrates independent living services from ages 14 to 21 and which will assist foster youth with their successful transition into adulthood.
Florida SB 1036 Provides that a child who is living in licensed care on his or her 18th birthday and who has not achieved permanency is eligible to remain in licensed care if he or she meets specified criteria. Requires a young adult choosing to remain in care beyond 18 years of age to reside in a supervised living environment, approved by the Department of Children and Families (DCF) or a community-based care lead agency (CBC).  Allows a young adult to leave and reenter care an unlimited number of times before reaching 21 years of age.  Requires a CBC lead agency to provide regular case management reviews that ensure contact with a case manager at least monthly while a young adult participates in extended foster care and requires the court to review the young adult's status at least every six months and hold a permanency hearing at least annually.  Requires the creation of a transition plan after the 17th birthday of a child in foster care that will be reviewed and updated as necessary until the child leaves care.
Missouri SB 208 Raises the age limit for when a youth may reenter into foster care.
Virginia SJR 282 Requests the Department of Social Services to develop and present options for implementing the extension of foster care maintenance and adoption assistance payments for individuals up to 21 years of age.
Virginia SB 863 & HB 1743 Relates to independent living services for foster children, provides that local departments of social services and licensed child-placing agencies may make independent living services available to persons 18 to 21 years of age who are released from commitment to the Department of Juvenile Justice after reaching 18 years of age and who were committed to the care of a local board of social services or child-placing agency at the time they were committed to the custody of the Department of Juvenile Justice.
 

2012

California
AB 1712, Chapter 846

Makes the non-minor dependents or youth participating in Foster Care to 21 eligible for the court-appointed special advocate (CASA) program so that volunteer CASAs can provide designated services and support to youth under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court.

Delaware
HJR 18

This resolution is in response to recommendations from Delaware's Youth Advisory Council, which is comprised of youth who have experienced foster care and who speak on behalf of all youth in care. The Youth Advisory Council provides the opportunity for youth, who are sincere about improving foster care, to assemble and discuss issues and possible solutions. The Youth Advisory Council members, in collaboration with the Delaware Youth Opportunities Initiative, have asked the Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families and the General Assembly to consider creating a developmentally appropriate foster care program for youth/young adults up to the age of 21 to assist with their successful transition to adulthood. This resolution requires significant youth participation in submitting a timely analysis and report on the practical and fiscal impacts of extending Delaware's foster care program to age 21.

Kentucky
KY S 213

Relates to transitional living support for persons committed to the custody of the Commonwealth, establishes new definitions for eligible youth, transitional living support, and transition plan, establishes that a youth may choose, prior to his or her attaining the age of 19, to extend or reinstate his or her commitment to the cabinet to the age of 21 years old, establishes duties of the cabinet related to this extension or reinstatement.

Pennsylvania
HB 1261, Act No. 2012-80

Extends  Foster Care to youth age 21.

Washington
HB 2592, Chapter 52

Allows all youth currently enrolled in the foster care to 21 program for the purposes of postsecondary education to remain enrolled until they turn twenty-one, are no longer otherwise eligible, or choose to leave the program. Within three years of the effective date of this act, the "foster care to 21" program will cease to operate, and youth seeking a postsecondary education will be solely served by the extended foster care program.

Washington
HB 1128, Chapter 330

Supports foster youth to age nineteen with the goal of increasing support to age twenty-one as resources become available.

  2011

Colorado
HB 1079, Chap. 83

Requires the court to consider the individual circumstances of each youth in out-of-home placement who is at least age 17 to determine whether the youth is ready to become independent on reaching age 18 or whether he or she should remain under the care of the county until age 21.

Maine

SPO352
LD 1152
Chapter 402

Establishes extended care for youth ages 18-20, as long as the individual attained the age of 18 while in the care and custody of the state, is enrolled in secondary, postsecondary or vocational school, is participating in a program that promotes employment or removes barriers to employment, is employed at least 80 hours per month, or has special circumstances exempting an individual from these requirements.

Michigan

SB 435, Chap 225

Extends to age 21 the age eligibility for young adult foster care program, guardianship assistance and adoption assistance. Determines that a youth who exited foster care after reaching 18 years of age but before reaching 21 years of age may reenter foster care and receive extended foster care services.

Michigan

SB 440, Chap. 230

Modifies age criteria to remain in foster care and receive adoption subsidy. The department may place a child who is at least 16 but less than 21 years of age in his or her own unlicensed residence, or in the unlicensed residence of an adult who has no supervisory responsibility for the child, if the department maintains supervisory responsibility for that child. If the child is at least 18 but less than 21 years of age, he or she must meet the requirements of the young adult voluntary foster care act.

Nevada
AB 350, Chap. 57

Extends the jurisdiction for youth in foster care from age 18 to age 21, at the youth’s request. For young adults in foster care, this extension will be used by youth to offer additional time to identify a permanent family, and/or to provide the young adult with the services, supports and skills needed to successfully make the transition to adulthood.

North Dakota
SB 2192, Chap.227

Relates to the disposition of a child needing continued foster care services after the age of eighteen and under the age of twenty-one and meeting the education, employment or disability requirements of the Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008.

Washington
HB 1128 Chap. 330

Companion bill to WA SB 5245. Supports foster youth to age nineteen with the goal of increasing support to age twenty-one as resources become available.

  2010

Alaska
HB 126

Determines that if continued custody is in the best interests of the person and the person consents to it, the court may grant two-year extensions of commitment that do not extend beyond the person's 21st birthday. Allows for an additional period of state custody past 19 years of age if the person is in need of out-of-home care to avoid personal harm or homelessness and to enhance the person's ability to continue their education or otherwise improve their successful transition to independent living.

California
AB 12

Requires the department to amend its foster care state plan to extend care to specified individuals up to 21 years of age.

Delaware
SB 113

Creates a procedure by which youth exiting foster care in Delaware and who are provided services under the John H. Chafee Independence Act and/or the Fostering Connections and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 have a legal mechanism for Family Court to review the appropriateness of such services. Extended jurisdiction may continue until the youth attains 21 years of age.

District of Columbia
B 547, Chap. 230

Determines that the court shall have jurisdiction to enter a guardianship order and shall retain jurisdiction to enforce, modify, or terminate a guardianship order until a child reaches 21 years of age; provided, that when the child reaches 18 years of age, the child consents and the court finds it is in the best interest of the child.

Tennessee
HB 3114, Chap. 1065

Makes foster care services available to certain persons between 18 and 21 who were in foster care upon their 18th birthday.

 

2009

Illinois
HB 4054, Public Act 581

 

Creates the Foster Youth Successful Transition to Adulthood Act. Establishes a program of transitional discharge from foster care for teenage foster children, enabling former foster youths under the age of 21 who encounter significant hardship upon emancipation to reengage with the Department of Children and Family Services and the Juvenile Court, in order to secure essential supports and services available to foster youth seeking to learn to live independently as adults.

Minnesota
SR 666, Chap. 106

Allows certain foster children between the ages of 18 and 21 to request, and requires the local agency to develop, a specific plan related to the foster child's vocational, educational, social, or maturational needs, and must ensure that any foster care, housing, or counseling benefits are consistent with that plan. Provides for foster care benefits eligibility until age 21 under certain conditions.

Texas
HB 704, Chap. 96

Adds a section to the Family Code establishing extended jurisdiction over a foster youth, if the youth requests it, after the youth’s 18th birthday. Allows a court to conduct placement review hearings for a child in the managing conservatorship of the state after the child's 18th birthday until the child's 21st birthday.

Texas
SB 2080, Chap. 1238

Allows the department to continue to pay the cost of foster care after a youth is age 18 until age 22.

Texas
HB1151, Chap. 1118


Extends foster care payments after a youth is age 18.

Washington
HB 1961, Chap. 235

Allows for the continued foster care or group care and necessary support and transition services to youth ages eighteen to twenty-one years who are enrolled and participating in a post high school academic or vocational program.  Expands foster care up to age 21 for youth who are enrolled and participating in a postsecondary or vocational educational program or who are engaged in employment for eighty hours or more per month. Allows for the continued foster care or group care and necessary support and transition services to youth ages eighteen to twenty-one years who are enrolled and participating in a post high school academic or vocational program.

About This NCSL Project

The Denver-based child support project staff focuses on state policy, tracking legislation and providing research and policy analysis, consultation, and technical assistance specifically geared to the legislative audience. Denver staff can be reached at (303) 364-7700 or cyf-info@ncsl.org.

NCSL staff in Washington, D.C. track and analyze federal legislation and policy and represent state legislatures on child support issues before Congress and the Administration. In D.C., Joy Johnson Wilson (joy.wilson@ncsl.org) and Rachel Morgan (rachel.morgan@ncsl.org) can be reached at (202) 624-5400.

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