Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - New Hampshire
Availability of Foster Care to Age 21
Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 170-E:25; 170-E:53; DCYF Pol. Man. # 1977; 1985
The term 'child' means any person who is younger than age 21.
The term 'independent living home' means a child care agency that regularly provides specialized services in adult-living preparation in an experiential residential setting for persons age 16 or older who have a legal relationship with the Department of Health and Human Services and who can benefit from independent living training.
Any person who meets the requirements in this section may apply for extended foster care payments and services pursuant to such application as the department may require. If a person who meets the requirements refused services at the time of the person's 18th birthday, such person may apply to regain services at any time prior to their 21st birthday.
The department shall submit any amendment to the State plan or certification required under title IV-E (42 U.S.C. § 677) to provide assistance and services to individuals who have aged out of foster care and have not reached age 23.
In policy # 1977: The Division for Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) offers the HOPE program. The HOPE program means extended foster care to young adults who voluntarily consent and meet eligibility criteria established by § 170-E:53. Extended foster care includes any other traditional services or programs for which a youth may be eligible, including, but not limited to, the John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood. The HOPE program allows a young adult to reside in a paid foster care placement after turning age 18 if they participate in qualifying activities and there is a suitable foster care placement available. In addition to standard foster care settings, the HOPE program includes supervised independent living settings.
In policy # 1985: Some youth who exit foster care are overwhelmed with the challenges of transitioning to adulthood and have not established the permanent connections to adults they need for ongoing support. DCYF is responsible for offering temporary support to these young adults by partnering with them to stabilize their lives and by searching with them for a permanent adult in their life. 'Extended care services' provide temporary assistance to young adults who request DCYF services and who are willing to commit and work on a transitional plan to independence and adulthood. An 'extended care placement' is an out-of-home care temporary transitional placement.
Requirements for Remaining in Placement
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-E:53; DCYF Pol. Man. # 1977
Any person who meets the following requirements may apply for extended foster care:
- The person has reached age 18 but is not yet age 21.
- The person was in the custody of the department upon reaching age 18.
- The person signs a voluntary participation agreement.
- The person meets the following criteria:
- Is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
- Is enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education
- Is participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
- Is employed for at least 80 hours per month
- Is incapable of doing any of the preceding activities due to a medical condition, including mental health diagnoses, with the incapacity being supported by regularly updated information in the person's case record or plan
In policy: In addition to the criteria established by § 170-E:53, eligibility requirements for the HOPE program include the following:
- The youth pursuing postsecondary or vocational education must be enrolled for a minimum of six credit hours per semester.
- The youth participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment must participate for a minimum of 15 hours per week.
DCYF has established three categories of young adults who can participate in the HOPE program:
- Young adults who continue in placement upon turning 18 and engage in a qualifying activity or are determined to be incapable of engaging in a qualifying activity due to a medical condition, including mental health diagnoses
- Young adults who have completed high school or obtained an equivalent credential by their 18th birthday, or at any age while participating in the HOPE program, and continue to meet eligibility criteria by participating in a qualifying activity
- Young adults between the ages of 18 to 21 who submit Form 1977, consent to criminal background and central registry checks, and are approved to enter into a HOPE program voluntary placement agreement (Form 1987) regardless of previously declining to participate or ending participation in the HOPE program
Former DCYF youth in out-of-home care (now young adults) who continue to need support and/or services and are between the ages of 18 to 21 and who were in DCYF care because of abuse and neglect for at least 6 months, may request extended care services.
For all young adults who request extended care services, the following criteria apply:
- The service requested must not be more appropriately accessed through a community or State service agency, including DCYF aftercare services.
- The young adult has not completed high school or obtained an alternative credential or they lack the support from family, relatives, or friends to meet their basic needs.
- The young adult is willing to complete and sign the self-sufficiency services agreement (Form 2598) and to comply with the terms of the agreement.
Citation: DCYF Pol. Man. # 1972; 1985
From Policy # 1972: The '90-day youth transition plan' means a personalized plan developed by the youth and their caseworker at the 90-day youth transition meeting that can be as detailed as the youth wants it to be regarding the specific assistance and support available to the youth during their transition from care. It includes the specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and workforce supports and employment services. This plan should be updated prior to the youth's exit from care or if circumstances change. In those cases when the youth has extended jurisdiction beyond age 18, a second transitional meeting shall be held 90-days prior to the youth exiting care for the purpose of updating the transition plan.
The transition plan shall include documentation of the specific action steps that will be taken to ensure the needs of the youth are addressed prior to the youth's exit from care. This plan shall identify who is responsible for completion of the tasks or actions and the timeframes in which the tasks or actions are to be completed and determine if subsequent meetings are necessary to assist in completing tasks.
The caseworker must ensure that the youth has the following in their possession prior to being discharged from State care:
- Their certified birth certificate
- Their Social Security card
- Their drivers' license or nondriver identification card
- Health insurance information
- Medical records
- A completed Foster Care and FAFSA Independent Status Verification (Form 1992)
For extended care services, a 'self-sufficiency plan' is a planning document in which the young adult indicates their current status along with intermediate and long-range needs and goals regarding housing, education, employment, well-being, life skills, and connections to caring adults. Action steps agreed upon by both the young adult and DCYF are recorded and reviewed on a regular basis.
The goals under which young adults are served through extended care services include the following:
- The creation of a stable permanency plan
- Transition to other State or community services
- Achieving self-sufficiency
- Graduating from high school or obtaining an equivalent credential, if applicable
Transition Supports Provided
Citation: Rev. Stat. § 170-E:53; DCYF Pol. Man. # 1953; 1966; 1975; 1985
Extended foster care services shall be in addition to any other transitional services or programs for which the individual may be eligible, including, but not limited to, those provided through the Chafee program.
In policy: 'Skills training' is an independent living service for youth in foster care that prepares them for adulthood through experiential learning. Skills training includes the following:
- Job searching and obtaining employment
- Budgeting and finding housing
- Health care
- Time management
- Accessing community resources
- Establishing peer support groups
The provider also must accompany youth into the community to become familiar with community banks and lending institutions, car dealerships, grocery stores, rental agencies, or riding public transportation.
DCYF will provide all youth ages 14 and older in out-of-home care with an annual credit report until the youth is discharged from care. DCYF will review the credit reports with the youth, including how to interpret them, and explain the importance of credit and what is good credit and bad credit. If a report comes back identifying an inaccuracy or problem with a youth's credit report, DCYF will take appropriate action to resolve the issue.
In an advance directive, the youth provides important information about designating another individual to make health-care treatment decisions on their behalf in the event they are unable to make these decisions on their own. Information about an advance directive is provided to youth who attend the 90-day youth transition meeting. The youth is to be informed that they must be age 18 or older to execute the advance directives for durable power-of-attorney for health care and a living will. The individual selected to make medical decisions for the youth and to implement these advance directives also must be age 18 or older.
The extended care services that may be offered to young adults include the following:
- DCYF case management
- Adult living preparation
- Access to health care, including enrolling in Medicaid or Social Security, as applicable
- Community-based services
- Transition to aftercare or community services
- Crisis intervention
- Family support
- Respite care
- Alcohol and drug abuse outpatient counseling
- Family counseling
- Individual or group outpatient counseling
- Young adult placement in a foster home or independent living housing
Extended care services must be time-limited, and the young adult must be younger than age 21.