Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Missouri

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 211.036; Child Welf. Man., Sec. 4, Ch. 5

If a youth younger than age 21 is released from the custody of the Children's Division, and after such release it appears that it would be in the youth's best interests to have their custody returned to the division, the juvenile officer, the division, or the youth may petition the court to return custody of such youth to the division until the youth is age 21. In deciding if it is in the best interests of the youth to be returned to the custody of the division under this section, the court shall consider the following factors:

  • The circumstances of the youth
  • Whether the division has services or programs in place that will benefit the youth and assist the youth in transitioning to self-sufficiency
  • Whether the youth has the commitment to fully cooperate with the division in developing and implementing a case plan

The court shall not return a youth to the custody of the division if the youth has been committed to the custody of another agency, is under a legal guardianship, or has pled guilty to or been found guilty of a felony criminal offense.

In policy: The goal of the Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood is to provide financial, housing, counseling, employment, education, and other appropriate support and services to youth formerly in foster care, who left care on or after age 17.5 and have not yet reached age 21 to complement their own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to ensure program participants recognize and accept their personal responsibility in preparing for and making the successful transition from adolescence to adulthood.

The Transitional Living Program (TLP) is intended for youth, typically age 16 and over, whose permanency goal is not reunification, adoption, or legal guardianship. The purpose of the TLP is to provide a living environment that in the best interests of the youth and provides a path for the youth to transition from alternative care to self-sufficiency and living independently.

The TLP is designed to provide youth with more independent types of living arrangements and programs. The focus of the program is on life-skills teaching while providing housing and is intended to serve youth who will exit the foster care system to live on their own. Services complement the youth's own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to ensure that youth recognize and accept their personal responsibility in preparing for and making the transition from adolescence to adulthood.

An independent living arrangement (ILA) is a State-approved and subsidized placement option for youth aged 18 and older who cannot return home. Youth in an ILA should be able to demonstrate competency in life skills, manage their own finances and demonstrate responsible conduct and be attending school and/or working.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 211.036; Child Welf. Man., Sec. 4, Ch. 5

For purposes of this section, a 'youth' is any person aged 18 or older and younger than age 21 who was in the custody of the division in foster care at any time in the 2-year period preceding the youth's 18th birthday.

In policy: Participation in the Chafee program is limited to the following persons:

  • Youth, ages 14-21, who are currently in the legal custody of the division and in out-of-home placement
  • Youth who exited legal custody of the division on or after age 18 but have not yet reached age 21
  • Youth who, after age 16 or older, leave foster care for adoption or guardianship

For the TLP, youth should be at least age 16 with a placement history that indicates this type of placement as a logical progression to independence. They should have developed good decision-making skills and have a clear understanding of the program and what is expected.

To be considered for TLP, youth need to demonstrate the ability to make responsible decisions, maintain employment, and have a clear understanding of the financial and emotional demands of living independently. Youth entering TLP ideally would be currently enrolled and actively participating in Chafee program services.

For reentry, a youth is a person who meets all the following criteria:

  • Is a person aged 17 through 20 who was previously placed in the care, custody, and control of the division
  • Was released from care, custody, and control within the last 24 months
  • Is otherwise competent, not in a guardianship or conservatorship, and is not in the custody of any other individual or institution
  • Is not incarcerated or committed to any jail, detention facility, or the Department of Corrections

The criteria for an independent living arrangement are as follows:

  • The youth is at least age 18.
  • The youth is under court jurisdiction and in the care and custody of the division.
  • There is no likelihood of reunification with the parent or legal guardian.
  • Relative care has been explored and is not an option for the youth.
  • The youth does not want to be adopted.
  • A plan has been completed that specifies how the youth will live.
  • The youth is enrolled and participating actively in the Chafee program.
  • The youth can demonstrate competency in life skills.
  • The youth can manage their own finances and live independently.
  • The youth has demonstrated responsible conduct for at least 6 months.
  • There are no criminal law violations.
  • If applicable, school performance is equal to youth's capabilities.
  • The youth demonstrates responsible money management.
  • The youth is attending an educational or vocational school regularly to the satisfaction of school officials and is gainfully employed.
  • The youth has assisted or developed their plan for independent living.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 211.036; Child Welf. Man., Sec. 4, Ch. 5

The youth shall cooperate with the case plan developed for the youth by the division in consultation with the youth.

In policy: Once a youth is placed in the TLP, the transitional living provider is responsible for completing a day-to-day service plan within 30 days of the youth's initial placement and quarterly thereafter. The transitional living provider's service plan should address the following:

  • Academic achievement
  • Job readiness
  • Community services and support
  • Youth leadership
  • Independent living skills training

When a youth comes into the office seeking reentry, a conversation should be held with the youth to determine if the youth needs reentry or aftercare services, if the youth is willing to comply with services, and what services are expected. Youth will work in conjunction with the division to determine what services will be provided and will do the following:

  • Participate in and comply with any transition plan developed by the division and the youth
  • Meet with their children's services worker, the Juvenile Office representative, and Chafee provider, as required
  • Participate in any services provided, such as Chafee and TLP services
  • Enroll in and attend a secondary school program or an institution of vocational or higher education if it is determined the program will benefit the youth in their efforts to achieve independence
  • Find and maintain employment to supplement the youth's transition plan
  • Work to maintain their own efforts toward independent living

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Child Welf. Man., Sec. 4, Ch. 5

Each youth in foster care who is age 14 and older must receive a copy of any of their consumer credit reports each year until discharged from foster care, and the youth must be assisted in interpreting the credit report and resolving any inconsistencies.

Youth who were in foster care on the date they reached age 18, or at any time during the 30-day period preceding their 18th birthday, are eligible for Medicaid coverage, without regard to their income or assets, if such persons meet the following criteria:

  • Are younger than age 26
  • Are not eligible for coverage under another mandatory coverage group (including those youth who are disabled, receive Supplemental Security Income, or are receiving Medicare)
  • Were covered by Medicaid while they were in foster care

Chafee services may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Assistance in obtaining a high school diploma
  • Career exploration and vocational training
  • Job placement and retention
  • Training in daily living skills
  • Training in budgeting and financial management skills
  • Substance abuse prevention
  • Preventive health activities (including smoking avoidance, nutrition education, and pregnancy prevention)

The TLP program offers youth, ages 18€“20, who have a plan of independent living, ideally from a TLP group home, with the opportunity to practice life skills and prepare for the future in an apartment setting. Youth in this type of placement receive support and guidance, but supervision is minimal.

There are two types of transitional living single- or scattered-site apartment services:

  • A structured service is defined as a support being available for the youth to contact 24 hours per day and for which the youth is visited, at a minimum, every 72 hours in the youth's living arrangement.
  • An unstructured service is defined as a support being available to the youth upon request of the youth and for which the youth is visited a minimum of one time per week. At least one such visit each month is in the youth's living arrangement.

Once a youth is residing in a transitional living scattered-site placement, Chafee services will be provided by the TLS provider.

There are a variety of housing options available to youth who have demonstrated the skills or competencies to live in an ILA placement. Whatever option is selected by the youth, it must be in a stable and safe community setting that allows the youth full access to services and resources to fully develop independent living skills. Housing options include the following:

  • Single dwelling (house, apartment, mobile home)
  • Shared housing
  • Boarding home
  • Dormitory (college program)
  • Subsidized housing (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Section 8)

Youth in an ILA placement must have two contacts per month, with at least one of these as a visit in their living environment. The case manager will assist the youth in identifying and accessing resources to enhance the prospects for success in the ILA. Specifically, the case manager youth, and other family support team members should identify, to the extent possible and appropriate, the following support systems:

  • Medical and dental services
  • Educational and/or vocational training programs and options
  • Employment opportunities
  • Emergency contacts within the agency
  • Family supports
  • Religious supports
  • Community sponsor or mentor
  • Other resources as needed