Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Maine

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat, Tit. 22, § 4037-A

A person who is age 18, 19, or 20 and reached age 18 while in the care and custody of the State may continue to receive care and support if the person meets the requirements specified in statute. A person who qualifies for care and support under this section may be placed in a supervised setting in which the person lives independently, in a foster home, or in a group home.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 22, § 4037-A; Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § V(T)

A person who is age 18, 19, or 20 may continue to receive care and support if the person meets any of the following conditions:

  • Is enrolled in secondary school or its equivalent or is enrolled in postsecondary or career and technical school
  • Is participating in a program or activity that promotes employment or removes barriers to employment
  • Is employed for at least 80 hours per month
  • Is found to be in special circumstances, including, but not limited to, being incapable of qualifying meeting any of the preceding requirements due to a documented medical or behavioral health condition

In policy: The eligibility requirements for the youth transition program include the following:

  • Youth in foster care who are ages 15-18
  • Youth who turn age 18 while in foster care by signing a voluntary agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services, until age 21
  • Youth who turned age 18 while in foster care but who were legally adopted after age 18, when that adoption disrupts prior to age 21
  • Youth ages 18-21 who are residing with birth parents by signing a voluntary agreement, when department oversight and support is needed to ensure youth safety and permanency
  • Youth in the custody of the department or on an agreement who are pregnant and/or parenting, transitioning from residential placements, in apartment placements, homeless, or likely to need adult services

Youth who have experienced adoption or permanent guardianship disruption, but who do not reenter foster care, may submit a letter to request youth transition services. Youth in foster care who would have been eligible for an adoption assistance subsidy or permanency guardianship subsidy prior to turning age 18, who signed a voluntary agreement for youth transition services, and are subsequently adopted between ages 18 to 21 may continue to receive transition services.

Youth ages 18-21 in foster care who have a signed voluntary agreement and who have their parents' parental rights reinstated may remain in voluntary status after the reinstatement of parental rights. Youth who were in foster care and are now experiencing factors that place the youth at risk of homelessness may request to enter into a voluntary agreement. Youth who were adopted, entered permanency guardianship, or were reunified with family at age 16 or older from department custody, may be eligible to receive education and training voucher (ETV) funds.

Youth participation in youth transition services will be voluntary but actively encouraged. Youth who decline youth transition services will be encouraged to reconsider their decision and may receive services at a later date up to age 21.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § V(T)

All youth in the custody of the department who reach age 18 achieve full adult rights and responsibilities and are automatically dismissed from custody. However, the department and the youth may negotiate a written Voluntary Extended Support (V9) agreement.

A V9 agreement provides an extended time for the caseworker to partner with the youth and assist in the development of permanent family connections and life-long community connections and to help the youth acquire additional life skills to become self-sufficient to meet their personal goals. Eligible youth may negotiate a V9 agreement with the department in order to receive extended support until their 21st birthday for any of the following reasons:

  • Obtaining a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED)
  • Going on to a postsecondary educational program or a specialized postsecondary education certification program
  • Participating in an employment skills training program
  • Being employed for at least 80 hours per month
  • Being incapable of participating in an education or training program or unable to work 80 hours per month due to a documented medical or behavioral health condition
  • Having specialized placement needs that cannot be met by an alternative plan

The V9 agreement should set attainable educational, employment, and/or employment preparation expectations for the youth or document why the youth cannot participate in these and should include a plan for meeting the ongoing transition needs of the youth, including connecting youth to permanent family, life-long connections, and connections to the community.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Child & Fam. Serv. Pol. Man. § V(T)

Caseworkers will ensure that, at a minimum, the following life skills training and independent living services and supports are provided to youth in care between the ages of 15 and 18, with follow-up services to youth on V9 agreements:

  • Providing academic support, such as tutoring; study skills training; assistance with homework; preparation for SATs, the GED, and other exams; and help accessing educational resources
  • Providing postsecondary educational preparation and support, including the following:
    • Tutoring
    • Information about academic and training programs
    • Information about financial aid, ETV funds, scholarships, and tuition waivers
    • Help completing college or loan applications
    • College tours
    • Conversations and support that assist the youth to plan for, enter, and complete postsecondary education or training programs
  • Providing career and vocational planning, preparation, training, and support that help youth develop an ability to find, apply for, and retain employment, including the following:
    • Job readiness training
    • Job search assistance
    • Resume writing
    • Interviewing skills
    • Connecting with job placement programs
  • Providing budgeting, financial management, and consumer skills training and support
  • Providing housing education and home management skills, homemaker skills, tenant's rights, meal planning and preparation, nutrition, laundry, housekeeping, grocery shopping, and basic home maintenance
  • Providing health education, family planning, sex education, healthy relationships, parenting, risk prevention, and substance abuse prevention
  • Providing support services to youth in foster care who have children
  • Proving family support and healthy marriage education regarding safe and stable families, communication, teen parenting, child care skills, and family violence prevention
  • Informing youth about community resources, making appointments, peer support organizations, mentoring programs, youth leadership opportunities, and other resources that youth may need to develop self-sufficiency
  • Assisting youth each year beginning at age 16, until their discharge from foster care or the youth turns 18, in obtaining and interpreting an annual free credit report and to resolve any inconsistencies
  • Making referrals or assisting with applications as needed (i.e., Social Security, veterans' benefits, vocational rehabilitation, mentoring, and adult services)
  • Providing youth with all their vital records, including the following:
    • Social Security card
    • Birth certificate
    • Driver's license and other forms of identification
    • Family and medical history information
    • References for employment and educational purposes
    • Educational documents and school transcripts
  • Providing a comprehensive listing of available community resources that are geared to the needs of the youth
  • Informing young adults, ages 18-21, about the importance of designating another trusted individual to make health-care treatment decisions on their behalf should they become unable to participate in such decisions by accessing information about health-care proxy and health-care power-of-attorney and about making an informed decision about executing their own advance directive documents
  • Informing youth about health-care options and how to apply for Mainecare upon turning age 18
  • Facilitating appropriate youth peer-to-peer mentoring opportunities