Educational Supports for Youth in Foster Care - Rhode Island

Date: April 2020

Support for Completing High School

Citation: Gen. Laws § 42-72-5

The director of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) is authorized and empowered to be responsible for the education of all children who are placed, assigned, or otherwise accommodated for residence by DCYF in a State-operated or State-supported community residence licensed by a Rhode Island State agency. In fulfilling this responsibility, DCYF is authorized to enroll and pay for the education of students in the public schools or, when necessary and appropriate, to provide education itself in accordance with the regulations of the Council on Elementary and Secondary Education either directly or through contract.

Planning for Postsecondary Education

This issue is not addressed in the statutes and regulations reviewed.

Eligibility Requirements

Citation: Gen. Laws § 42-72.8-2

DCYF shall make recommendations for Higher Education Opportunity Incentive grant awards from among those youth who meet the following criteria:

  • Have not yet reached age 18 on the day of recommendation, are in the legal custody of DCYF on the day of recommendation, and have remained in such custody for at least 24 months prior to the day of recommendation
  • For youth formerly in foster care, have reached age 18 prior to the date of recommendation, have not yet reached age 21, and were in the custody of DCYF from their 16th to their 18th birthdays
  • Have graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma not more than 1 year prior to the date of recommendation
  • Have not reached their 21st birthday

A youth who is participating in this program on the date before his or her 21st birthday may remain eligible until his or her 23rd birthday, as long as he or she continues to be considered a full-time student by the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College, or the University of Rhode Island and is making satisfactory progress, as determined by the school in which he or she is enrolled, toward completion of his or her degree program.

Financial Supports for Postsecondary Programs

Citation: Gen. Laws §§ 42-72-5; 42-72.8-1; 42-72.8-2; 42-72.8-3

The DCYF director is authorized and empowered to administer funds under the John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence and Education and Training Voucher (ETV) programs and the DCYF Higher Education Opportunity Grant Program, as outlined in title 42, chapter 72.8, in accordance with rules and regulations as promulgated by the DCYF director.

There are many children in the custody of DCYF who have been in such custody for several years and who have no family resources or whose family has limited ability to provide funds for postsecondary education. To afford such youth opportunity comparable to children not in State custody, there is hereby created the DCYF Higher Education Opportunity Incentive Grant Program. Through an appropriation from the general assembly, a grant fund shall be established in DCYF to supplement financial assistance in the form of grants and scholarships that are available to such youth.

Each year, DCYF shall identify and recommend from among youth in its legal custody, or who were in DCYF legal custody on their 18th birthday, those students who may be eligible to apply for a Higher Education Opportunity Incentive Grant. Each selected applicant will receive grants to supplement Federal, State, and institutional scholarships, grants, and loans awarded to the applicant in an amount not to exceed the full cost of tuition, fees, and room and board charges.

A grant period shall be limited to 2 years of full-time study at the Community College of Rhode Island or 4 years of full-time study at Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island. In no instance shall the grant period exceed a period of 4 years. Grant recipients shall be enrolled full-time and shall continue to make satisfactory progress toward an academic certificate or degree, as determined by the school in which they are enrolled. Grant awards shall be made on the basis of scholastic record, aptitude, financial need, and general interest in higher education. Recipients must comply with all application deadlines and criteria for admission to the institution to which the recipient is making application and, further, the recipient must have been granted admission by the admissions office of the institution.