Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Minnesota

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 260C.451

Six months prior to a child's 18th birthday, the responsible social services agency shall provide written notice on a form prescribed by the commissioner of human services to any child in foster care who cannot reasonably be expected to return home or have another legally permanent family by age 18; the child's parents or legal guardian, if any; the child's guardian ad litem; and the child's foster parents of the availability of foster care up to age 21.

Upon request of an individual who had been under the guardianship of the commissioner and who has left foster care without being adopted, the responsible social services agency that had been the commissioner's agent for purposes of the guardianship shall develop with the individual a plan to increase the individual's ability to live safely and independently and to assist the individual to meet one or more of the eligibility criteria if the individual wants to reenter foster care. The responsible social services agency shall provide foster care as required to implement the plan. The responsible social services agency shall enter into a voluntary placement agreement under § 260C.229 with the individual if the plan includes foster care.

Individuals who had not been under the guardianship of the commissioner prior to age 18 may ask to reenter foster care after age 18, and the responsible social services agency that had responsibility for planning for the individual before discharge from foster care shall provide foster care or other services to the individual for the purpose of increasing the individual's ability to live safely and independently and to meet the eligibility criteria for return to foster care if either of the following apply:

  • The individual was in foster care for the 6 consecutive months prior to the person's 18th birthday and was not discharged home, adopted, or received into a relative's home under a transfer of permanent legal and physical custody.
  • The individual was discharged from foster care while on runaway status after age 15.

A child who left foster care while under guardianship of the commissioner retains eligibility for foster care for placement at any time prior to age 21.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260C.4 51; 260C.452

A child in foster care immediately prior to the child's 18th birthday may continue in foster care past age 18 unless any of the following apply:

  • The child can safely return home.
  • The child is in placement pursuant to the agency's duties under § 256B.092 to meet the child's needs due to developmental disability or related condition, and the child will be served as an adult.
  • The child can be adopted or have permanent legal and physical custody transferred to a relative prior to the child's 18th birthday.

To be considered eligible to continue in or return to foster care and remain there to age 21, the child must meet at least one 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 participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
  • Be employed for at least 80 hours per month
  • Be incapable of doing any of the preceding activities due to a medical condition

For purposes of this section, a 'youth' means a person who is at least age 14 and younger than age 23. This section pertains to a youth who meets any of the following criteria:

  • Is in foster care and is age 14 or older, including a youth who is under the guardianship of the commissioner
  • Has a permanency disposition of permanent custody to the agency
  • Will leave foster care when the youth is age 18 or older and younger than age 21
  • Has left foster care due to adoption when the youth was age 16 or older
  • Has left foster care due to a transfer of permanent legal and physical custody to a relative, or Tribal equivalent, when the youth was age 16 or older
  • Was reunified with the youth's primary caretaker when the youth was age 14 or older and younger than age 18

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260C.229; 260C.451

When a youth asks to continue or to reenter foster care after age 18, the youth and the responsible social services agency may enter into a voluntary agreement for the youth to be in foster care under the terms of § 260C.451. The voluntary agreement must be in writing and on a form prescribed by the commissioner.

In conjunction with a qualifying and eligible individual and other appropriate persons, the responsible social services agency shall develop a specific plan related to that individual's vocational, educational, social, or maturational needs and, to the extent funds are available, provide foster care as required to implement the plan. The responsible social services agency shall enter into a voluntary placement agreement with the individual if the plan includes foster care.

Individuals in foster care are adults for all purposes except the continued provision of foster care. The responsible social services agency has legal responsibility for the individual's placement and care when the matter continues under court jurisdiction pursuant to § 260C.193 or when the individual and the responsible agency execute a voluntary placement agreement.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 260C.212; 260C.452

The independent living plan should include, but not be limited to, the following objectives:

  • Educational, vocational, or employment planning
  • Health-care planning and medical coverage
  • Transportation, including, where appropriate, assisting the child in obtaining a driver's license
  • Money management, including the responsibility of the responsible social services agency to ensure that the child annually receives, at no cost to the child, a consumer credit report and assistance in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report
  • Planning for housing
  • Social and recreational skills
  • Establishing and maintaining connections with the youth's family and community
  • Regular opportunities to engage in age-appropriate or developmentally appropriate activities typical for the youth's age group, taking into consideration the capacities of the individual youth

When a youth is age 18 or older, the court shall ensure that the responsible social services agency assists the youth in obtaining the following documents before the youth leaves foster care:

  • A Social Security card
  • An official or certified copy of the youth's birth certificate
  • A State identification card or driver's license, Tribal enrollment identification card, green card, or school visa
  • Health insurance information
  • The youth's school, medical, and dental records
  • A contact list of the youth's medical, dental, and mental health providers
  • Contact information for the youth's siblings, if the siblings are in foster care

For a youth who will be discharged from foster care at age 18 or older because the youth is not eligible for extended foster care benefits or chooses to leave foster care, the responsible social services agency must develop a personalized transition plan as directed by the youth during the 180-day period immediately prior to the expected date of discharge. The transition plan must be as detailed as the youth elects and include specific options, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Affordable housing with necessary supports that does not include a homeless shelter
  • Health insurance, including eligibility for medical assistance
  • Education, including application to the Education and Training Voucher Program
  • Local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services
  • Workforce supports and employment services
  • A copy of the youth's consumer credit report and assistance in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report, at no cost to the youth
  • Information on executing a health-care directive and on the importance of designating another individual to make health-care decisions on behalf of the youth if the youth becomes unable to participate in decisions
  • Appropriate contact information through age 21 if the youth needs information or help dealing with a crisis situation
  • Official documentation that the youth was previously in foster care