Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Georgia

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Code § 15-11-340; DCFS Child Welfare Man. Pol. 13.1

A child may receive extended-care youth services from the Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS). To receive such services, they must be between the ages of 18 and 21, sign a voluntary placement agreement with DFCS, and meet objective eligibility criteria established by DFCS.

In policy: Youth ages 18-21 that consent to continue to receive foster care assistance through age 21 in the Extended Youth Support Services (EYSS) program may remain eligible to receive Independent Living Program (ILP) services. When a youth reaches age 18, they may elect to remain in a foster care setting without interruption and continue to receive independent living services if eligibility criteria previously were met. Those youth between the ages of 18-21 who have elected to exit foster care may request to return and participate in the EYSS program within 6 months of their exit from care. Any requests beyond the 6-month period for EYSS are subject to approval from DFCS.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Code § 15-11-340; DCFS Child Welfare Man. Pol. 13.1

The eligibility criteria require that the child meet one or more of the following conditions:

  • Be completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
  • Be enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education
  • Be a participant in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
  • Be employed for at least 120 hours per month
  • Be employed for 80 hours per month if they are also engaged in one of the preceding activities or can only work 80 hours per month due to a medical condition
  • Be incapable of doing any of the activities described in this subsection due to a medical condition

Every 12 months, a DFCS case manager shall determine if a child is still eligible for extended-care youth services. If DFCS determines that a child is no longer eligible for extended-care youth services, DFCS may terminate the voluntary placement agreement with such child and stop providing extended-care youth services. DFCS shall provide written or electronic notice to such a child regarding such termination and to the court that approved such services.

In policy: DFCS shall deem youth ages 14-21 eligible for the ILP when the following criteria are met:

  • The youth has been adjudicated as dependent or as a child in need of services by a Georgia juvenile court.
  • The youth is or was in foster care for at least 6 months prior to reaching age 18.
  • The youth aged 18-21 is a citizen or a permanent legal resident of the United States and a legal resident of Georgia.

Placement Agreements

Citation: DCFS Form FC-7; DCFS Child Welfare Man. Pol. 13.4

When a child is receiving extended-care youth services from DFCS, a DFCS case manager and staff, other representatives of the child, and, as appropriate, the child shall develop a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the child, including an option to execute a durable power-of-attorney for health care, health-care proxy, or other similar document recognized by law with respect to health care and specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and workforce supports and employment services, and is as detailed as the child may elect. The transition plan shall be completed within 30 days of the child agreeing to the services and shall be updated as required by this article.

The child may terminate a voluntary placement agreement and stop receiving extended-care youth services at any time.

A child who is within 12 months of becoming age 21 shall not be permitted to sign a voluntary placement agreement with DFCS for extended-care youth services.

A youth, age 18 or older, who wishes to receive extended youth foster care services must sign a written consent form in which they attest to the following:

  • The consent is a voluntary agreement with DFCS to receive supportive services.
  • The services will allow the youth the opportunity to accomplish certain goals, as stated in the written transitional living plan.
  • The county department will continue to provide placement and service delivery as outlined in the plan.
  • The youth understands that their voluntary, continued participation in extended services does not relieve the youth of their responsibilities as an adult.
  • The youth understands the content of the voluntary agreement and has signed of their own free will.

The written transitional living plan provides guidance to the youth as they transition out of foster care. To ensure that the youth understands it and will refer back to it as a resource, it is important to develop the transition plan in conjunction with the youth. The transition plan must include the specific plans the youth has developed and list the options and resources presented to the youth regarding housing, health insurance, education, work force supports and employment services, local opportunities for mentors, and continuing support services.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: DCFS Child Welfare Man. Pol. 13.0; 13.4; 13.6

The ILP provides eligible youth currently or formerly in foster care with services to successfully prepare and transition to adulthood. ILP services are designed to provide youth with the life skills and education necessary to become self-sufficient, live independently, and maintain stable employment. Services include life skills training, financial assistance, and educational and social support.

DFCS shall assist and support youth in foster care in developing a transition plan that is personalized at the direction of the youth and that supports the youth in attaining successful adulthood. DFCS must ensure that the transition plan includes information and resources about the following:

  • Housing options
  • Education
  • Workforce supports and employment services
  • Money management and finances
  • Transportation options
  • Physical, mental, dental, and sexual health, as appropriate
  • Health insurance
  • Information about the importance of designating another individual to make health-care decisions on behalf of the youth if the youth becomes unable to participate in such decisions and the youth does not have or does not want a relative who would otherwise be authorized under State or Tribal law to make such decisions and provides the youth options to execute a health-care power-of-attorney, health-care proxy, or the Georgia Advanced Health Care Directive
  • Permanency and supportive relationships
  • Personal growth and social development
  • Life skills
  • Local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services
  • Parenting and family planning
  • Immigration needs

Each child leaving foster care at age 18 or older who has been in foster care for at least 6 months shall receive the following documents:

  • Official documentation that proves that the youth was previously in foster care
  • An official or certified copy of their U.S. birth certificate
  • A Social Security card
  • Health insurance information
  • A copy of their medical, health, and education records
  • A driver's license or State identification card

In addition, DFCS shall do the following:

  • Ensure that each child in foster care who has reached age 14 receives a free copy of their consumer credit report from each of the three nationwide credit report agencies each year they remain in foster care until age 18
  • Receives assistance (including when feasible, from any court-appointed advocate for the child) in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report
  • Provide youth opting out of foster care upon reaching age 18 with information describing how to obtain credit reports independently