Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - District of Columbia

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Code of Regs. § 29-6399

An independent living (IL) program is a residential program for persons who meet the following criteria:

  • Are ages 18 to 21
  • Have sufficient maturity to live without regular and continuous supervision and monitoring
  • Reside in apartments
  • Are provided with monitoring and services that reflect and support the person's ability to reside in the community without regular and continuous supervision and monitoring

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Code of Regs. § 29-6339

The decision to admit a young adult to an IL program shall be made jointly between the contracting entity, the IL program, and the young adult.

To be eligible for admission to an IL program, a youth in foster care shall meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least age 20
  • Have graduated from high school, received a general equivalency diploma (GED), or obtained vocational certification
  • Be attending college or a vocational program as a full-time student or employed at least 20 hours per week for the last 3 consecutive months
  • Have no pending criminal charges or investigations
  • Have a checking account with a minimum balance of $100 and a savings account with consistent deposits over a 3-month period

To be admitted to an IL program, a young adult other than a youth in foster care shall meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least age 18
  • Be at least one of the following:
    • Employed at least part time
    • Within 18 months of attaining a high school diploma
    • Attending a GED program
    • Actively engaged in a vocational program
    • Attending college
  • Have demonstrated sufficient maturity to enable the young adult to live independently

Prior to admission, the contracting entity shall determine and document in writing that the services, activities, and programs provided by the IL program adequately can meet the needs of the young adult and that the IL program is the least restrictive, most home-like environment for the young adult that is clinically appropriate. In making its determination, the contracting entity shall consider the following:

  • Whether the young adult's level of life skills, knowledge, and training are appropriate for the IL program
  • Whether the services and environment provided by the IL program are appropriate for the young adult's needs
  • Whether the location of the main facility and residences are convenient for the young adult's education program and other services
  • The ages and level of development of residents currently in the IL program relative to the young adult's age and level of development
  • The mental, physical, or emotional condition of the residents currently in the IL program relative to that of the young adult
  • The young adult's health needs relative to the capabilities of the IL program to meet such needs

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1301.02; CFSA Older Youth Serv. Pol.

For a child age 14 or older, a 'case plan' is a written description of the programs and services that will help the child prepare for the transition from being a committed child to independent living.

In policy: Through the Office of Youth Empowerment (OYE), the Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) provides an array of services and supports and provides linkage to community-based services and support to older youth in foster care. Services and supports are intended to help them develop their strengths and address their needs as they prepare to transition out of the foster care system and into their lives as independent adults.

Youth between ages of 15 and 20 placed in a congregate care facility or DC foster home are to be assigned to OYE for primary case management unless there is a determination that it is in the youth's best interest to be assigned to a non-OYE social worker.

The youth's case plan must document the following:

  • The youth's education, health, visitation, and court participation rights
  • The youth's right to receive a credit report annually
  • A signed acknowledgement by the youth that the youth was informed of these rights and that they were explained in an age-appropriate way

The youth transition plan is developed and updated in consultation with the youth and, at the option of the youth, with up to two members of the case-planning team who are chosen by the youth and who are not the youth's social worker or resource provider. CFSA may reject any person the youth identified to be a member of the case-planning team at any time if CFSA has good cause to believe that the individual would not act in the youth's best interests.

Youth exiting care will receive consultation to promote continuity of health insurance following transition from care into their State of residence. Upon exit from foster care, youth are to be provided a signed letter indicating that the youth had previously been in foster care.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Code § 4-1303.72; Code of Regs. §§ 29-6330; 29-6332; CFSA Older Youth Serv. Pol

At least 30 days before leaving care, a youth in foster care has the right to receive copies of the following:

  • Birth certificate
  • Original Social Security card
  • State and District identification cards
  • Immunization records
  • Medical insurance information
  • Education portfolios and health records
  • Immigration documents
  • Other personal information deemed appropriate

In regulation: An IL program shall educate a resident concerning life skills, including the following:

  • How to seek and secure housing
  • Safe and healthy trash disposal
  • Housecleaning and how to maintain a clean and healthy living environment
  • Safe and healthy storage and disposal of dangerous or combustible materials, such as cleaning equipment, cleaning agents, aerosol cans, or other chemical substances
  • Who to contact to maintain the residence, including how to utilize residence management
  • Simple household repairs, such as how to change a light bulb and patch a small hole
  • Nutrition and the importance of maintaining an adequate and balanced diet
  • Purchase, preparation, and storage of food
  • Proper personal care, hygiene, and grooming
  • Selection and purchase of clothing that is affordable and appropriate for the resident
  • How to do laundry
  • Personal safety, including safe community and residential living and responding to emergency situations
  • Money management, including encouraging residents to save money
  • General health and health management
  • First aid
  • Reproductive health and contraception
  • HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases
  • Substance abuse recognition and prevention
  • Parenting skills, including child development, health, and safety
  • Problem-solving and decision-making
  • Conflict resolution, negotiation, team building, and peer support
  • Time management
  • Stress reduction
  • Employment seeking and maintenance skills
  • Consumer awareness
  • Use of public transportation

If a resident is a teen parent who resides in the IL program with their child, in addition to the preceding life skills, the IL program shall educate the resident concerning the following:

  • Early childhood development
  • Medical issues in early childhood
  • Age-appropriate discipline
  • Parental rights and responsibilities
  • Choosing and monitoring child care providers
  • Sex, relationships, and family planning

An IL program shall provide the resident with a monthly stipend. If the resident resides in the main facility, the monthly stipend shall be at least $615, of which at least $300 shall be for food and toiletries, $125 shall be for clothing, $105 shall be for transportation, and $85 shall be for incidentals.

If the resident does not reside in the main facility, the monthly stipend shall be at least $1,315, which shall include at least the preceding amounts for food, clothing, transportation, toiletries, and incidentals and $700 for rent and utilities. If the resident is a teen parent who resides with their child, the stipend shall include an additional $125 per month per child. In addition, each resident shall be provided with an allowance of $20 per week.

In policy: Youth are eligible for the following aftercare services for 2 years from the date of the youth's exit from foster care:

  • Assistance in the search for stable housing
  • Aftercare case management
  • Employment and vocational guidance, including referrals
  • Ongoing life skills development
  • Guidance for accessing public services
  • Referral to parenting classes and daycare vouchers
  • Referral and linkage to adult systems