Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Mississippi

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Admin. Code 18-006-104, Part IX

Independent living services are intended to provide youth and young adults in care with an array of services and resources to assist and guide them in making a successful transition to living independently. The independent living program assists adolescents in acquiring basic life skills in their progress toward self-sufficiency. Youth who leave the custody of the Division of Family and Children's Services (DFCS) at ages 18 through 21 are eligible for independent living services until age 21.

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indian youth are eligible for independent living services based on the same criteria for DFCS youth in care.

An independent living placement is a placement in an apartment house or rooming house with supervision from a licensed placement agency. A youth who has attained age 18, meets the preceding requirements listed below, and is in the custody of DFCS will be considered for placement. A youth who has reached age 17, in addition to the preceding requirements, must obtain a high school diploma, certificate of attendance, or general equivalency diploma (GED).

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Admin. Code 18-006-104, Part IX

An independent living placement is an option only for a youth for whom another planned permanent living arrangement is the permanency plan goal. In addition, the placement must meet the following requirements:

  • Be approved by the youth court prior to application submission (the court order must be attached to the application)
  • Be located to provide reasonably convenient access to school, place of employment, and other essential services
  • Comply with all fire, sanitation, and safety regulations as determined by DFCS licensure standards as set for child-placing agencies
  • Be affordable based on the youth's established budget
  • Be approved by the State independent living coordinator

To be eligible for the placement, the youth must meet the following criteria:

  • Be capable of creating a budget based on income and living within the created budget
  • Be employed and/or attending school, with a plan to meet the needs of their budget
  • Be an active participant and maintain involvement in the Independent Living Program
  • Have a plan to cover the initial expenses
  • Be willing to sign and comply with a contract from the licensed placing agency, delineating specific rules and requirements
  • Be willing to allow planned and unplanned visits to the residence by the caseworker, placement agency, and other DFCS staff
  • Provide assistance to DFCS workers to secure necessary documentation

Teen parents shall provide verification of completing parenting classes.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Admin. Code 18-006-104, Part IX

Some independent living program services are provided through a contractual agreement, including life skills training, youth opportunity training, youth conferences, and other services, as appropriate.

For an independent living placement, the child-placing agency will provide a contractual agreement of responsibilities for the youth to sign. This agreement shall be updated as circumstances change, such as changes in the level of income or work schedule changes. If the contract is not satisfactorily met, the youth must leave the independent living placement program.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Admin. Code 18-006-104, Part IX

DFCS shall ensure that each youth transitioning to independence has the following available:

  • Adequate living arrangements
  • A source of income
  • Health care
  • Independent living stipends
  • Education and training vouchers
  • A resource guide to assist youth in locating and enrolling in educational or vocational programs appropriate to their needs, interests, abilities, and goals

In addition, DFCS shall do the following:

  • Supply the youth with a list of community resources suitable to meet the youth's future needs
  • Ensure that services are provided for the youth to make the transition from foster care to living independently
  • Let the youth know that they can contact the caseworker when needed
  • Make sure the youth receives a start-up stipend and any other resources available through DFCS
  • Document the preparation being made with the youth to help the transition from care to living independently

DFCS shall assist youth in obtaining or compiling the following documents:

  • An identification card
  • A Social Security card or social insurance number
  • A resume, when work experience can be described
  • A driver's license, when the ability to drive is a goal
  • An original copy of the youth's birth certificate
  • Religious documents and information
  • Documentation of immigration, citizenship, or naturalization, when applicable
  • Documentation of Tribal eligibility or membership
  • Death certificates when parents are deceased
  • A life book or a compilation of personal history and photographs, as appropriate
  • A list of known relatives, with relationships, addresses, telephone numbers, and permissions for contacting involved parties
  • Previous placement information
  • Educational records, such as high school diploma or GED, and a list of schools attended, when age-appropriate

Each child in foster care under the responsibility of the State or Tribe who has reached age 16 receives, without cost, a copy of any consumer credit report pertaining to the child each year until the child is discharged from care. The child also shall receive assistance (including, when feasible, from any court-appointed advocate for the child) in interpreting and resolving any inaccuracies in the report.

DFCS also shall ensure that children receiving independent living services and/or education and training vouchers and those who are aging out of foster care have information and education about the importance of having a health-care power-of-attorney or health-care proxy and to provide the youth with the option to execute such a document.

The Independent Living Program includes life skills training that contains the following components:

  • Community resources and transportation
  • Communication skills and social development
  • Employment
  • Money management
  • Decision-making and study skills
  • Housing and daily living skills
  • Self-care
  • Youth law issues