Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Maryland

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Fam. Law. § 5-525

A former child in need of assistance (CINA) may remain in an out-of-home placement under a voluntary placement agreement for more than 180 days if the former CINA continues to comply with the voluntary placement agreement and a juvenile court makes a finding that the continuation of the placement is in the best interests of the former CINA.

The Social Services Administration shall establish a program of out-of-home placement for former CINAs who meet the following criteria:

  • Whose commitment to a local Department of Social Services was rescinded after the individual reached age 18 but before the individual reached age 20 years and 6 months
  • Who did not exit foster care due to reunification, adoption, guardianship, marriage, or military duty

A local department shall advise a child, in writing, before emancipation, of the right to reenter care and the procedures for reentering care under this paragraph.

If a local department has knowledge that a former CINA is homeless, including by obtaining information regarding the former CINA's homelessness in an application for public assistance or through contact between the former CINA and a caseworker, the local department shall contact the former CINA and advise the former CINA of the right to reenter care and procedures for reentering care under this paragraph.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Fam. Law. § 5-525; Code of Regs. §§;;;

The administration shall adopt regulations that include eligibility requirements in accordance with Federal law and regulations for providing assistance to individuals who are at least age 18.

In regulation: To be eligible for youth transitional services, a youth shall be ages 14€“21 and committed to a local department or in out-of-home placement pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement. Youth who are ages 14-21 are eligible for age-appropriate youth transitional services, regardless of the type of placement or permanency plan.

Youth transitional services shall be made available to all eligible youth and shall include the following components:

  • Assessment services
  • Service agreement
  • Case plan
  • Transition plan
  • Case management services
  • Semi-independent living services

The local department shall promote youth participation in youth transitional services in order to encourage youth to accept responsibility for preparing for adulthood and making the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

A youth ages 16-21 may be eligible to participate in a semi-independent living arrangement if the youth meets the following criteria:

  • Is continually enrolled in and regularly attending school or vocational training or is working at least 80 hours per month
  • Agrees to the requirements of the service agreement
  • Needs help in transitioning to self-sufficiency
  • Is capable of contributing to the cost of the semi-independent living arrangement through the following:
    • Earned income from employment
    • Unearned income, such as scholarships, stipends, grants, work-study arrangements, Social Security (Supplemental Security Income or survivor's benefits), or any combination

Youth are eligible to participate in independent living aftercare services if they meet the following requirements:

  • Are between the ages of 18 and 21 and one of the following applies:
    • Exited from an out-of-home placement after reaching at least age 18
    • Exited out-of-home care to kinship guardianship or adoption after reaching age 16
  • Participate in the development of a service agreement and sign and comply with its terms
  • Need continued help in making the transition to self-sufficiency

Youth who apply for independent living aftercare services shall meet the following criteria:

  • Meet eligibility requirements
  • Receive services from the local department in the jurisdiction in which they reside
  • Be subject to an intake screening process by the local department to determine appropriateness of aftercare services

Placement Agreements

Citation: Fam. Law § 5-501; Code of Regs. §

A 'voluntary placement agreement' is a binding, written agreement that is voluntarily entered into between a local department and a former CINA whose commitment to the local department was rescinded after the individual reached age 18 but before the individual reached age 20 years and 6 months and specifies, at a minimum, the following:

  • The legal status of the child or former CINA
  • The rights and obligations of the former CINA and the local department while the former CINA is in placement

In regulation: Youth who participate in youth transitional services shall have a service agreement that shall establish the following:

  • Service goals and tasks required to meet the service goals
  • Individuals responsible for completion of tasks
  • Timeframes for completion of tasks

For the semi-independent living arrangement, the service agreement also shall include the following:

  • A plan for financing a semi-independent living arrangement that specifies the local department's contribution and the youth's contribution
  • The date by which it is anticipated the youth's income may increase to enable the youth to become financially self-sufficient
  • A statement that the youth's subsidy shall be decreased when the youth's income increases
  • A statement that the local department shall stop subsidy payments if the youth fails to comply with the service agreement
  • A statement explaining the youth's responsibility to inform the local department within 72 hours of any of the following:
    • Changes in the youth's situation, including termination, transfer, or resignation of employment
    • Termination, resignation, or failure to participate in education or training programs
    • Housing relocation
    • Arrest

For youth aged 18-21, a transition plan shall be prepared and updated at least every 180 days and shall be finalized 90 days prior to the youth attaining age 21 or exiting care. The youth transition plan shall be personalized at the direction of the youth and detailed regarding choices and options for the following:

  • Housing
  • Health insurance
  • Education
  • Opportunities for mentors and support services
  • Employment
  • Health, including mental health, sexual health and family planning, and directives concerning decision-making if the youth becomes unable to make health-care decisions

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Fam. Law. § 5-525; Code of Regs. §§;;

The administration shall adopt regulations that ensure that all children in foster care who are at least age 18 have a birth certificate, a Social Security card, health insurance information, medical records, and a driver's license or State-issued identification card at emancipation.

In regulation: Youth transitional services for a youth in out-of-home placement include the following:

  • Identification of the need for vocational, educational, or specialized training
  • Instruction in basic living skills, such as the following:
    • Decision-making and time management
    • Educational and vocational planning
    • Home emergency preparedness and safety
    • Housing acquisition and management
    • Personal hygiene
    • Physical and mental health care
    • Substance abuse prevention
    • Preventive health activities (including smoking avoidance and pregnancy prevention)
    • Understanding legal issues
    • Selecting positive leisure activities
    • Money management and consumer awareness
    • Nutrition and meal planning
    • Parenting
    • Effective social interactions
    • Using transportation
    • Activities of daily living
  • Assistance in seeking and maintaining employment, including techniques for the following:
    • Job searching and interviewing
    • Selecting appropriate attire for the workplace
    • Practicing work place etiquette, including relationships with coworkers, appropriate language, employer€“employee relationships, and attendance and punctuality
  • Assistance in identifying and accessing community resources and developing a support network

To ensure that youth participating in youth transitional services are provided personal and emotional support as they make the transition to adulthood, referrals shall be made to appropriate mentoring partners to foster positive mentoring relationships between youth and dedicated adults.

The purpose of semi-independent living arrangements is to provide youth an opportunity to learn and practice independent living skills and activities for a specified time period, as indicated in the service agreement, while receiving services from the local department and provider agency.

Independent living aftercare services are available on a voluntary basis to youth aged 18-21 who were in out-of-home placement on their 18th birthday or exited to kinship guardianship or adoption after reaching age 16. Independent living aftercare goals are designed to complement the efforts of former foster care recipients who are between the ages of 18 and 21 to achieve self-sufficiency by providing the following:

  • Financial assistance to purchase goods and services
  • Temporary assistance with room, board, and utilities
  • Counseling
  • Employment assistance
  • Education
  • Medical assistance
  • Other appropriate services to assist with self-sufficiency

Youth aged 18-21 who are receiving independent living aftercare services may be provided assistance with room and board that may include shared housing or independent housing. All Maryland youth who were in foster care at age 18 also are eligible to continue to receive medical assistance up to age 26 in the foster care category.

Services may be provided for up to 180 days. Services may be extended with authorization from the local director or the local director's designee. Youth may reapply for services up to age 21.