Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - California

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Support for Completing High School

Citation: Wel. & Inst. Code § 10609.4; Child Welf. Serv. Man. § 31-525

The purpose of the independent-living program may include, but is not limited to, enabling participants to seek a high school diploma or its equivalent or to take part in appropriate vocational training and providing job readiness training and placement services, or building work experience and marketable skills, or both.

In policy: Core services shall be provided to youth in foster care based on identified individual needs and goals, as documented in the transitional independent-living plan, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Education, including skills development, assistance and referrals to obtain literacy skills, and a high school diploma/general educational development high school equivalency certification
  • Career development, including assistance and referral to obtain career exploration, work readiness and responsibility skills, employment development, employment experience, vocational training, apprenticeship opportunities, and job placement and retention

Planning for Postsecondary Education

Citation: Educ. Code §§ 79220; 89341(b); 89342; 89345; 89346(b)

The California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office may enter into agreements with up to 20 community college districts to provide additional funds for services in support of postsecondary education for youth in foster care. This program shall be known as the Cooperating Agencies Foster Youth Educational Support (CAFYES) program and shall expand the number of students participating in the CAFYES program and shall not displace other students. In addition to the delivery of Student Success and Support Program services, as defined in § 78212, services shall include, when appropriate, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:

  • Outreach and recruitment
  • Consultation and eligibility verification
  • Consultation and referrals for students deemed ineligible
  • Service coordination
  • Counseling
  • Book and supply grants
  • Tutoring
  • Independent living and financial literacy skills support
  • Frequent in-person contact
  • Career guidance
  • Transfer counseling
  • Child care and transportation assistance
  • Referrals to health services, mental health services, housing assistance, and other related services

The Trustees of the California State University and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges shall expand the access and retention programs of the university and the community colleges to include the following:

  • Outreach services to youth in foster care to encourage their enrollment in a State university or a community college
  • Technical assistance to youth in foster care to assist those prospective students in completing admission applications and financial aid applications

The trustees and board shall perform the following services to assist youth in foster care:

  • Review housing issues for those youth in foster care living in college dormitories to ensure basic housing during the regular academic school year, including vacations and holidays other than summer break
  • Provide technical assistance and advice to campuses on ways in which to improve the delivery of services to youth in foster care

The State University Educational Opportunity Program and California Community College Extended Opportunity Programs and Services shall ensure that identified youth in foster care are informed of services, including mentoring, provided by these programs.

Each campus of the California Community Colleges shall do all of the following upon admission of a youth in foster care, and each campus of the California State University shall do all of the following upon determination, through receipt of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or through another means, that a student enrolled at, or applying to, that campus is a current or former youth in foster care and is eligible for financial aid:

  • Notify that student about appropriate campus support programs
  • Notify that student of his or her eligibility for financial aid
  • Provide that student with instructions for accessing the benefits for which he or she has qualified

Eligibility Requirements

Citation: Educ. Code §§ 66025.3; 69435.3; 69433.6(e); 79222

A campus of the University of California or the California State University shall not charge any mandatory systemwide tuition or fees to a former youth in foster care if he or she meets all the following conditions:

  • Is age 25 or younger
  • Has been in foster care for at least 12 consecutive months after reaching age 10
  • Meets any of the following conditions:
    • Is under a current foster care placement order by the juvenile court
    • Was under a foster care placement order by the juvenile court upon reaching age 18
    • Was adopted or entered guardianship from foster care
  • Completes and submits the FAFSA
  • Maintains a minimum grade-point average and meets other conditions necessary for the student to be in good standing at the public postsecondary educational institution in which he or she attends, as determined by the appropriate public postsecondary segment
  • Meets the financial need requirements established for Cal Grant A awards under § 69430, et seq.

Any California resident is entitled to receive a Cal Grant B award, and the commission shall allocate that award if all the following criteria are met:

  • The student has submitted a complete financial aid application, submitted or postmarked pursuant to the following dates:
    • No later than March 2 of the academic year immediately prior to the year for which funds would be applied, if the student is a youth currently or formerly in foster care, is attending a qualifying institution that offers baccalaureate degrees, and has not yet reached age 26 as of July 1 of the initial award year
    • No later than September 2 of the academic year for which funds would be applied, if the student is a youth currently or formerly in foster care, is attending a California community college, and has not yet reached age 26 as of July 1 of the initial award year
  • The student demonstrates financial need pursuant to § 69433.
  • The student attains a high school grade-point average of at least 2.0 on a four-point scale.
  • The student's household has an income and asset level that does not exceed the level for Cal Grant B recipients, as set forth in § 69432.7.
  • The student is pursuing an undergraduate academic program of no less than 1 academic year that is offered by a qualifying institution.
  • The student is enrolled at least part time.
  • The student meets the general Cal Grant eligibility requirements set forth in Article 1 (commencing with § 69430).
  • The student graduated from high school or its equivalent during or after the 2000-01 academic year.

For a youth currently or formerly in foster care, Cal Grant B awards may be renewed for a total of the equivalent of 8 years of full-time attendance in an undergraduate program, provided that minimum financial need, as defined in § 69432.9(b)(3), continues to exist.

A student participant in the CAFYES program shall meet both of the following requirements:

  • Be a current or former youth in foster care in California whose dependency was established or continued by the court on or after the youth's 16th birthday.
  • Be no older than age 25 at the commencement of any academic year in which he or she participates in the program

Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs

Citation: Educ. Code §§ 66025.3; 69435; 69519

Notwithstanding § 76300, a campus of the University of California or the California State University shall not charge any mandatory systemwide tuition or fees, including enrollment fees, registration fees, differential fees, or incidental fees, to youth currently or formerly in foster care who meet the conditions described above.

A student shall not have his or her mandatory systemwide tuition or fees waived pursuant to this subdivision in excess of the equivalent of attendance in a 4-year undergraduate program. The amount of a student's tuition or fee waiver shall be reduced by any State or Federal financial aid, including scholarships or grants, received by the student for the academic year or semester, or the equivalent, in which the student receives the tuition or fee waiver.

A person who is eligible for a waiver of tuition or fees under this section may receive a waiver for each academic year during which he or she applies for that waiver, but an eligible person may not receive a waiver of tuition or fees for a prior academic year.

The waiver of tuition or fees under this section shall apply only to a person who is determined to be a resident of California.

The provisions of this section shall not apply to the University of California, except to the extent that the Regents of the University of California, by appropriate resolution, make a provision applicable.

A Cal Grant B award shall be used only for tuition, student fees, and access costs in a for-credit instructional program that is no less than 1 academic year in length.

The Student Aid Commission or a qualifying institution shall award access grants in a student's first academic year. In subsequent years, the award shall include an additional amount to pay tuition or fees, or both, to attend college at a public or private 4-year college or university or other qualifying institution for all Cal Grant B awards, pursuant to § 66021.2(2)(b). In no event shall the total award in any year exceed the applicant's calculated financial need.

An award for access costs under this article shall be in an annual amount not to exceed $1,551. Access costs include living expenses and expenses for transportation, supplies, technology, and books.

The Student Aid Commission, through an interagency agreement with the State Department of Social Services, currently operates a federally funded scholarship program, known as the Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, that provides grant aid to help youth currently and formerly in foster care in California access postsecondary education. Funds provided through an appropriation by the legislature shall be supplemental to funds provided by the Federal Government and are designated to ensure program availability in the absence of and before the annual receipt of Federal funds for this purpose. The department shall opt in, as necessary, to expand program age eligibility of youth formerly in foster care up to age 26, pursuant to Federal program guidelines. The department shall pursue and seek possible Chafee ETV program Federal matching dollars.

Funds provided for this program shall be used to assist students who are currently and formerly in foster care for career and technical training or traditional college courses.