Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Delaware

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9015(f); Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § 6.1

The Department of Services for Children, Youth and Their Families (DCYF) is authorized to provide funding for youth who have reached age 18 but are younger than age 21 by payment of foster care supports specifically related to housing, by direct youth stipends, and/or to other public or private agencies to provide independent living (IL) services to youth.

In policy: The DCYF Division of Family Services (DFS) will provide IL services to assist youth age 14 and older who are in foster care and youth who have exited foster care after their 18th birthday but have not reached age 21. Eligible youth and youth adults shall receive developmentally appropriate services to prepare them for independent living.

Provision of these services must promote a Chafee Foster Care IL goal, including the following:

  • Educational progress
  • Employment
  • Maintenance of physical and mental health care
  • Housing opportunities
  • The formation of supportive adult relationships
  • Knowledge of and access to community resources
  • The acquisition of skills to increase financial viability
  • Daily life skills

The division is responsible for initiating and overseeing IL services.


Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9015(f); Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. §§ 6(A); (H); (A-5); (H-1)

DCYF shall establish policies for eligibility for direct youth stipends that shall require youth accountability, financial literacy, and attainment of self-sufficiency benchmarks.

In policy: The following persons are eligible for IL services:

  • Every youth in DFS custody and in a foster care placement setting who is age 14 and older
  • Youth who have aged out of foster care at age 18 and have not reached age 21
  • Youth who were adopted or placed under an assisted living or kinship guardianship agreement at age 16 and are younger than age 21
  • Youth active with a contracted IL service provider who returned home on trial reunification (for 60 days)

Youth must participate directly in designing program activities that will prepare them for independent living. They must accept personal responsibility for engaging in and fully participating with all aspects of the IL service.

Youth who turned age 18 on or after July 1, 2012, and are younger than age 21 who exited foster care due to reaching the age of majority or are otherwise eligible for IL aftercare services are eligible to receive stipends through the Achieving Self Sufficiency and Independence though Supported Transition (ASSIST) Program.

Youth between the ages 18 and 21 who aged out of foster care shall receive voluntary support services and have the opportunity to continue learning and practicing independent living skills and activities. Youth who are deemed eligible for aftercare services are also eligible for financial assistance through the ASSIST program if they aged out of foster care after July 1, 2012.

Participants must have a current service plan. The plan shall be reviewed every 6 months.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. §§ 6(D); (F)

Services and outcomes for youth between the ages of 14 and 16 shall be documented in the child's case plan, which will serve as their IL plan. Services and outcomes for youth aged 16 or older shall be documented in the IL case plan.

The IL plan for youth aged 16 and older shall be developed with the youth, the DFS primary case manager, the IL service provider, the foster parent(s) or caregiver, the youth's parents or relatives if appropriate, mentors, and significant individuals as requested by the youth within 45 days after referral. The plan shall be reviewed within age-specific timeframes, as follows:

  • Youth aged 14 to 15 shall have their plan reviewed annually.
  • Youth aged 16 and older shall have their case reviewed every 6 months.

Plans for youth shall be appropriate to the youth's level of education and functioning. Services for youth may include, but are not limited to, the identification of vocational, educational, or specialized training needs with plans for assisting the youth in obtaining self-sufficiency and assistance in seeking and maintaining employment.

Any youth who is aged 17 or older shall have goals included in their IL plan that address the transition to adulthood. Plans for youth approved for the ASSIST program must include details concerning financial literacy goals and skill-development training that will improve the youth's ability to self-manage the ASSIST funds.

A transitional planning meeting shall be held within 30 days of the youth turning aged 17 to develop a transitional plan that will assist the youth after they exit foster care. An exit planning conference shall be conducted by the DFS caseworker within 90 days prior to the child attaining age 18 to review the transitional plan and determine how the youth will meet their basic needs after exiting foster care.

At the exit planning conference, every youth will be educated on the importance of designating another individual to make health-care treatment decisions on their behalf if they become incapacitated and do not have, or do not want, an authorized relative to make health-care treatment decisions on their behalf. All youth will be provided directions regarding the process of executing a health-care power of attorney document.

At the exit planning conference, every youth will receive information regarding their eligibility and the requirements of the ASSIST program.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Code Tit. 29, § 9015; Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. §§ (E); (F-6); (G)

Funds appropriated for the purpose of supporting youth who are eligible for IL services shall be used to support those youth.

In policy: The DFS case manager will ensure the youth receive training and support in the following:

  • Life skills
  • Transitional planning meeting
  • Permanent personal connections
  • Social activities
  • Education
  • Employment or vocation
  • Health, mental health, and family planning
  • Abuse, neglect, and violence awareness
  • Substance abuse awareness
  • Housing
  • Financial management
  • Credit management and identity theft prevention
  • Obtaining a State identification card
  • Obtaining important documents, including a birth certificate and Social Security card
  • Obtaining a driver's license

An annual credit report will be obtained for each youth aged 14 and older in foster care. The annual credit report will be reviewed with the youth and a copy given to the youth, with assistance given to the youth to rectify all inaccuracies found on the report.

Upon discharge from foster care, all youth aged 18 or older who have been in foster care for at least 6 months will be provided with the following items:

  • Official letter documenting that the youth was in foster care
  • A certified copy of their birth certificate
  • Social Security card, identification card, or driver's license
  • A copy of their medical records
  • Health insurance information
  • Available educational records
  • Community resource list
  • A credit report guide and a copy of the latest credit report
  • A copy of the ASSIST program brochure

These documents also will be provided, as available, to youth who are age 18 and older exiting foster care but were in custody less than 6 months.

Youth eligible for IL services are eligible for financial assistance for housing subject to available funding through the ASSIST program. Youth who leave their out-of-home placement and are no longer in DFS custody prior to their 18th birthday are not eligible for housing assistance, except that youth who were adopted or placed under an assisted guardianship agreement at age 16 and are younger than age 21 are eligible for housing assistance.

Appropriate living arrangements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Transitional Living Program
  • Boarding houses
  • Apartments
  • Rental agreements with former foster parents
  • Shared housing

Housing services may be terminated if the participant demonstrates an unwillingness or inability to meet the requirements of the program, service plan, or the written terms of a housing agreement. Participants must be able to pay a predetermined amount toward rent, room, and board payments.