Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Arkansas

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-114; Admin. Code 016 15 CARR 011, Policy VIII-B

A child in foster care who is approaching the age of majority shall be provided the opportunity to be actively engaged in the planning of their future. The Department of Human Services (DHS) shall offer an extended foster care program that provides case management services and supports.

The department shall allow a juvenile who meets certain criteria and left foster care to reenter the extended foster care program if the juvenile submits a request in writing or in person to the department for their return to foster care.

The department shall recognize that participation in extended foster care does not impede or otherwise alter any right afforded to the youth by virtue of their age of majority, including, without limitation, the right to consent to medical treatment or enter into contracts.

In regulation: Even after reaching the legal age of majority (i.e., age 18), all youth need additional support and access to an array of resources as they continue their transition into adulthood. As such, youth ages 18 through 21 may choose to participate in extended foster care for education, treatment, work, or other programs and services as determined appropriate by their transitional team to help them achieve a successful transition into adulthood.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-114

To participate in the extended foster care program or return to the program, a juvenile must meet the following criteria:

  • The youth was adjudicated dependent or dependent-neglected.
  • The youth was in foster care at age 18 but is not yet age 21 or such other age as may be required under Federal law.
  • The youth wishes to participate in extended foster care to benefit from the program.
  • Any of the following apply:
    • The youth is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential. The youth is enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education.
    • The youth is participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment.
    • They youth is employed for at least 80 hours per month.
    • The youth has a viable plan to meet the preceding requirements.
    • The youth is incapable of doing any of the preceding activities due to a medical condition for which incapability is supported by regularly updated information in the case plan of the juvenile.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-114

A child in foster care who is approaching the age of majority shall be provided the opportunity to be actively engaged in the planning of their future. DHS shall do the following:

  • Include the child in the process of developing a plan to transition the child into adulthood
  • Empower the child with information about all the options and services available
  • Provide the child with the opportunity to participate in services tailored to their individual needs and designed to enhance their ability to receive the skills necessary to enter adulthood
  • Assist the child in developing and maintaining healthy relationships with nurturing adults who can be resources and positive guiding influences in their life after they leave foster care
  • Provide the child with basic information and documentation regarding their biological family and personal history

The department shall assist a juvenile in foster care or entering foster care with the development of a transitional life plan when the juvenile turns age 14 or within 90 days of their 14th birthday, whichever occurs first. The plan shall include, without limitation, written information and confirmation concerning the following:

  • The juvenile's right to stay in foster care after reaching age 18 for education, treatment, or work and specific transitional programs and services, including, without limitation, the John H. Chafee Foster Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood
  • The juvenile's case, including their biological family, foster care placement history, Tribal information (if applicable), and the whereabouts of siblings (if any) unless a court determines that release of information pertaining to a sibling would jeopardize the safety or welfare of the sibling

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Code § 9-28-114; Admin. Code 016 15 CARR 011, Policy VIII-B1

The department shall assist the juvenile with the following:

  • Completing applications for the following:
    • ARKids First, Medicaid, or assistance in obtaining other health insurance
    • Referrals to transitional housing, if available, or assistance in securing other housing
    • Assistance in obtaining employment or other financial support
  • Applying for admission to a college or university, a vocational training program, or another educational institution and in obtaining financial aid, when appropriate
  • Developing and maintaining relationships with individuals who are important to the juvenile and who may serve as resources based on the best interests of the juvenile

Before closing a case, the department shall provide a juvenile in foster care the following at age 18 or before they leave foster care, whichever is later:

  • The juvenile's Social Security card
  • The juvenile's certified birth certificate or verification of birth record, if available or if it should have been available to the department
  • Family photos in the possession of the department
  • All the juvenile's health records for the time the juvenile was in foster care and any other medical records that were available or should have been available to the department
  • All the juvenile's educational records for the time the juvenile was in foster care and any other educational records that were available or should have been available to the department
  • The juvenile's driver's license or a State-issued official identification card

In regulation: The family service worker will do the following:

  • Consider the following issues with the youth:
    • The school the youth will attend
    • Living arrangements
    • Choosing a sponsor
    • Budgeted income and expenses
    • The amount of the board payment
    • Start-up items
    • Transportation needs
    • Continued life-skills training
    • The support needed to help the youth remain in school
    • Designating a health-care power-of-attorney or health-care proxy (if not already determined before entering extended foster care)
  • Assist the youth in locating and choosing a sponsor who may be the youth's out-of-home provider, attorney ad litem, apartment manager or owner, or a volunteer from the community
  • Approve the sponsor chosen by the youth
  • Notify the transitional services coordinator of who the identity of the youth's sponsor
  • Assist the youth and their transitional team in determining appropriate housing and needed support for the first school year

If the youth intends to reside with their sponsor, the sponsor must be an approved placement.