Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Florida

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 39.013; 39.6251

When the court obtains jurisdiction of any child who has been found to be dependent, the court shall retain jurisdiction, unless relinquished by its order, until the child reaches age 21, or age 22 if the child has a disability, with the following exceptions:

  • If a young adult chooses to leave foster care upon reaching age 18
  • If a young adult does not meet the eligibility requirements to remain in foster care under § 39.6251 or chooses to leave care under that section
  • If a young adult petitions the court at any time before their 19th birthday requesting the court's continued jurisdiction, the juvenile court may retain jurisdiction for a period not to exceed 1 year following the young adult's 18th birthday for the purpose of determining whether appropriate services that were required to be provided to the young adult before reaching age 18 have been provided

If a petition for special immigrant juvenile status and an application for adjustment of status have been filed on behalf of a child in foster care and the petition and application have not been granted by the time the child reaches age 18, the court may retain jurisdiction over the dependency case solely for the purpose of allowing the continued consideration of the petition and application by Federal authorities. Review hearings for the child shall be set solely for the purpose of determining the status of the petition and application. The court's jurisdiction terminates upon the final decision of the Federal authorities. Retention of jurisdiction in this instance does not affect the services available to a young adult under § 409.1451. The court may not retain jurisdiction of the case after the immigrant child's 22nd birthday.

Eligibility for a young adult to remain in extended foster care ends on the earliest of the following dates regarding the young adult:

  • Reaches age 21 or, in the case of a young adult with a disability, reaches age 22
  • Leaves care to live in a permanent home consistent with their permanency plan
  • Knowingly and voluntarily withdraws their consent to participate in extended care

Withdrawal of consent to participate in extended care shall be verified by the court, unless the young adult refuses to participate in any further court proceedings.

A young adult who is between the ages of 18 and 21 and who has left care may return to care by applying to the community-based care lead agency for readmission. The community-based care lead agency shall readmit the young adult if they continue to meet the eligibility requirements in this section.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.6251

As used in this section, the term 'child' means an individual who has not reached age 21, and the term 'young adult' means an individual who has reached age 18 but who has not reached age 21.

A child who is living in licensed care on their 18th birthday and who has not achieved permanency is eligible to remain in licensed care under the jurisdiction of the court and in the care of the Department of Children and Families. A child is eligible to remain in licensed care if they meet the following requirements:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
  • Enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or eliminate barriers to employment
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month
  • Unable to participate in the preceding programs or activities full time due to a physical, intellectual, emotional, or psychiatric condition that limits participation

Any such barrier to participation must be supported by documentation in the child's case file or school or medical records of a physical, intellectual, or psychiatric condition that impairs the child's ability to perform one or more life activities.

The young adult must reside in a supervised living environment that is approved by the department or a community-based care lead agency. The young adult shall live independently but in an environment in which they are provided supervision, case management, and supportive services by the department or lead agency. Such an environment must offer developmentally appropriate freedom and responsibility to prepare the young adult for adulthood. For the purposes of this subsection, a supervised living arrangement may include a licensed foster home, licensed group home, college dormitory, shared housing, apartment, or another housing arrangement if the arrangement is approved by the community-based care lead agency and is acceptable to the young adult. A young adult may continue to reside with the same licensed foster family or group care provider with whom they were residing at the time they reached age 18.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 39.6251

A young adult who is between the ages of 18 and 21 and who has left care may return to care by applying to the community-based care lead agency for readmission through the execution of a voluntary placement agreement. The community-based care lead agency shall readmit the young adult if they continue to meet the eligibility requirements in this section.

Within 30 days after the young adult has been readmitted to care, the community-based care lead agency shall assign a case manager to update the case plan and the transition plan and to arrange for the required services. Updates to the case plan and the transition plan and arrangements for the required services shall be undertaken in consultation with the young adult. The department shall petition the court to reinstate jurisdiction over the young adult. The court shall resume jurisdiction over the young adult if the department establishes that they continue to meet the eligibility requirements in this section.

During the time that a young adult is in care, the community-based lead agency shall provide regular case management reviews that must include at least monthly face-to-face meetings with the case manager.

During the time that a young adult is in care, the court shall maintain jurisdiction to ensure that the department and the lead agencies are providing services and coordinating with and maintaining oversight of other agencies involved in implementing the young adult's case plan, individual education plan, and transition plan. The court shall review the status of the young adult at least every 6 months and hold a permanency review hearing at least annually.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 39.701; 409.1451

A youth transitioning from care must be provided with the following:

  • A current Medicaid card and all necessary information concerning the Medicaid program sufficient to prepare the child to apply for coverage
  • A certified copy of the youth's birth certificate
  • A valid driver's license or a State-issued identification card
  • A Social Security card and information relating to Social Security insurance benefits if the youth is eligible for those benefits
  • All relevant information related to the Road-to-Independence Program
  • An open bank account or the identification necessary to open a bank account and to acquire essential banking and budgeting skills
  • Information on how to apply for public assistance
  • A clear understanding of where the youth will be living on their 18th birthday, how living expenses will be paid, and the educational program or school in which they will be enrolled
  • Information related to the ability of the youth to remain in care until they reach age 21 under § 39.013
  • A letter providing the dates that the youth is under the jurisdiction of the court
  • A letter stating that the youth is in compliance with financial aid documentation requirements
  • The youth's educational, health, and mental health records

The Road-to-Independence Program provides young adults who choose to participate in the program the skills, education, and support necessary to become self-sufficient and leave foster care with a lifelong connection to a supportive adult, either through postsecondary education services and support or aftercare services.

The amount of the financial assistance for postsecondary education shall be as follows:

  • For a young adult who does not remain in foster care and is attending a postsecondary school, the amount is $1,256 monthly.
  • For a young adult who remains in foster care, is attending a postsecondary school, and continues to reside in a licensed foster home, the amount is the established room and board rate for foster parents.
  • For a young adult who remains in foster care but temporarily resides away from a licensed foster home for purposes of attending a postsecondary school, the amount is $1,256 monthly.
  • For a young adult who remains in foster care, is attending a postsecondary school, and continues to reside in a licensed group home, the amount is negotiated between the community-based care lead agency and the licensed group home provider.
  • For a young adult who remains in foster care but temporarily resides away from a licensed group home for purposes of attending a postsecondary school, the amount is $1,256 monthly.
  • A young adult is eligible to receive financial assistance during the months when enrolled in a postsecondary educational institution.

Aftercare services are available to a young adult who has reached age 18 but is not yet age 23 and is not in foster care and temporarily not receiving financial assistance to pursue postsecondary education. Aftercare services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Mentoring and tutoring
  • Mental health services and substance abuse counseling
  • Life skills classes, including credit management and preventive health activities
  • Parenting classes
  • Job and career skills training
  • Counselor consultations
  • Temporary financial assistance for necessities, including, but not limited to, education supplies, transportation expenses, security deposits for rent and utilities, furnishings, household goods, and other basic living expenses
  • Financial literacy skills training