Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Colorado

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-3-205

Except as otherwise provided in this article, the jurisdiction of the court over any child adjudicated as neglected or dependent shall continue until they reach age 18 and 1/2 unless earlier terminated by court order, except as follows:

  • If a determination is pending or the youth has been determined to be an incapacitated person pursuant to § 15-14-102, then jurisdiction continues until either the youth has made a complete transition into adult disability services and it is in the youth's best interests for the juvenile court to terminate jurisdiction or the youth reaches age 21 or such greater age of foster care eligibility as required by Federal law, whichever comes first.
  • If a youth is making the transition to adult services pursuant to § 25.5-6-409.5, then the court may extend jurisdiction until such transition is complete.
  • Jurisdiction pursuant to this section is not required to be terminated due to age before October 1, 2021.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 19-3-205

The court shall consider the individual circumstances of each youth in out-of-home placement who is at least age 17 but who has not yet reached age 18 to determine if the youth is ready to become independent upon reaching age 18 or whether the youth should remain under the care and supervision of the county until the youth reaches age 21, unless earlier terminated by court order. The court shall determine if the youth is engaged in one of the following activities:

  • Completing secondary education or enrolled in a program leading to an equivalent credential
  • Enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or career and technical education
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month

If a youth's medical condition makes him or her incapable of engaging in any of the preceding activities, the applicable county department shall maintain information about the youth's condition in the youth's case plan.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Code of Regs. 12 CCR 2509-4 (7.305.2)

The county department shall assess all youth in foster care who have reached age 14 for services to prepare for adulthood and shall complete the Roadmap to Success (RTS) part of the family services plan. This is required regardless of the specified permanency goal of the case plan.

The county department's assessment shall include documentation of the following:

  • The youth's capacity for self-sufficiency and self-support by reviewing daily living skills, in consideration of their age and appropriate developmental expectations and milestones
  • An evaluation of individual, family, community, and financial support resources available to promote emancipation or semi-independent living

Following assessment, the RTS shall be developed in consultation with the youth, caseworker, care provider(s), and, at the option of the youth, up to two other significant persons chosen by the youth who are not the foster parent or caseworker.

The case plan shall describe the services to help the youth transition to successful adulthood, including, but not limited to, participation in ongoing opportunities to engage in age- and developmentally-appropriate activities, and, if the youth is pregnant and/or a parent, the supports provided to the youth.

The case plan shall describe the services to help the youth transition to successful adulthood, including, but not limited to, participation in ongoing opportunities to engage in age- and developmentally appropriate activities and, if the youth is pregnant and/or a parent, the supports provided to the youth.

The case plan shall document the rights of the youth to education, health, visitation, court participation, staying safe and avoiding exploitation, and receiving a credit report annually. A signed acknowledgement that the youth was provided a copy of these rights and that they were explained in an age- or developmentally appropriate way shall be included in the case plan.

The youth, county department caseworker, provider(s), and other representatives of the youth, as appropriate, shall jointly develop a detailed, formal emancipation transition plan a minimum of 90 business days prior to the projected emancipation date of the youth.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Code of Regs. 12 CCR 2509-4 (7.305.2)

The plan shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

  • Assurance that the plan meets the specific self-sufficiency or cost of living standard in the county or State in which the youth plans to reside
  • A plan developed with the youth based on the information from the assessment and the youth's goals
  • Personalization, at the direction of the youth, to meet the individual emancipation needs to help prevent homelessness
  • Copies of verifiable vital documents required in § 7.305.5, including the following:
    • A certified birth certificate or, when applicable, an alien registration card (green card)
    • Tribal affiliation information for American Indian/Alaska Native youth
    • A Social Security card
    • A State identification card or a State driver's license
    • A health passport and other pertinent health-related records, to include health-care decision-making information and health insurance information
    • Educational records
    • Official documentation to prove the youth was in out-of-home placement
  • Specific options for the following:
    • Housing
    • Health insurance and health-care decision-making information
    • Education
    • Local opportunities for safe mentors
    • Continuing after-care support services
    • Workforce supports and employment services

The county department shall obtain free annual credit report information from the three credit reporting agencies designated by the Colorado Department of Human Services for youth who are in foster care and are at least age 14 and provide the information to the youth and the youth's guardian ad litem (GAL). Should the annual report show evidence of any inaccuracies, the county department shall inform the court of the inaccuracies, refer the youth to a department-approved governmental or nonprofit entity to resolve the inaccuracies, and inform the GAL of the referral.

The county department may utilize a supervised independent living placement for youth who are at least age 16 through the last day of the month of their 21st birthday when the county has placement and care responsibility. Approved supervised independent living placement settings may include an approved college dormitory, a transitional living program, an apartment or other private housing, or another age- or developmentally appropriate placement.

For youth ages 16 to 18, the following apply:

  • The use of a supervised independent living placement may be utilized only after considering the youth's developmental needs and assets, supports that are available to the youth, and documentation in case notes that all other options have been exhausted.
  • Placement in a supervised independent living placement must follow a period in out-of-home care.
  • An update to the existing RTS must be completed, preferably within 30 days prior to, but no later than 30 days after, the start date of the supervised independent living placement.

The county department shall establish a written policy for the use of supervised independent living placement. The policy shall address the following:

  • Assessing each youth's readiness to be successful in a supervised independent living placement
  • The safety of the placement
  • The availability of supportive services and resources for youth transitioning into adulthood
  • Any county-specific policies around caseworker contact with the youth
  • The process for ongoing review