Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - Louisiana
Support for Completing High School
Citation: Child Welf. Pol. Man. § 6-1000
The Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) supports youth in completing high school through the following programs:
- Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG) is a dropout prevention and recovery program that delivers a unique set of services for struggling students to help them earn a high school diploma and for out-of-school youth to assist them in earning a general educational development (GED) diploma. If a youth meets these criteria and there is a JAG program in their school, staff are encouraged to enroll the youth in this free program.
- Credit recovery for children who are behind in school, or dropout recovery programs for children who have previously dropped out of school and have fallen behind academically are options for students to take or repeat a course through classroom, online, small-group, or one-on-one instruction, while focusing on the student's specific deficit areas, particularly in a previously failed course. Staff are to work with foster caregivers to utilize these programs to help children in foster care obtain or recover credits and progress to the appropriate grade level.
Planning for Postsecondary Education
Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 46:1002; 17:3399.21; 17:3399.22; Child Welf. Pol. Man. § 6-1030
The DCFS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) shall provide, in each of its regional offices, vocational testing and counseling on higher education and employment for those individuals in long-term foster care at the youngest age deemed appropriate to process the information. Through vocational testing, OCFS shall seek to identify areas of potential interest and potential employment that are specific to an individual in foster care, and, to this end, OCFS shall do the following:
- Conduct a minimum of three, 1-hour-long counseling sessions annually with each individual, covering the subjects of potential employment both during and after high school, as well as possibilities for education beyond high school
- Encourage and assist individuals in long-term foster care to find part-time work while they are still in high school as a means of discovering their interests and capabilities, as well as fostering a sense of independence
The term 'foster youth' means any individual in the care, custody, or guardianship of DCFS in the foster care program for any 6 of the 72 months immediately prior to his or her 18th birthday.
Each public postsecondary education institution shall designate a foster student liaison within its financial aid office. This liaison shall be responsible for applying the provisions of the Federal Higher Education Act pertaining to the independent student status and financial aid eligibility of current and former foster youth and shall assist these students, both current and prospective, in applying for Federal and State financial aid and other assistance for which they may be eligible.
In policy: The case manager shall begin planning for postsecondary educational or vocational plans with the youth early (e.g., at initiation of youth transitioning planning). If the youth desires to attend college, it is important to start planning for admission in the youth's junior school year. The youth must have the motivation and the academic ability to succeed in college. Some steps the youth should undertake prior to college admission are the following:
- Take the American College Test and/or other required achievement test no later than the fall of the youth's senior year
- Submit an application to the chosen program
- Secure his or her high school transcript and, if needed, the school's guidance counselor's evaluation of the youth's ability to pursue the necessary courses for college admission
- Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) for Federal grants, scholarships, and/or other financial aid application documents from the institution the youth plans to attend
- Plan for living arrangements if the youth cannot live in a foster home while attending college
Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 67, § 3901; Child Welf. Pol. Man. § 6-1315
Eligibility for the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program is limited to youth who meet the requirements of the program and is based on the availability of Federal funding. Participants should be any of the following:
- DCFS foster youth from age 14 to age 18
- Foster youth who aged out of foster care from age 18 to age 26
- Foster youth who were adopted from foster care after age 16
- Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) youth from age 14 to age 26
- Youth in a court-ordered guardianship from foster care initiated after age 16
- Native American youth from age 13 to age 26 who were in State or Tribal custody
In policy: Eligibility criteria for the Educational Training Voucher (ETV) program include the following:
- Enrollment in an accredited, postsecondary educational or vocational program
- Maintenance of a 2.0 grade-point average or satisfactory progress toward completion
- Foster youth age 16 and older who are likely to remain in foster care in DCFS or OJJ custody until age 18
- Former foster care youth who aged out of foster care at age 18 who are not yet age 21
- Youth adopted from foster care or those entering a guardianship subsidy arrangement with DCFS after age 16 but prior to reaching age 18
- Youth from out of State living in Louisiana who meet same criteria and are not receiving an ETV from the State where the youth was in foster care
Youth participating in the ETV program at age 21 are eligible until age 23 as long as they have been continuously enrolled and are making satisfactory progress.
The foster care case manager shall inform youth to apply for the ETV program through the financial aid office at their chosen postsecondary learning program.
Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 17:3399.24; Child Welf. Pol. Man. §§ 6-1315; 6-1030
In order to ensure that current and former foster youth have access to stable housing, a public postsecondary education institution that offers student housing may develop a plan to provide that these students have access to housing resources as needed during and between academic terms. The plan may grant them first priority for housing placement and provide that they be placed in the institution's housing facility that remains open for occupation during the most days in a calendar year.
In policy: For youth to maximize their financial assistance for a postsecondary educational or vocational program, the case manager shall ensure the youth completes the FAFSA indicating the youth is/was a 'ward of the State.' Completion of this application ensures the youth receives the full amount allowable through the Federal Pell Grant program for postsecondary educational or vocational programs, as well as the ETV program.
The ETV program provides financial assistance for postsecondary education or vocational programs. The maximum allotment of ETVs for a youth is $5000 per academic year. Case managers shall inform all youth aging out of foster care on their caseload of ETV by providing them with the ETVs flyer found at http://www.dcfs.louisiana.gov/youthlink. This discussion and assessment of a youth's eligibility shall be documented in the case notes.
All alternative funding sources, such as Pell Grants or the Taylor Opportunity Program for Students*, work/study, vocational rehabilitation, scholarships, ETV, etc., must be applied for prior to requesting approval of DCFS funding of the postsecondary educational service.
The amount requested by the case manager shall be the actual cost less the amount received by other funding sources, including the youth's contribution, if applicable. Fees for tuition, dorm lodging, meal tickets, and any other fees (books, supplies, clothing, personal items, etc.) shall be included in the cost. When a youth lives in a college dormitory, he or she can receive $119 per month to cover the cost of personal items, clothing, and transportation to and from his or her retainer home, etc.
*For more information about this program, visit the TOPS webpage of the Louisiana Office of Student Financial Assistance.