Extending Foster Care Beyond Age 18
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. Many young people in care bear the scars of physical abuse and emotional trauma. As children, they may have faced exposure (including prenatally) to alcohol and other drugs, parental abuse, neglect and abandonment, violence in their homes and communities, separation from birth families, and frequent changes in foster care placement. These experiences can place children at great risk of developing physical, emotional and behavioral problems that can lead to school failure, teen pregnancy, homelessness, unemployment and incarceration.
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.
By the Numbers
Youth Aging Out of Care at 18, by the Numbers…
- 1-in-5 was homeless.
- 36 percent of youth in one study had been homeless at least once by age 26; nearly half of those youth had been homeless more than once and nearly 75 percent had been homeless four or more times.
- A third lived in at least three different places; 20 percent had lived in four or more.
- Only 58 percent graduated high school by 19 (compared with 87 percent of all 19-year olds).
- One-fifth of 26-year-old’s did not have a high school diploma or GED; only 8 percent of these young adults had earned a postsecondary degree.
- Only 46 percent of youth in the same study were employed.
- $13,989 was the average income earned at age 26 and 26 (compared to $32,312 for youth in the general population.
- 1 in 4 was involved in the criminal justice system within 2 years of leaving care.
- 30 percent of 21-year-old former foster youth reported criminal justice system involvement.
- By age 26, the majority of young women and four-fifths of young men in the study had been arrested; nearly one-third of those young women and almost two-thirds of the young men had spent at least one night in jail since they were 18 years old.
- Nearly 80 percent of young women became pregnant by age 26 (compared with 55 percent of young women in the general population).
- Nonresident children of these mothers were most likely to be living with foster or adoptive parents (compared with nonresident children of mothers in the general population who were most likely to be living with grandparents or other relatives).
Youth Remaining in Care Beyond 18…
- Doubled the odds that they would be working or in high school at 19.
- Were twice as likely to have completed at least one year of college by age 21.
- Doubled the percentage of youth remaining in care until 21 who earned a college degree.
- Reduced by 38 percent the incidence of pregnancy among young women in care before age 20.
- $72,000 estimated increase in per-person lifetime earnings by extending foster care.
- $481,000 more in projected earnings over their work-life for former foster youth with a college degree compared to those with only a high school diploma.
- $2.40 return on each dollar spent on extended foster care with the attainment of a bachelor’s degree, according to a cost-benefit analysis conducted in California.
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. Approximately 28 states and the District of Columbia have enacted legislation to extend foster care beyond age 18. The 28 states include Alabama, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
NCSL’s Older Youth in Foster Care page has more details on the legislation passed in these states.
Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008
While a number of states have provided a variety of services to foster youth after age 18, these services have been entirely state-funded. The federal Fostering Connections to Success Act of 2008 (FCA), however, offers states 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 that 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.
- Incapable of doing any of the above because of a medical condition.
Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014
To further assist older youth in foster care to successfully transition to adulthood, in 2014, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act eliminated Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency goal for children under 16. The legislation also requires state child welfare agencies to consult with foster children age 14 and older in the development of, or revision to, his or her case plan. It requires the plan to include a document describing the rights of the child to education, health, visitation, and court participation as well as the right to stay safe and avoid exploitation. Additionally, state child welfare agencies must provide foster youth aging out of care at 18, or greater if the state has so elected, with a birth certificate, a Social Security card, health insurance information, medical records, and a driver’s license or a state identification card.
Other Issues to Consider
As foster youth grow into adolescence and early adulthood, they must navigate the complex processes of becoming independent, responsible adults while developing a sense of personal and sexual identity, and establishing emotional independence and maturity. They must pursue educational and vocational goals while learning how to balance a checking account, obtain a car, and participate in a host of other critical activities.
This process does not automatically happen by virtue of turning 18, and in fact, studies have shown that youth don’t go straight from adolescence to adulthood, but rather go through a process called “emerging adulthood.” The Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative provides a breakdown of the adolescent brain research findings as well as a discussion of how this process of emerging adulthood is particularly critical for former foster youth.
This paper highlights the research on the adolescent brain and offers considerations for policymakers when pursuing an extended care policy.
View the Document
Implementation of Extended Foster Care
Adopting an extended foster care policy is half the battle. Implementing it is the other half. This paper explores ways in which lawmakers can engage multiple stakeholders in the legislative and planning process to make implementation go smoothly. Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago performed a study of California’s Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB12) from passage in the Legislature through implementation. The study offers a discussion of obstacles, both expected and unexpected, that can inform lawmakers considering this policy in the future.
View the Document
Normalcy for Foster Youth
“Being able to participate in clubs, sports and extracurricular activities should not be the exception for youth in foster care, it should be the expectation. By joining the judo and wrestling teams, I established friendships, stayed out of trouble and gained experiences that enhanced my college resume. For all young people, especially those in foster care, being able to experience these normal, everyday activities helps us learn more about ourselves and taking on responsibilities as we mature into adulthood.”
—Keola Limkin, Hawaii, former youth in foster care
One important way in which states are working to improve young peoples’ transition from foster care into adulthood, is to ensure that youth can engage in a range of developmentally and age-appropriate experiences necessary for healthy emotional and social development.
What Is Normalcy for Youth in Foster Care and Why Is it Important?
Science now informs us that the teenage years provide a critical window for adolescent brain development. During adolescence, teens experience significant brain growth and development of new neural connections and the pruning of unused connections. Changes in dopamine levels in the brain allow youth to tackle complex challenges associated with impending adulthood, explore adult behavior and learn from experiences. For youth who have experienced trauma due to maltreatment, removal from home and foster care, healthy development of the brain and the normal pruning and strengthening of neural synapses can be interrupted. Providing positive, enriching experiences and stable, nurturing relationships can repair damage and build healthy new neural connections in the brain. Policymakers can contribute to that process through the provision of appropriate normalcy policies which can be key to a young person’s success.
Barriers to Normalcy
According to the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative’s What Young People Need to Thrive, young people in foster care face a series of barriers that inhibit their attempts to participate in activities critical to their healthy emotional and social development. In addition, the child welfare system is not always designed to meet the needs of young adults. Some of the barriers include:
- Child welfare policies that are created for younger children but inappropriate for older youth. Policies intended to protect younger children can often prevent older youth from participating in typical teenage experiences. These can include requiring background checks of friends’ families before participating in sleepovers and other activities; refusing to allow youth to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities because of scheduling difficulties and liability concerns; not allowing young people to go on school trips, vacationing with the foster family or visit with siblings and relatives. Other policies restrict young people from more simple activities such as going on dates, carpooling, changing hairstyles, getting a job, riding a lawnmower or motorized bike, being alone in one’s room, or going online without supervision and approval.
- Placement in congregate or group care, while necessary in some cases for youth with specific behavioral health needs, can prevent young people from receiving the privacy, individual attention and nurturing that are critical to a successful transition into healthy, productive adulthood. Strict curfews and lengthy approval processes further contribute to a young person’s loss of independence and decision-making.
- Frequent placement moves in foster care result in young people’s loss of friendships and relationships with classmates, teachers, coaches, mentors, siblings and other family members. Disruptions in school attendance and moving from one school to another can have serious implications for youth’s long-term educational attainment and ultimate employment goals.
- Inability to maintain relationships, especially with siblings and other relatives and friends because of frequent placement moves, and the need for background checks and/or approval to visit can contribute to a young person’s sense of loss.
- Lack of transportation or funds for transportation prohibit youth from attaining after-school jobs, participating in extracurricular activities and visiting siblings and other relatives.
- Other barriers faced by youth in foster care include the constant denial of permission for various activities and the general heightened scrutiny and stigma associated with placement in foster care.
Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014
The Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 aims to assist states in this process by requiring states to establish “normalcy” policies which include:
- Implementation of reasonable and prudent parenting standards for caregivers and institutions providing foster care.
- Eliminating Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement (APPLA).
- Involving youth in their case and transition planning.
In response to what we now know about adolescent brain development and a growing consensus around the need to provide youth in foster care with normal activities and experiences to improve their chances at transitioning to healthy adulthood, the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 included a series of provisions intended to promote normalcy:
- Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard and Participation in Developmentally Appropriate Activities
- States are required to implement a reasonable and prudent parenting standard for a foster parent to make parental decisions to maintain the health, safety and best interest of a child and to make normal, day-to-day decisions affecting children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, social or sporting activities.
- States must amend state licensing standards for foster family homes and for child care institutions providing foster care to allow the use of a reasonable and prudent parenting standard. Contracts are required to designate an official to apply the standard and training on the standard must be provided for caregivers.
- States are to provide regular, ongoing opportunities for youth in foster care to engage in developmentally appropriate activities.
- Elimination of APPLA
- The new legislation eliminates Another Permanent Planned Living Arrangement (APPLA) as a permanency goal for children under 16 and adds additional case plan and case review requirements for older youth who have a permanency goal of APPLA. APPLA is the term created by the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) to designate the least preferred permanency option for children for whom there is no goal for a legal, permanent family. These children age out of the foster care system, are not reunited with their biological families and are not eligible for adoption or legal guardianship. Such youth face high unemployment, lack of educational advancement, and poor health and mental health outcomes. Eliminating APPLA as a permanency goal would enable caseworkers to seek better permanency alternatives, such as adoption and reunification, for such youth.
- Youth Engagement in Case and Transition Planning for Successful Adulthood
- States must consult with foster children age 14 and older in the development of, or revision to, their case plans. The case plan must include a document describing the rights of the child to education, health, visitation and court participation, and the right to stay safe and avoid exploitation.
Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Standard
See NCSL's 50-state compilation of reasonable and prudent parenting statutes. In response to requirements of the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act, at least 40 states and the District of Columbia specifically address reasonable and prudent parenting standards in state statute, giving foster parents the authority to make day-to-day decisions affecting children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, social or sporting activities. Florida statute further identifies factors that a caregiver is to consider when using the standard:
- The child’s age, maturity and developmental level.
- Potential risk factors and the appropriateness of the activity.
- The importance of encouraging the child’s emotional and developmental growth and providing the child with a family-like living experience.
- The behavioral history of the child.
Participation in Age and Developmentally Appropriate Activities
Some states, including California, Colorado, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota and New York, use language that addresses children’s and older youth’s right and need to participate in age and developmentally appropriate activities, in addition to, or in lieu of, the “reasonable and prudent parenting” designation. For example, California legislation states, “every child adjudged a dependent child of the juvenile court shall be entitled to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment and social activities. No state or local regulation or policy may prevent, or create barriers to, participation in those activities. Each state and local entity shall ensure that private agencies that provide foster care services to dependent children have policies consistent with this section and that those agencies promote and protect the ability of dependent children to participate in age-appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.” Colorado law states, “The general assembly finds and declares that it is important for youth in foster care, excluding those in the custody of the division of youth corrections or a state mental hospital, to have increased access to normative, developmentally appropriate extracurricular activities to help prepare them for independence.”
Florida statute (Fla. Stat. § 39.4091) provides for legislative intent and a definition of “age-appropriate: “It is the intent of the Legislature to recognize the importance of making every effort to normalize the lives of children in out-of-home care and to empower a caregiver to approve or disapprove a child’s participation in activities based on the caregiver’s own assessment using a reasonable and prudent parent standard, without prior approval of the department, the caseworker, or the court. “Age-appropriate” means activities or items that are generally accepted as suitable for children of the same chronological age or level of maturity. Age appropriateness is based on the development of cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacity that is typical for an age or age group.”
Minnesota law states that “foster parents shall make decisions about the daily living concerns of the child, and shall be permitted to continue the practice of their own family values and routines while respecting the child's cultural heritage.”
Foster Child Bill of Rights Laws
States have also required children and youth in foster care to be given an opportunity to participate in extracurricular, reasonable and age-appropriate day-to-day activities, enrichment and social activities through foster children’s bill of rights laws. For example, Arizona statute provides a foster child with the right to “attend community, school and religious services and activities of the child’s choice….” Massachusetts’ foster child bill of rights law states that a child or youth in foster care “Shall be treated as a family member and, whenever possible, be included in a foster family's activities, holidays and rituals and be able to freely discuss reason(s) with social worker and foster family if choosing to not participate.” Pennsylvania law requires that children in foster care be given the ability to live in the least restrictive, most family-like setting that is safe, healthy and comfortable and meets the child's needs.
Training of Foster Parents
Several states address training for foster parents in applying the standard. California requires training for foster parents and that the training is to “include knowledge and skills relating to the reasonable and prudent parent standard for the participation of the child in age or developmentally appropriate activities, including knowledge and skills relating to the developmental stages of the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of a child, and knowledge and skills relating to applying the standard to decisions such as whether to allow the child to engage in extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities, including sports, field trips, and overnight activities lasting one or more days, and to decisions involving the signing of permission slips and arranging of transportation for the child to and from extracurricular, enrichment, and social activities.”
New Jersey, North Dakota, Ohio and Utah statutes address liability of foster parents so that they are not responsible should anything happen to the foster child or youth during any activities for which they have given approval.
Engaging All Young People in Their Case Planning, Beginning at Age 14
The Preventing Sex Trafficking Act seeks to ensure that children age 14 and older are involved in their case plans and notified of any revisions to their case plans; the case plan is to include a description of children’s rights while in care, which includes the right to education, health, visitation and court participation. In addition to the provisions of the act, in statutes in 29 states, if the child is of an appropriate age, he or she must be included in case planning efforts. Legislation enacted in 2015 provides examples of states’ efforts to empower young people during the case planning process. California required case plans for youth 14 years of age or older in consultation with the youth and authorized each youth to choose up to two members of the case planning team. Connecticut and Oklahoma expanded the age range for case planning by requiring the department to consult with children 12 and older when developing or revising their case plans. Texas lawmakers provided that at each permanency hearing the court must review the department's efforts to ensure that the child has regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age-appropriate normalcy activities, including activities not listed in the child's service plan.
Eliminating the Use of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement
Another important provision of the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act intended to promote normalcy, and permanency, for older youth in care is that of eliminating the use of APPLA for children 16 and older. As previously explained, APPLA was meant to designate the least preferred permanency option for children for whom there is no goal for a legal, permanent family. Eliminating APPLA as a permanency goal is intended to enable caseworkers to seek better permanency alternatives, such as adoption and reunification, for such youth. In the 2016 session, Maryland mandated that another planned permanent living arrangement may be a child's permanency plan only if the child is at least a certain age; South Dakota lawmakers stated that children sixteen years or older should only be placed in another planned permanent living arrangement if other permanency plans would not be in the child’s best interest. Additionally, at each permanency hearing for the child, the court must ask the child about the desired permanency outcome for the child and make a judicial determination stating the reasons that another planned permanent living arrangement is the best permanency plan for the child. In the 2015 session, lawmakers in California prohibited “long-term foster care” and provided minors 16 years of age and older, under certain circumstances, with another planned permanent living arrangement, as specified by the court. Nevada legislators authorized an agency which provides child welfare services, that has custody of a child who is 16 years of age or older, to present evidence at a permanency hearing that there is a compelling reason for placing such a child in APPLA. Oklahoma required that, when the permanency plan for a child who is 16 years of age is continued placement in the legal custody of DHS, the court must inquire what permanency outcome the child desires and provide compelling reasons why it is not in the child’s best interest to return home or be placed for adoption.
What Can Legislators Do to Promote Normalcy?
State legislators can be critical partners working with young people in care to ensure that normalcy activities are promoted and that statutes reflect a goal of normalcy. Legislators can 1) Enact reasonable and prudent parenting standards for foster parents to make decisions for children and youth in their care. 2) Require that youth be given opportunities to participate in age and developmentally appropriate activities and experiences. 3) Ensure that young people are actively engaged in their case planning. 4) Eliminate APPLA for youth 16 and older. 5) Engage young people in discussions about their experiences in care and how prepared they are to successfully transition to adulthood.
Lawmakers can ask child welfare agency partners and judges:
- Are youth easily able to participate in these activities?
- How frequently are youth able to participate in these activities?
- What are some of the barriers in policy or state statute to allowing youth to easily participate?
- How are decisions made regarding the youth’s participation? Who makes the decisions?
- What happens when a child or youth has to switch foster care settings or schools? What arrangements can be made to continue sports or other important activities?
- Has anyone spoken directly with youth about their participation in these and other activities?
Lawmakers can ask young people:
- What extracurricular activities do you participate in?
- Are you able to participate in social, religious and community activities?
- Are you able to join siblings and other family members in activities and events?
- Do you have an afterschool job? Are you able to volunteer?
- Do you have transportation to easily get to and from your job?
- Do you have to get permission from your foster family or caseworker to participate in activities?
- What are some of the barriers you face in trying to participate in normal activities that teenagers enjoy?
Checklist of Normalcy Activities
The Foster Care Work Group and the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council identified the following “checklist” of normalcy activities, published in the report, “What Young People Need to Thrive: Leveraging the Strengthening Families Act to Promote Normalcy”. These activities are considered critical to children and youth in foster care establishing a sense of normalcy as they transition into adulthood. Legislators can help ensure that youth can participate in these activities:
- Participation in sports.
- Access to a telephone.
- Dates/outings with friends.
- Visiting movies, museums.
- Attending church.
- Traveling with other youth and adults.
- Vacations and travel.
School and Community Activities
- After-school activities/school clubs.
- Field trips, camping.
- School pictures, yearbook, prom and homecoming.
- Scouts and other service organizations.
- Participating in cultural events, community activities and volunteering.
Path to Adulthood Activities
- Reasonable curfews.
- Getting a driver’s license.
- Getting a job, getting an allowance, doing chores, learning to cook.
- Establishing and maintaining good physical and mental health.
- Financial literacy.
- Education on drug and alcohol issues.
- Healthy relationships and sexuality.
- Knowledge about available resources, the legal system, and rights and responsibilities.
- Leadership development.
- The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago, Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth, 2011
- Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, What Young People Need to Thrive, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2015:
- Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative, Preparing for the Road Ahead: Helping Young People Transition from Foster Care to Adulthood, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2016
- Case Planning for Families Involved with Child Welfare Agencies, Child Welfare Information Gateway, April 2014
State Tuition Waivers and Other Support for Higher Education
See NCSL's state tuition waivers chart for legislation, age limits, eligibility and other requirements.
Children and youth in foster care are at risk of poorer educational outcomes than their peers who are not in care.
Barriers to elementary and secondary school educational success include multiple school changes, educational inconsistency, poor communication among schools, caseworkers and students, and delays in school enrollment.
Students in foster care who have fared poorly in elementary, middle and high school struggle with college degree attainment. Studies indicate that only 20 percent of youth in foster care attend college, compared to 60 percent of their peers. Of those who do attend, only 5 percent complete a degree, compared to 20 percent of their peers. Among the reasons cited for youth in care’s lack of college success are:
- Low high school academic achievement.
- Lack of high expectations for attending and succeeding at college.
- Not understanding available opportunities.
- Lack of skills and adult support necessary to navigate the complex college application process.
- Lack of financial assistance for applying to college and paying for tuition and room and board.
- Youth in care that are parenting young children experience additional hardship as they work to manage school responsibilities and child-rearing.
Experts agree that college and post-secondary vocational training is an important milestone for youth who have aged out of foster care. According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, young people with a college degree earn significantly more than those without. In 1973, 72 percent of employment opportunities required a high school diploma or less. In 2020, it is projected that only 35 percent of jobs will require a high school diploma or less; 65 percent will require an associate’s, bachelor's or master’s degree or higher.
Barriers to College Completion for Youth in Foster Care
Youth in foster care often face a series of barriers to entering and successfully completing post-secondary education. A recent Government Accountability (GAO) report on higher education for youth in foster care and homeless youth discussed those barriers based on interviews with youth, and administrators and staff of education, child welfare and homeless services and organizations:
- Limited and weak academic preparation/foundations: Frequent moves in schooling and from one foster home to another often leaves many youth unprepared for entrance into college and college completion. Foster youth have higher absentee rates and lower rates of high school completion than their peers. These young people may also score lower on high school standardized tests and college entrance exams, making it difficult for them to enter college. Once in college, students may not be prepared for the academic rigor of college courses and may not complete college. Some students must use their financial aid for remedial courses which may also cause them to drop out once they run out of funding.
- Limited family support: Without a family or other support system to provide young people with guidance and advice throughout their elementary and secondary school years, students may not understand the importance of obtaining a college degree for their future success, may not have access to tutoring and mentoring to improve grades, may not have enrolled in college prep or other required classes, and may lack access to consistent school and career counseling that would guide them to a more direct path to college. They may experience great difficulty navigating the complexities of applying for college and financial aid. Additionally, high school counselors may not understand the unique and complex needs and issues of young people in foster care who are transitioning to college. Child welfare caseworkers may be consumed with helping youth transition to adulthood and may not have the time nor expertise to help students navigate the college admission and financial aid process. Students often struggle to complete classes, and in addition, may be faced with no family to stay with during vacations and school breaks and no other housing alternatives. Students also lack the emotional and social support a family or other network can provide, and feel isolated and lonely on campus.
- Financial challenges: Ninety-five percent of youth in foster care enrolled in college earn less than $25,000 per year, making it extremely difficult to pay for college application fees (students may be unaware of entrance fee waivers for former youth in care), entrance exams, and transcript costs. Federal grants rarely cover the full cost of tuition, room and board, books and living expenses forcing students to take out costly student loans to cover remaining expenses. Once in college, youth in care often need to work full-time, multiple jobs while attending college part-time, eventually causing them to drop out of college prior to completion. Affordable housing, especially during school breaks, is another hurdle that can be difficult for former foster youth to surmount.
- Limited awareness of federal and other resources: Lacking a strong family support network, or informed and knowledgeable caseworkers, former foster youth applying to and enrolling in college may not be aware of Chafee Education and Training Vouchers (described below), federal Pell grants, state tuition waivers, application and entrance exam fee waivers, and other important state and federal financial aid for which they might qualify. There are currently limited on-line resources specifically aimed at youth in or transitioning out of foster care to guide them through the college planning, application and financial aid/scholarship processes. There is information from the U.S. Department of Education that is currently primarily targeted at policymakers and practitioners; there is also a Chaffee ETV website for youth in care.
- Age eligibility requirements: Based on available funds and youth need(s), foster youth and former foster youth may receive up to $5,000 a year for college or vocational training to cover the costs of tuition, books and qualified living expenses. Students receiving funds prior to their 21st birthday may continue to receive ETV support until they turn 23 years old. Youth are often unaware of this funding until after they turn 21. Additionally, since foster youth often begin college later than other students and past the age eligibility requirement (due to difficulty in completing high school, applying for college and obtaining employment or funding to pay for college), they may not take advantage of this key funding source.
Bridging the Gap
Studies indicate that young people transitioning out of foster care want to succeed and want to attend college to improve their chances at successfully transitioning into adulthood. To assist them in their efforts and to address the challenges they will face, federal, state and local jurisdictions are partnering with youth to develop ways to bridge the gap between youths’ desire to succeed and the realities of an educational system that is often difficult to navigate for all students. This includes improving educational stability in junior high and high school; encouraging and mentoring young people so that they understand the importance of attaining a college degree; assisting students through the college selection, application, admissions and financial aid process; providing adequate preparation for college academics and living independently and, continuing to closely support students throughout their college experience so that they can graduate.
Federal Framework for Support for Higher Education for Youth in Foster Care
There are several important sources of federal funding and programming to support the higher education goals of youth in foster care.
John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and ETV Vouchers
The federal John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) helps youth currently or formerly in foster care to achieve self-sufficiency, which includes help with education. The Educational and Training Vouchers Program (ETV) for Youths Aging Out of Foster Care was added to the CFCIP in 2002 to meet the needs for training and education for youth who are aging out of foster care. As mentioned earlier, the ETV Program offers funds to states and tribes in the form of vouchers of up to $5,000 per year for college or vocational training to cover the costs of tuition, books and qualified living expenses for:
- Youth who are likely to remain in foster care until age 18.
- Youth who were adopted or under kinship guardianship at age 16 or older.
- Young adults ages 18-21 who have aged out of the foster care system.
Students receiving funds before their 21st birthday may continue to receive ETV support until they turn 23 years old if they are enrolled in a postsecondary education or training program and are making satisfactory progress.
Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, H.R. 4137
Federal college preparation and support programs, including the Federal TRIO (not an acronym) programs that support at-risk junior and high school students to prepare to graduate from high school and successfully enter and complete college, must now:
- Require TRIO program applicants to identify homeless or foster youth and offer services.
- Allow TRIO programs to help homeless or foster youth with housing during college breaks.
The U.S. Department of Education must work with organizations that provide services to homeless or foster youth to develop a public awareness campaign on the availability of financial aid under the Act. The U.S. Department of Education must also provide grants to colleges to provide services and housing to homeless and foster youth.
College Cost Reduction and Access Act, H.S. 2669
The federal College Cost Reduction and Access Act, H.S. 2669, revised the definition of “independent student” (a student who does not have to count parental income to determine eligibility for financial aid) to include youth in foster care on or after their 13th birthday, even if they were since adopted.
State Actions: State Tuition Waiver Programs
See NCSL's state tuition waivers chart for legislation, age limits, eligibility and other requirements.
Recommendations to support the educational success of young people transitioning out of foster care who are attending higher education institutions include waiving tuition and scholarships and offering on-campus support and mentors.
State tuition waivers act as an important incentive to youth in foster care and contribute to their overall ability to pay for college. State tuition waiver programs allow students to attend publicly funded higher education institutions by “waiving” tuition and fees such as room, board, books, etc. under certain criteria. The waiver may cover in-state only public institutions, community colleges or out-of-state colleges. The waivers may provide a reduced rate or cover the full tuition and fees; some states offer a set amount. Each state’s policy differs somewhat on eligibility criteria, funding and administrative mechanisms, but most cover the difference between the student’s tuition and fees and the amount of federal and financial aid the student receives for in-state programs. Many state waiver programs include requirements such as personal asset limits, good academic standing, age limits, or citizenship status. State lawmakers would want to carefully consider age limits as many youths formerly in foster care start college at a later age than students that have not been in foster care. Most programs require students to be current or former foster youth; states have also added youth in kinship care, legal guardianship, and/or adopted youth.
Currently, at least 22 states allow tuition waivers through state statute or state administrative rule or regulation. Nine states offer scholarship programs. See below for a 50-state chart.
State Support of Post-Secondary Education for Youth Transitioning from Foster Care
State tuition waiver programs allow students to attend publicly funded higher education institutions by “waiving” tuition and fees such as room, board, books, etc. under certain criteria. The waiver may cover in-state only public institutions, community colleges, or out-of-state colleges. The waivers may provide a reduced rate or cover the full tuition and fees; some states offer a set amount. Each state’s policy differs somewhat on eligibility criteria, funding and administrative mechanisms, but most cover the difference between the student’s tuition and fees and the amount of federal and financial aid the student receives for in-state programs.
Twenty-two states use tuition waivers to support young people transitioning from foster care. The states are Alaska, Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, Washington and West Virginia.
Grants & Scholarships
Nine states offer grants or scholarships to youth aging out of foster care. The states are Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.
Most states require students to be in a foster care placement, a resident of the state, a high school graduate or have a General Education Diploma (GED), and to maintain good academic standing while enrolled in a post-secondary institution. Some states also require students to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, exhaust all other financial aid and perform community service.
Most states set age limitations, which also vary by state. Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire, and New Jersey provide assistance up to age 23. Alaska, Minnesota and Missouri set their age limit at 21. Florida’s age limit is 28. Michigan expressly has no maximum age limit.
Use of Funding
Most state financial support is for tuition and fees; however, at least 19 states may provide support for room and board, books and supplies, tutoring, meals, transportation, supplies, equipment, childcare, transportation or other approved expenses. In addition, Illinois (outreach program to ensure eligible high school students are aware of the tuition waiver) and New York (summer college preparation programs to prepare foster youth for the transition to college, help them navigate on-campus systems and provide reading, writing and math prep or advising, tutoring and other academic assistance) provide support for students beginning in high school.
Research has shown that youth formerly in foster care need additional support beyond the financial assistance provided by state tuition waiver programs. States with tuition waivers offer a variety of supports to ensure that students will be able to successfully complete their college education. Following are several examples.
- Florida’s Tallahassee Community College Fostering Achievement Fellowship (FAF): FAF offers a comprehensive support structure to assist youth who are aging out of the foster care system. The program provides mentoring and support, adult mentors and role models, life skills training, financial support for foster care youth through completion of a diploma or degree at Tallahassee Community College.
- North Carolina Postsecondary Education Support Scholarship Program (NC Reach): NC Reach, which is available to youth who are legal residents of North Carolina and adopted from foster care after their 12th birthday or who aged out of foster care at age 18 (youth are eligible until their 26th birthday), pays for foster youth to attend any branch of the University of North Carolina or any community college. Program coordinators work directly with scholarship recipients to help them navigate college and connect with local resources. Trained adult volunteer mentors provide advice, encouragement, and a “listening ear” to help prepare students for the workforce. Seminars and workshops help strengthen academic abilities, develop financial savvy, improve workforce readiness, and build life skills. Career readiness activities teach students how to apply for internships and jobs with businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies. Texas and Ohio have similar Reach programs.
- Virginia Great Expectations Program: Great Expectations launched in fall 2008 at five Virginia Community Colleges, each of which received a grant to pilot components of the program. Since then, the program has continued to expand to other community colleges across the state. Great Expectations helps Virginia’s foster youth complete high school, gain access to a community college education and transition successfully from the foster care system to living independently. The program includes individualized tutoring, assistance in the college admission and financial aid process, career coaching, life skills training, personal counseling, and help applying for and retaining employment.
Other Support for Higher Education for Youth Formerly in Foster Care
In addition to state tuition waivers, states have developed programs to improve high school graduation rates, encourage youth in foster care to apply for college, provide scholarships, and offer assistance and mentoring to former foster youth once enrolled in college. Visit NCSL’s Child Welfare Enactments Database to view all state legislation. Following are several examples of states’ efforts.
- Delaware: A 2010 Delaware law allowed children leaving foster care access to the Student Excellence Equals Degree (SEED) program scholarships for students attending Delaware Technical and Community College. The law allowed these children to access the scholarships without meeting the previous law’s requirements that they begin their higher education immediately after high school. Instead, anyone who qualifies for this scholarship must make steady academic progress toward an associate’s degree and will not be eligible to receive grants if he or she does not begin higher education before age 25 or takes longer than five years to attain an associate’s degree.
- Indiana: A 2009 Indiana law required a foster child’s caseworker to provide information to the child concerning specified scholarship programs, including Chafee grants and federal supplemental grants. The law established eligibility requirements for foster youth to apply to a scholars’ program and to receive higher education benefits.
- Michigan: Fostering Success Michigan is a statewide network that aims to increase college-going rates and successful career transitions among Michigan's youth and alumni of foster care. Strategies used include campus support programs and assistance with financial aid and the college application process.
- Washington: Foster Care to College Partnership (FCTCP) was a three-year foundation effort (2006-2009) that consisted of a consortium of agencies and nonprofit organizations that worked to improve high school graduation and college enrollment rates among foster youth in Washington. FCTCP activities were designed to:
- Deliver curriculum-based college preparation seminars targeting foster youth and their caregivers.
- Disseminate information to foster youth, parents and caseworkers to encourage post-secondary participation and provide information on resources to help pay for college.
- Provide a four-day college preparation summer program for foster youth prior to graduation.
- Expand a regional foster youth mentoring program for foster students throughout the state.
- An evaluation of the program indicated that: “…compared to similar youth in foster care, foster students who participated in FCTCP programs were significantly more likely to graduate from high school and attend the first year of college. While high school completion and college enrollment rates for this population are still low, this research shows that these programs hold promise in improving the educational outcomes for youth in foster care.”
- Washington: During the three-year implementation of the FCTCP, an additional effort was developed to improve the higher education outcomes for youth formerly in foster care. The Passport to College Promise: College Assistance and Support for Former Foster Youth provides supplemental scholarship and student assistance for Washington students who are in foster care. The program is designed to increase outreach, to make youth in foster care aware of available higher education opportunities, and to teach them how to apply to college and obtain financial aid. It also provides incentive grants for public colleges to enroll, support and graduate students who come from foster care. The Passport consists of three components:
- Pre-college preparation provided to high school-age foster youth (14-18) by six regional non-governmental agencies.
- A scholarship (up to $3,000 per year to pay for tuition and other costs) for former foster youth attending eligible in-state schools.
- Academic and support services from designated support staff at participating colleges. Washington is one of only a few states that provide these kinds of “wraparound” services in addition to financial aid for former foster youth attending college.
Moving Forward: Considerations for Legislators
State lawmakers can consider including the following important program components when designing initiatives to help former foster youth pursue their dreams of post-secondary education:
- Skill-building and tutoring to assist young people to successfully enter college.
- Mentoring and other programs to connect young people with adults to provide support and guidance as they pursue their dreams of higher education.
- Academic counseling and introduction to college.
- Career counseling.
- Financial counseling.
- Financial resources to pay for books and school supplies.
- Housing during and between semesters.
- NCSL Educating Youth in Foster Care: State Legislation 2008-2015, Updated October 2016
- State Level Tuition Assistance Programs for Foster Youth in Post-Secondary Education, Education Commission to the State, March 2017
- Youth in Transition Tool Kit, U.S. Department of Education, May 2016
- State Tuition Waiver Programs and Education Training Vouchers for Youth in Foster Care, Children’s Bureau, November 2015
- Supporting Youth Transitioning Out of Foster Care: Issue Brief 1: Education Programs, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, December 2014
- Other States’ Post-Secondary Educational Assistance for Former Foster Children, Connecticut Office of Legislative Research, 2013
- GAO Higher Education: Actions Needed to Improve Access to Federal Financial Assistance for Homeless and Foster Youth, May 2016
- Casey Family Programs, National Post-Secondary Support Map
- Helping Former Foster Youth Graduate from College: Campus Support Programs in California and Washington State, Chapin Hall, 2009
State Efforts to Provide Housing for Youth Transitioning out of Foster Care
“A minor error cost me my housing eligibility during my junior year of college. With a little bit of help, I would have been able to live safely on campus. Instead, I had to couch surf and resort to temporary housing at places that were not the most stable. This caused me avoidable confusion and anxiety when I should’ve been more focused on my studies.”
—Keola Limkin, Hawaii (President of HI HOPES Youth Leadership)
Nationally, there are approximately 427,000 children in foster care on any given day, with nearly a quarter age 14 or older. Just over 18,000 young people age out of foster care at age 18 each year, with no permanent attachment to a family member or other caring adult, putting them at increased risk for a range of negative outcomes, including homelessness. A recent study indicates that by age 26, 36 percent of those youths will have experienced at least one night of homelessness.
Federal law defines homelessness as:
- Lacking a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence.
- Residing in a primary nighttime residence that is not designed for ordinary use as regular sleeping accommodation.
- Staying in a public or privately operated shelter.
- The imminent loss of housing without a new residence identified or the resources necessary to obtain permanent housing.
The definition of homelessness includes “couch surfing” in which youth aging out of foster care may temporarily sleep on friends’ or relatives’ couches as they are unable to find permanent housing.
How Do Young People Aging Out of Foster Care Become Homeless?
Youths’ history of child abuse or neglect and their experiences in foster care increase their risk of homelessness. Studies indicate several factors associated with increased homelessness:
- At least one episode of running away from foster care.
- Multiple placement changes.
- Being male.
- Physical abuse prior to entry into foster care.
- Engaged in more delinquent behavior.
- Mental health disorder.
In addition, as youth transition out of the foster care system, they often do not have steady incomes, stable credit or rental histories, bank accounts and references, or the knowledge to negotiate leases with prospective landlords, making it very difficult for young people to obtain housing. A shortage of affordable housing, being young parents, having no adults to help navigate this process and/or having a criminal record makes an already difficult search for housing nearly impossible.
Homeless Youth at Risk
Youth who age out and become homeless are at increased risk of:
- Lack of access to health care services.
- Mental health problems.
- Physical or sexual victimization, including sex trafficking.
Additionally, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, from foster care, are prevalent in the homeless population, and once homeless, experience higher rates of physical and sexual violence.
Young people who can access and maintain stable housing are better able to:
- Stay in school.
- Maintain employment.
- Access services, including mental and physical health services
Barriers to Adequate Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
In addition to young people’s foster care experiences, lack of income, credit history and financial savvy, and lack of an adult support network, various systems and policies meant to aid youth as they transition from care often pose difficulties for youth seeking housing. These can include a shortage of affordable housing; a lack of coordination of services among child welfare agencies, housing agencies and community service providers; long waiting lists for public housing; time limits and other restrictions and barriers that prevent full use of available federal and state supports for older youth transitioning out of care.
Housing and College
For youth attempting to pursue higher education, homelessness and unstable housing are particularly difficult. High school guidance counselors may be unfamiliar with difficulties faced by youth in care, such as a lack of an adult support network to provide advice and guidance to young people yearning to complete a college education and as simple as not having a permanent address to place on a college application. Child welfare caseworkers may not be fully aware of the complex requirements of the college application and funding process, especially given some of the unique challenges facing older youth transitioning out of foster care. These young people take on the added burden and stress of searching for housing while trying to make important decisions about their futures, such as applying for college. In fact, many young people end up not applying for college for fear of not being able to pay for housing.
Once in college, they may struggle to work multiple jobs to pay for college tuition costs, fees, groceries and housing. Scholarships and grants for which they may be eligible often do not cover the full costs of college which includes housing, resulting in youth being unable to complete college. Youth may have trouble finding housing during college breaks since dorms are often closed during holidays and in the summer.
Federal, state and local officials, advocates, youth, foster parents and others continue to work to address young people’s housing needs as they transition from foster care. While federal legislation provides major funding and a framework of support for transitioning youth, state and local innovations are critical to identifying state resources and gaps in services and developing creative partnerships to prevent homelessness among this vulnerable population.
Several key pieces of federal legislation provide important supports for older youth transitioning from foster care.
John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program and ETV Vouchers
The federal John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) offers assistance to help youth currently or formerly in foster care youths by providing housing, financial, employment, education, and other support services to youth who left foster care at 18 but have yet to turn 21.
The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001
The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments amended the Chafee Program to extend support services to youth to age 23 if the youth is enrolled in a program of higher education.
The Fostering Connections Act of 2008
The Fostering Connections Act offers states an incredible opportunity to assist youth in care and transitioning from care.
Extending foster care up to age 21: The Fostering Connections Act extended age eligibility for reimbursement for Title IV-E funding for foster care for youth from age 18 up to age 21 as long as the young person is enrolled in school, working at least 80 hours per month, is engaged in activities to promote employment and remove barriers to employment, or has a medical condition that precludes any of the above requirements. Currently, at least 24 states have extended foster care beyond age 18.
Supervised independent living settings: Youth can benefit from the additional years in foster care which include housing and transition planning to prepare them for adulthood. Specifically, the act requires that eligible children age 18 or older be placed in a licensed foster family home, childcare institution or supervised setting in which the individual is living independently. These placements are also known as “supervised independent living settings.” States are encouraged to develop a range of such services that may include host homes, college dormitories, shared housing, semi-supervised apartments, supervised apartments or other housing arrangements that meet the supervised setting requirement when paired with a supervising agency or supervising worker. States may make direct payments to young people to support their housing needs in a variety of such settings, and these payments are Title IV-E eligible.
Transition planning: The act also required transition planning for youth during the 90 days prior to the youth’s 18th birthday. The transition planning is to include assistance and support in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child, includes specific options on housing as well as health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and workforce supports and employment services, and is as detailed as the child may elect.
Youth Housing Voucher Program
The Family Unification Program (FUP) is a specific housing choice voucher program for youth between 18 and 21 years old who left the foster care system at age 16 or older and who lack adequate housing. This program is limited to certain communities and there are a small number of vouchers available.
Public Housing and Section 8 Choice Voucher Program
Youth aging out of foster care might be eligible for three other housing assistance programs, even though these programs were not created specifically for youth—the Public Housing Program, Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program and privately owned subsidized housing programs. The Public Housing Program allows residents to pay rent equivalent to 30 percent of their adjusted gross income. Section 8 Housing Vouchers recipients rent apartments from the private housing markets and also pay 30 percent of their adjusted gross income in rent. Privately owned subsidized apartments are also available, but the vouchers are for the individual apartments as opposed to the Public Housing and Section 8 Programs where the vouchers follow the tenants.
Transitional Living Program (TLP)
The Transitional Living Program provides homeless youth with long-term housing designed to assist young people to successfully transition to adulthood, and supportive services, including counseling, money management, parenting, educational advancement, and job attainment skills.
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA)
The Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA), administered by the Family and Youth Services Bureau, part of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The RHYA, as currently amended, authorizes federal funding for three programs—the Basic Center Program, Transitional Living Program, and Street Outreach Program—to assist runaway and homeless youth which can include youth in foster care.
State Efforts to Support the Housing Needs of Transitioning Youth
State lawmakers have been key partners in enacting legislative policy to assist young people in their efforts to successfully transition to adulthood. This includes transitional living programs and transitional living services and, most recently, extending foster care up to age 21 in 24 states thus far, and requiring transition planning for older youth in foster care. Legislators have also enacted Foster Children’s Bill of Rights legislation (California and Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas list participation in independent living services or other transition planning or life skills training, which would likely include addressing housing needs, as a right).
Below are examples of state legislation and state programs and policies related to the housing needs of young people transitioning out of foster care.
In 1993 California lawmakers created an option for foster youth 17 years of age or older and in their last year of high school to live in transitional housing. Youth were also allowed to live in apartments or houses with close monitoring and supervision from the county or from a private agency. In 2001, the Supportive Transitional Emancipation Program (STEP) was created which allowed counties to provide monthly financial support to emancipated foster youth attending school or working toward goals outlined in their plans. The legislation also encouraged service providers to create or expand housing programs for current and former foster youth. In 2009, legislators required youth to receive priority housing on college campuses.
In 2002, Colorado lawmakers enacted the Homeless Youth Services Act (Colorado Revised Statues 24-32-723) in response to the needs of homeless youth in the state. The legislation required various agencies across the state to collaborate to identify gaps in services, remove barriers, improve youth’s access to programs, provide more effective services and share information. In 2004, a Homeless Youth Coordinator position and an Advisory Committee for Homeless Youth was formed. The Advisory Committee was to consist of a wide variety of stakeholders including current and formerly homeless youth. The Coordinator and Advisory Committee were to develop and implement a Statewide Homeless Youth Action Plan. The office currently sits in the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, Division of Housing, and seeks to:
- Identify and remove obstacles to the provision of services to homeless youth.
- Improve the quality of services provided to homeless youth.
- Reduce needless expenditures caused by the provision of overlapping services.
- Identify funding resources available to entities serving homeless youth.
Indiana’s The Villages offers community-based, life-skills training, GED and additional education programs, employment opportunities and other services to transitioning youth. Youth have access to scattered-site apartments, 24-hour case management, counseling and support groups and services for transitional youth with children. Many participants qualify for six months of support after completing the program. Most young people completing the program successfully become self-sufficient.
In 2016, Louisiana lawmakers enacted House Bill 906 which required each public post-secondary education institute to designate a homeless and foster student liaison and authorized the institutions to provide assistance with residency status and housing.
New York City
Because of an October 2011 class-action lawsuit brought on by the Legal Aid Society and Lawyers for Children, the New York City Administration for Children’s Services was required to create programs to support the housing needs of youth aging out of foster care. Program requirements include:
- Tracking foster youth progress prior to discharge.
- Independent life skills training.
- Assistance in securing stable housing.
- Continued monitoring and access to services to discharged youth up to the age of 21.
- Housing Collaborative Academy, a five-session educational program on housing for transitioning youth.
In 2015, Texas lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 1117 to address the fact that “despite requirements that the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) provide transitional living services to foster care children 14 years and older, homelessness remains an issue among youth who age out of the foster care system. Transitional living services include housing services, but vague statutory language makes it difficult for DFPS to prioritize and collect needed information to ensure the youth's housing needs are considered and met.”
The legislation requires DFPS to ensure that the transition plan for youth 16 years of age or older includes provisions to assist the youth in meeting the youth’s housing needs after leaving foster care, including the cost of housing in relation to youth's income; the youth's housing goals; typical rental applications and required documentation; and persons who are able to cosign or serve as references for a housing application. The legislation also requires DFPS to inform youth about supervised independent living and college housing, including dormitories. DFPS is to review a common rental application with youth.
In 2015, Washington legislators enacted House Bill 1436 to create an Office of Homeless Youth Programs within the Department of Commerce. The office is to lead efforts to coordinate a spectrum of funding, policy, and practice efforts related to homeless youth with a focus on four service priorities:
- Stable housing.
- Education and employment.
- Permanent connections.
- Social and emotional well-being.
Strategies for Legislative Consideration
Experts recommend the following actions to assist youth transitioning from foster care to meet their housing needs:
- Help youth to develop a concrete housing plan prior to aging out of care.
- Help the child welfare agency to define supervised independent living services and then help develop an array of housing options, including options for youth exiting foster care after 21, such as young parents.
- Provide youth with opportunities to build financial assets.
- Provide housing assistance that includes hands-on housing search strategies.
- Develop effective transitional living programs for young people aging out of care that include teaching young people how to keep and maintain housing.
- Ensure that youth who want to attend college understand the tuition and fee waivers and scholarships that are available specifically for youth formerly in foster care and that might help with housing costs.
- Assist foster youth attending college to obtain housing during college breaks.
- Train caseworkers on the housing options available to transitioning youth.
- Allow foster youth to live in housing placements that include their biological and foster siblings.
- Allow exemptions to deadlines and requirements that may be difficult for youth transitioning out of foster care to meet.
- Ensure that supplemental housing subsidies are adequate to cover the cost of current rent prices and reflect inflation and increases in the cost of living.
- Creating state and community partnerships among community organizations, the child welfare agency, state/local housing authorities that can pool apartment rental subsidy programs and coordinate other types of resources from housing programs to prioritize youth transitioning from foster care.
- Develop resources to provide immediate housing and services for youth in crisis.
- Partner with landlords and other housing providers including continuum of care networks and public housing authorities.
- Family and Youth Homeless Information Memorandum, ACYF-CB-IM-17-03, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, January, 2017
- Working with Youth to Develop a Transition Plan, Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2013
- Midwest Evaluation of the Adult Functioning of Former Foster Youth: Outcomes at Age 26, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, 2011
- Homelessness During the Transition from Foster Care to Adulthood, Amy Dworsky, Laura Napolitano, Mark Courtney, Research and Practice, American Journal of Public Health, Supplement 2, 2013, Vol. 103, No. 52
- Aged Out/Cast Out: Solutions for Housing Instability for Aging Out Foster Youth in New York, July 2016
- Predictors of Homelessness During the Transition from Foster Care to Adulthood, Chapin Hall, 2011
- Housing for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, May 2014
- Housing Assistance for Youth Who Have Aged Out of Foster Care: The Role of the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, May 2012
- National Governor’s Association (NGA) in its How States Can Support Older Youth in Foster Care
- Foster Care Transition ToolKit from the U.S. Department of Education, May 2016
- FosterClub’s Transition Toolkit provides youth with a step-by-step process for thinking about leaving care and provides transition plan templates. The guide is centered on 10 critical areas: finances, employment, life skills, identity, permanence, education, health, housing, transportation, and community.
- Represent, Special Issue: Nowhere to Go: Our Stories of Homelessness, Youth Communication, 2013
Legislators and Youth in Foster Care: Partners in Child Welfare System Reform
“Young people must be present and involved. We have insights that can help shape policy and practice decisions that will truly make life better for us and the thousands of other young people who, through no fault of their own, find themselves in foster care. When youths advocate for issues we care about, we put pressure on decision-makers to enact policies that will set us up for success. Because of our experience, we know what would’ve made it easier to navigate life as a young person in foster care. Our voices must be heard.” Krystal Goolsby, New Mexico (Youth Advocate Fellow at New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks (NMCAN)
Youth and Policymakers Working Together
State legislators and youth in care, or formerly in care, are key partners in addressing issues facing young people aging out of foster care. State legislators are responsible for crafting and funding legislation that supports and strengthens vulnerable children and families. They are held accountable for oversight of child welfare systems and work to ensure that the needs of child welfare system-involved families are met. Lawmakers also engage key child welfare system stakeholders—including the child welfare agency, the judicial system, youth currently or formerly in care, health and mental health, education, law enforcement, service providers, foster parents and others—in order to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to support families. State lawmakers are keenly interested in working with young people in state foster care systems; they want to understand the impact that current policy has on children and youth in care, and they want to make certain that new policy proposals are effective and lead to improved results.
In turn, youth involved in state child welfare systems want to ensure that their voices are heard. They believe that their experiences can benefit other children and youth and improve long-term outcomes for thousands of young people as they transition out of foster care into adulthood. Youth, often working through youth advisory boards or similar entities, have been instrumental in promoting state legislation to support older youth in care, including laws to:
- Extend foster care beyond age 18.
- Create foster children’s bills of rights.
- Establish youth advisory boards.
- Mandate normalcy policies so that young people can engage in developmentally appropriate activities.
- Provide important supports for post-secondary educational opportunities.
- Involve young people in their case and transition planning.
Foster Youth Legislative Shadow Programs
California Youth in Action Legislator Shadow Day
Lawmakers in California get to partner with youth in care in a Legislator Shadow Day. Young people get to develop relationships with their state lawmakers and better understand how legislation is enacted.
Illinois Legislative Shadow Day
Illinois hosted its first Foster Youth Shadow Day in August of 2016. Foster youth were paired with state lawmakers to learn about policymaking. The youth shared their experiences in foster care with state legislators. State lawmakers, in turn, mentored youth and taught them about the legislative process. The day is modeled after the annual Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program held in Washington, D.C. in May.
Maryland Foster Youth Day in Annapolis
Maryland legislators hosted their first Foster Youth Day in Annapolis in March of 2017. Legislators invited foster youth to attend hearings, shadow them throughout the day and learn more about the legislative process.
New York City Foster Youth Shadow Day
New York City hosted its first Foster Youth Shadow Day in October 2015. City council members learned about young people’s experiences in foster care while youth learned about the legislative process and discussed foster care policy.
Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program
The Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program takes place each May in Washington, D.C. The youth participate in a two-day Young Leaders Training Academy, a series of trainings on federal foster care policy, strategizing and team building. The training sessions are followed by a day-long shadow activity with the youth’s congressional representatives and White House officials. Youth get to experience policymaking firsthand and lawmakers get to hear from youth about the potential impact of policies they might be considering. Foster youth interested in participating must fill out an application form. The Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program is sponsored by the Congressional Caucus on Foster Youth, the National Foster Youth Institute, FosterClub, Casey Family Programs, Foster Care Alumni of America, Foster Youth in Action and Youth Villages.
For Legislators: How Can Legislators Better Engage Youth? Ask the Right Questions
“It’s important for young people to visit state officials and work with legislators to see how and why decisions are made. By experiencing this first hand, we become better advocates and can better influence changes that will make a real difference in the lives of young people in foster care.”
—Krystal Goolsby, New Mexico (Youth Advocate Fellow at New Mexico Child Advocacy Networks (NMCAN)
How can legislators be sure that the policies they craft for children and families actually benefit children and youth in care? How can they learn if existing policies may actually be barriers to the success of young people transitioning out of foster care?
In addition to requesting important data and program results from state child welfare agencies and stakeholders, legislators can ask older youth about their experiences in foster care. Whether meeting with individual young people, or working with larger youth advisory groups or similar bodies, legislators can ask questions to get answers beyond what is found in data and program results.
Questions lawmakers can ask youth who are currently in, or have aged out, of foster care, can include:
- What worked, or is working, for you in the child welfare system?
- What did not work?
- What were, or are, the barriers in the system that may have hindered your success?
- What was your transition plan? How did that process work? What did not work? Who was involved in helping you to create your transition plan?
- What kinds of services were offered to you as part of your transition plan? Were they effective?
- Where did you live during your transition plan period? Were you ever homeless?
- Did you finish high school? If so, what help did you receive to stay on course? If not, what types of services or programs would have been beneficial?
- Do you want to go on to get a post-secondary degree or other training? In what field? Do you believe you are getting adequate assistance to pursue a postsecondary degree or other training? What type of assistance or program would be most effective?
- (If applicable in your state) Did you know about the option to stay in care beyond age 18? Did you opt to do so? Why or why not? What types of services would be most helpful to you if you decided to stay in care beyond 18?
- Who played the most significant, positive role for you while you were in care?
- What would you do to change the child welfare system to help children and youth?
See NCSL’s Checklists for Legislators for more ideas.
For Youth: How Can Youth Better Engage State Legislators? Get Their Attention
Get to Know Legislators and Legislative Staff
Legislators are ordinary citizens and, in many states, legislators have full-time careers in addition to their duties as state lawmakers. Many are members of multiple committees, in addition to sitting on human services or child welfare-related committees. They may be asked to review and/or vote on dozens or even hundreds of bills. They are also responsible for responding to inquiries and concerns from citizens residing in their districts. Don’t forget to include legislative staff in your outreach. Staff often remain in the legislature for many years, providing invaluable institutional memory and insight. Staff research other states’ initiatives, review complex program and implementation information, analyze state policy trends, and develop legislative language for bills.
Legislators Want to Know What Works
Legislators have come to rely upon evidence-based research to assist them in making decisions about supporting programs for vulnerable children and families. Legislators want to know what works, how much programs cost, and what, if any, are cost-benefits. Lawmakers also want to be presented with a discussion of the various options and they want to understand the complexities of an issue including arguments for and against the policy or program so that they can make an informed decision.
Presenting Information to Legislators
When presenting written information to legislators:
- Keep it short—a one-page summary is best.
- Provide a three--pager and/or a longer report for legislative staff.
- Do not use jargon or technical terms.
- Explain policy implications.
- Use clear graphics, easy to understand data and bulleted lists.
- Highlight personal stories.
Legislators Want to Know What Works
- Legislators want to know what research says about what works, the costs, and the pros and cons.
- Research should be unbiased, practical and responsive to legislators’ needs
- Personal, face-to-face contact is critical when presenting information to lawmakers.
- Legislators generally have only a few minutes to discuss a bill with a colleague.
(Source: Child Trends, How to Share Research about Children and Families with Policymakers, October 2016)
See NCSL’s Checklists for Youth for more ideas.
Agency Policy Review and Revision
State legislators, youth, child welfare agencies and other stakeholders can review policies to ensure that decision-making for all children and families involved in state child welfare systems is racially equitable.
According to Disproportionality in Child Welfare, researcher Dennette Derozotes identified four steps that child welfare agencies can consider when reviewing their practices:
- Pay attention to agency cultural competence assessment, training, and technical assistance.
- Develop a way to measure racial equity in agency programs and outcomes.
- Identify and track agency goals by racial and ethnic groups.
- Examine racially sensitive monitoring structures to identify practices that will better serve the needs of children and families.
(Source: USDHHS, Disproportionality in Child Welfare, 2011, Child Welfare Information Gateway)
Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide with Legislators
The overrepresentation of African-American and Native American children in the child welfare system is a troubling and complex phenomenon. Thirty-three percent of kids in foster care are African-American, but they make up only 15 percent of the child population. While the first three National Incidence Studies (NIS) of child maltreatment indicated that there was no relationship between race and the incidence of maltreatment, the most recent NIS-4 finds that African-American children experience higher rates of maltreatment than white children in several categories.
States have been implementing a variety of strategies to determine the incidence of disproportionality and identify appropriate remedies. State lawmakers and youth can examine the issue through the use of the Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide, which recommends the following steps to help jurisdictions in their analysis of racial equity:
- Establish an understanding of race equity and inclusion principles.
- Engage affected populations and stakeholders.
- Gather and analyze disaggregated data.
- Conduct systems analysis of root causes of inequities.
- Identify strategies and target resources to address root causes of inequities.
- Conduct race equity impact assessment for all policies and decision-making.
- Continuously evaluate effectiveness and adapt strategies.
(Source: Race Equity and Inclusion Action Guide: 7 Steps to Advance and Embed Race Equity and Inclusion within Your Organization, Annie E. Casey Foundation, 2014)
Driver's Licensing and Auto Insurance for Youth in Care
See 50-State Driver’s License and Auto Insurance Legislation for Youth in Foster Care. State legislatures have begun to examine statutes around enabling youth in foster care to obtain driver’s licenses. The 2014 federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act requires states to provide youth preparing to “age out” of foster care with several important documents, including driver’s licenses, to better prepare them for adulthood. Federal legislation also requires states implement a variety of “normalcy” policies intended to improve young peoples’ transition from foster care into adulthood by providing youth the opportunity to engage in a range of developmentally and age-appropriate experiences necessary for healthy emotional and social development, such as obtaining a driver’s license.
Driver’s License Education. State lawmakers have enacted laws to assist youth in obtaining driver’s licenses and auto insurance. These laws seek to remove barriers to driver’s licensing, including reducing fees or covering the costs of driver’s license education, licensing and testing; reimbursing foster parents for the cost of driver’s education, and allowing foster parents to sign off on youths’ driver’s license applications.
Auto Insurance. States also have enacted legislation to reduce or waive fees associated with auto insurance; reimburse foster parents for the cost of auto insurance; allow the child welfare agency to cover the costs of youths’ auto insurance, and allow youth to directly purchase auto insurance.
Bank Accounts and Financial Literacy. Along the path to adulthood, youth in foster care face a series of challenges including learning to navigate finances: How to save money, set up and handle a checking account, budget for expenses, understand credit, properly allocate funds from paychecks and all the other important components involved in making a living. Lawmakers in Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington have enacted legislation requiring some type of general financial education for youth preparing to transition from foster care into independent adulthood. Legislators in California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming have passed laws, including Foster Child Bill of Rights laws, to ensure that youth transitioning from foster care get assistance setting up savings accounts.
In addition, the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 requires that children and youth in foster care age 14 and older must be consulted in the development of their own case plan, which includes a free annual credit report and help in resolving any inaccuracies.
State Laws Allowing Foster Children to Open Accounts and/or Receive Financial Literacy Training
(Sources: ABA Center on Children and the Law, Westlaw, StateNet, NCSL Child Welfare Databases)
Financial Literacy Training
Foster Child Bill of Rights – Bank Account
Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act
Sec. 113: Empowering foster children age 14 and older in the development of their own case plan and transition planning for a successful adulthood. Youth in foster care age 14 or older must be consulted in the development of their own case plan, including selecting two trusted adults to be part of the permanency planning team (state has the ability to reject an individual selected if there is good reason to believe they would not act in the best interest of the child), and must receive a list of their rights while in foster care regarding education, health, visitation, court participation, and other matters. Youth ages 14 and older must also receive a free annual credit report and help to resolve any inaccuracies.
California Law Welfare and Institutions Code §16001.9—Rights of Children in foster care (2013) (a) It is the policy of the state all children in foster care shall have the following rights: (11) To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child’s age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan
California Welfare and Institutions Code § 16001.9, ACR 58, Res. Chap. 150
The rights are listed in the Welfare and Institutions Code (Section 16001.9) as:
11. To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child's age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan.
Colorado Law Section 19-7-101 (2011) The General Assembly hereby finds and declares that youth in foster care, excluding those in the custody of youth corrections or a state mental hospital, should enjoy the following: j. To be allowed to maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the youth’s age and developmental level, unless prohibited by his or her case plan
Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. §§ 19-7-101 through 19-7-103; 2011 Colo. Session Laws, SB 120, Chap. 102
Establishes certain protections for the rights of youth in foster care, except for those in the custody of the Division of Youth Corrections or a state mental hospital. These include:
and freedom to maintain an emancipation bank account.
Florida Law Chapter 39.701(3) -- Review hearings for children 17 years of age (a) … The department shall include in the social study report for judicial review written verification that the child has: 5. An open bank account or the identification necessary to open a bank account and to acquire essential banking and budgeting skills.
Chapter 409.1451 (3)(a) Aftercare Services are available to a young adult who has reached 18 years of age but is not yet 23 years of age and is not in foster care, temporarily not receiving financial assistance under subsection (2) to pursue postsecondary education. (b) Aftercare services include but are not limited to, the following: 3. Life skills classes, including credit management… 7. Temporary financial assistance for necessities… 8. Financial literacy skills training
Hawaii Law Chapter 587A-3 (a) (2010) The Department or an authorized agency, as resource family or permanent custodian, shall abide by the following guiding principles and ensure that a child in foster care: (8) Has a personal bank account and assistance in managing the child’s personal income consistent with the child’s age and development, unless safety or other concerns require otherwise
Hawaii Rev. Stat. § 587A-3
(a) The department or an authorized agency, as resource family or permanent custodian, shall abide by the following guiding principles and ensure that a child in foster care:
(8) Has a personal bank account and assistance in managing the child's personal income consistent with the child's age and development, unless safety or other concerns require otherwise;
Effective: Jan. 1, 2018
20 ILCS 521/5
521/5. Foster Children's Bill of Rights
§ 5. Foster Children's Bill of Rights. It is the policy of this State that every child and adult in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services who is placed in foster care shall have the following rights:
(11) To maintain an emancipation bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the child's age and developmental level, unless prohibited by the case plan.
Michigan Law Chapter 722.981, as amended by C.S.S.B. No. 1036 (2013) Foster care independence program, establishment; purposes Sec. 2. (1) If this state receives federal money…the department shall establish the foster care independence program… (a) Identify young adults who are likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age and help these children make the transition to self-sufficiency by providing services such as… training in budgeting and financial management skills (e) Provide financial… and other appropriate support and services to former foster care recipients between 18 and 21 years of age to complement their own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to assure that program participants recognize and accept their personal responsibility for preparing for and then making the transition from adolescence to adulthood
Minnesota Law Chapter 260C.212—Children in placement (c) The out-of-home placement plan shall be explained to all persons involved in its implementation, including the child who has signed the plan, and shall set forth: (11) an independent living plan for a child age 16 or older. The plan should include, but not be limited to, the following objectives: (iv) money management, including the responsibility of the agency to ensure that the youth annually receives, at no cost to the youth, a consumer report as denied under section 13C.001 and assistance in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report
Enacted: LB 216 (2013) (3) Case management…shall also include…, but not be limited to, assisting the young adult to: (c) Open and maintain a bank account
Nebraska Law Chapter 43-1311.03 (1) When a child placed in foster care turns sixteen years of age or enters foster care and is at least sixteen years of age, a written independent living transition proposal shall…include, but not be limited to, the following needs: (d) financial assistance, including education on credit card financing, banking and other services
Nevada Law Chapter 432.525 A child placed in a foster home by an agency which provides child welfare services has the right: (1) Except as otherwise prohibited by the agency which provides child welfare services: (b) To maintain a bank account and manage personal income, consistent with the age and developmental level of the child
New York Law Executive Law §532-d Notwithstanding any inconsistent provision of law, pursuant to regulations of the office of children and family services, residential facilities operating as transitional independent living support programs are authorized to and shall: (d) for a homeless youth whose service plan involves independent living, provide…….. training in the development of skills necessary for responsible independent living, including but not limited to money and home management…
North Carolina Law Enacted: HB 510 (2013) (a) The General Assembly promotes the following in the provision of foster care: (8) Establishing and having access to a bank or savings account in accordance with state laws and federal regulations.
N.C.G.S.A. § 115C-567.6
§ 115C-567.6. Definitions
Personal Education Account
The following definitions apply in this Article:
(1) Authority—Defined in G.S. 116-201.
(2) Division—The Division of Nonpublic Education, Department of Administration.
(3) Eligible student—A student residing in North Carolina who has not yet received a high school diploma and who meets all of the following requirements:
a. Meets one of the following criteria:
1. Was a full-time student (i) assigned to and attending a public school pursuant to G.S. 115C-366 or (ii) enrolled in a Department of Defense Elementary and Secondary School, established pursuant to 10 U.S.C. § 2164 and located in North Carolina, during the previous semester.
2. Received scholarship funds for a personal education savings account during the previous school year.
3. Is entering either kindergarten or the first grade.
4. Is a child in foster care, as defined in G.S. 131D-10.2(9).
N.C. Gen. Stat. § 131D-10.1; 2013 HB 510, Act No. 2013-326
However, the State recognizes there are instances when protecting a child's welfare outweighs reunifying the family unit, and as such, the care of residential care facilities providing high quality services that include meeting the children's educational needs as determined by the Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Social Services can satisfy the standard of protecting a child's welfare, regardless of the child's age, particularly when the sibling groups can be kept intact. To that end, the General Assembly promotes the following in the provision of foster care:
(8) Establishing and having access to a bank or savings account in accordance with State laws and federal regulations.
418.708. Savings accounts for foster children; assistance from the Department of Human Services
(1) The Legislative Assembly finds that a child who is 12 years of age or older and who is in the custody of the Department of Human Services should be entitled to assistance from the department to establish a savings account at a financial institution as defined in ORS 706.008 for the following reasons:
(a) Access to such accounts prepares a child to become financially independent once the child is no longer in the custody, care or supervision of the department.
(b) It is an important life lesson for a child to learn to save moneys for the future.
(c) Providing children who are in the custody of the department with the opportunity to establish a savings account is an important step toward their fiscal maturity.
(2)(a) The Department of Human Services shall, in accordance with rules adopted by the department, ensure that a child who is 12 years of age or older, of whom the department has had custody for a minimum of six consecutive months, is entitled to assistance from the department to establish a savings account at a financial institution as defined in ORS 706.008.
(b) Nothing in this section authorizes the department to require that a financial institution establish an account for a child.
(3) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a child described in subsection (2) of this section may contract with a financial institution to establish a savings account for the purpose of depositing and saving moneys for the child's sole use and benefit. The contract is binding upon the child and cannot be voided or disaffirmed by the child based upon the child's age or status as a minor.
(4) The consent of the child's parent, guardian or foster parent, or of any other person having legal custody of the child, is not necessary to contract to establish a savings account under this section. The parent, guardian, foster parent or other person having legal custody of the child is not liable under a contract by the child for a savings account unless the parent, guardian, foster parent or person having legal custody of the child is a party to the child's contract.
(5) The parent, guardian, foster parent or other person having legal custody of the child is not entitled to be an account holder on a savings account established under this section, or to have access to information about or moneys in the account, without the written authorization of the child who established the account. The child's signature on account documents that make the parent, guardian, foster parent or other person having legal custody of the child an account holder on the account or that grant the parent, guardian, foster parent or other person having legal custody of the child the right to have access to information about or moneys in the account, constitutes written authorization as required by this subsection.
(6) A financial institution that establishes a savings account for a child under this section is not liable to any person for establishing the account or for permitting the child to make deposits to or withdrawals from the account. The financial institution may rely on the child's signature on account documents when permitting the child to make deposits to and withdrawals from the account or to receive account statements and information about the account. The financial institution is not required to ensure that moneys paid out of the account are properly applied.
(7) The Department of Human Services is entitled to monitor use of moneys in a child's savings account established under this section when required to ensure continuation of receipt of state and federal benefits received by or on behalf of the child. The department shall adopt rules setting forth methods by which the department may monitor use of moneys in a child's account for this purpose.
Ore. Rev. Stat. § 418.200 through § 418-202; 2013 SB 123, Act No. 515
Oregon Law Enacted: SB 123 (2013) It is the intent of the Legislative Assembly that each foster child have the following rights: (4) To be provided with written information, at the time of placement or any change in placement, regarding: (a) How to establish a bank account in the foster child’s name as allowed under state law and obtain a credit report.
Requires Department of Human Services to ensure child 12 years of age or older in custody of department for at least six consecutive months is entitled to assistance to establish savings account at financial institution.
Directs Department of Human Services (DHS) to permit savings accounts and establish monitoring system for children 12
years or older in DHS’ custody, via rulemaking. Entitles children in care for six or more months to assistance establishing
savings accounts. Prohibits DHS or other legal guardian, as defined, from establishing accounts on behalf of child. Allows
DHS to monitor use of child’s money relating to state and federal benefits.
Texas Law Enacted: SB 1589 (2013) (a-2)
(2) assists a youth who has a source of income to establish a savings plan and, if available, a savings account that the youth can independently manage. (f) The department shall require a person with whom the department contracts for transitional living services for foster youth to provide or assist youth in obtaining: (5) a savings or checking account if the youth is at least 18 years of age and has a source of income;
Texas Law Enacted: SB 1589 (2013) (a-2)
The experiential life-skills training….must include a financial literacy education program that: (1) includes instruction on: (A) obtaining and interpreting a credit score; (B) protecting, repairing and improving a credit score; (C) avoiding predatory lending practices; (D) saving money and accomplishing financial goals through prudent financial management practices; (E) using basic banking and accounting skills, including balancing a checkbook; (F) using debit and credit cards responsibly; (G) understanding a paycheck and items withheld from a paycheck; and (H) protecting financial, credit, and identifying information in personal and professional relationships; and
Tex. Family Code Ann. § 263.008; 2011 Tex. Gen. Laws, HB 2170, Chap. 791
Sec. 1: Creates a “Foster Child Bill of Rights” for children in foster care that is to include rights to:
Job skills, personal finances and preparation for adulthood;
Virginia Law Effective: July 1, 2014 -- VA Code Ann. §16.1-281 B. The foster care plan shall describe in writing...... (vi) for children 14 years of age and older, the child's needs and goals in the areas of…money management skills development
Chapter 365-205 WAC
INDIVIDUAL DEVELOPMENT ACCOUNTS
A special IDA program for foster youth is established to serve:
(1) A person who is fifteen years of age or older who is a dependent of the department of social and health services (DSHS); or
(2) A person who is at least fifteen years of age, but not more than twenty-three years of age, who was a dependent of DSHS for at least twenty-four months after the age of thirteen.
Foster youth IDAs follow the same general rules for operation and responsibilities as the regular low-income IDA program above with the differences noted below.
The state will match eligible savings at a rate up to two dollars for every dollar deposited by a foster youth IDA accountholder into their account. Foster accountholders can earn up to three thousand dollars in state match.
A foster youth IDA may be used for:
• Postsecondary education or job training. Education and training may be provided to the accountholder, their spouse, or a dependent child and must be provided through an educational institution or training provider approved by the Washington state education and training coordinating board. Nonapproved training providers may be granted a purchase waiver by CTED.
• Housing needs. Housing needs include rent, security deposit, and utilities costs and other costs deemed acceptable by the service provider.
• Computer. The purchase of a computer must be determined by the IDA service provider to be necessary for postsecondary education or training.
• Car. The purchase of a vehicle must be determined by the IDA service provider to be necessary for work-related activities.
• Health insurance premiums. Account funds must be used for paying premiums only, not insurance co-pays.
A foster youth participating in the program must contribute to an individual development account and develop an individual savings plan. The contributions may be derived from earned income or other income, as agreed to by CTED and the service provider. Other income shall include financial incentives for educational achievement provided by entities contracted with DSHS for independent living services for foster youth.
CTED has the authority to grant exceptions to rules (as long as they still comply with the statute).
[Statutory Authority: RCW 43.79A.040 and chapter 43.31 RCW. WSR 05-21-091, § 365-205-090, filed 10/18/05, effective 11/18/05.]
Washington Law Chapter 13.34.145 (c) (i) If the permanency plan identifies independent living as a goal, the court at the permanency planning hearing shall make a finding that the provision of services to assist the child in making a transition from foster care to independent living will allow the child to manage his or her financial… affairs prior to approving independent living as a permanency plan of care Chapter 74.13.540 Independent living services include assistance in…accomplishing basic life skills such as money management
W. Va. Code, § 49-2-126
§ 49-2-126. Legislative findings and declaration of intent for goals for foster children
(a) The Legislature finds and declares that the design and delivery of child welfare services should be directed by the principle that the health and safety of children should be of paramount concern and, therefore, establishes the goals for children in foster care.
A child in foster care should have:
(8) A bank or savings account established in accordance with state laws and federal regulations;
2017 HB 159 authorizes, and details procedures for, an unemancipated homeless minors to establish a back account,
(a) An unemancipated minor may obtain a birth certificate from the department of health and may enter into a legally binding contract for housing, employment, purchase of a motor vehicle, receipt of a student loan, admission to postsecondary school, establishing a bank account, admission to a domestic violence or homeless shelter and receipt of services as a homeless youth or victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse, provided that the minor:
(i) Meets all of the following:
(A) At least sixteen (16) years of age;
(B) Willingly living separate and apart from his parents who consent to or acquiesce in the separate living arrangement;
(D) Managing his own financial affairs.
Bank Accounts. California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Washington (individual development accounts), Wyoming
Financial Literacy Training. Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, Virginia, Washington
Foster Child Bill of Rights Bank Account. Hawaii, Illinois, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, West Virginia (goal)