Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - New Jersey

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 30:4C-2.3; Ch. & Fam. Pol. Man. CPP-III-A-1-500

The Department of Children and Families shall provide services to individuals who are between the ages of 18 and 21 and meet the following conditions:

  • The individual was receiving services from the department on or after the individual's 16th birthday.
  • The individual, on or after the individual's 18th birthday, has not refused or requested that these services be terminated, as applicable.
  • The commissioner determines that a continuation of services would be in the individual's best interests and would assist the individual to become an independent and productive adult.

In policy The department is committed to providing services to adolescents, ages 18-21, to assist with a successful transition to independence. The department encourages youth who are age 18 or older to remain service-active with the department until they turn age 21. However, when there are no child protective services concerns or other legal reasons to keep a service case open, an older youth (age 18 or older) may request that their case be closed. The department is required to heed such a request. This is a reversible decision, however, when all the conditions listed in the next section are met.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ch. & Fam. Pol. Man. CPP-III-A-1-500

The department will provide services to adolescents who meet at least one of the following requirements:

  • The adolescent received services from the department at age 16 or older.
  • The adolescent is in an out-of-home placement funded and supervised by the department and agrees to accept continued case management services from the department, including continued board payments. This includes adolescents in foster care or independent living settings.
  • The caseworker and supervisor, as part of an assessment that actively engages the adolescent, conclude that continuation of services is in the adolescent's best interests. For example, it is determined that continued assistance is needed to facilitate the adolescent to attend and/or complete high school or general equivalency diploma classes or receive postsecondary education, including college or vocational training programs.
  • There are clinical reasons when it is in the adolescent's best interests for the case to remain open. For example, a severely depressed adolescent may need continued counseling services and support.
  • The adolescent is continuing to work toward the goals outlined in their Transitional Plan for Adolescents.
  • An adolescent is fully employed (30 hours per week or more) and earns less than 150 percent of the Federal poverty income guidelines for a family of one or needs nonfinancial department services.

Youth ages 18-21 may request to reopen their service case when all the following are true:

  • The youth was receiving services from the department on or after their 16th birthday.
  • The youth has actively requested that services be provided and now is willing to accept services.
  • Continuation of services would be in the youth's best interests and would help them become an independent and productive adult.

Any youth who meets all the previous conditions can request their case be reopened for appropriate services. The youth's case may remain open until their 21st birthday.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Admin. Code § 10:122D-2.7; Ch. & Fam. Pol. Man. CPP-X-A-1-5.43

The department, in consultation with the out-of-home placement provider, the child, the parent, and other significant adults, shall develop a written plan to prepare the child for self-sufficient living and shall reevaluate the plan at least yearly. The plan shall be developed for each child in out-of-home placement, as follows:

  • Within 6 months of the date of placement for those entering out-of-home placement at age 14 or older
  • No later than age 14, for those already in out-of-home placement

The plan shall be based upon an assessment of the child's strengths, resources, interests, and needs. It shall outline the necessary skills the child must master to achieve self-sufficiency and the responsibilities of the department and other parties to assist the child in developing these skills.

The department's representative shall identify at least one significant adult in the child's life who will function as an adult advisor to the child to assist in the development of the plan and the life skills needed by the child. The adult advisor may be the resource family parent.

In policy: The Transitional Plan for Youth Success is the required planning document for a young adult ages 18-21 who opts to stay in out-of-home care. The caseworker and the youth complete the form in conjunction with the Independent Living Assessment (Casey Life Skills Assessment).

The goal is for a coordinated transitional plan to be in place for all agencies or providers involved with the youth. The caseworker takes the lead by bringing individual service providers together in the planning and development process. Caseworkers assist the youth to identify the following:

  • Long- and short-term goals
  • Objectives
  • Action steps that are clear, measurable, action-oriented, and realistic

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 9:12A-8; Ch. & Fam. Pol. Man. CPP-VI-A-1-100; CPP-II-A-1-500

A transitional living program shall provide residential care and treatment services for up to 18 months to a youth ages 16€“21 who demonstrates the maturity to function with minimal adult supervision. The program shall assist in the maintenance of a youth in a living arrangement that will prepare them for independence and self-sufficiency through the direct provision of services or through referrals to other organizations and agencies. These services may include the following:

  • Educational assessment and attachment to an educational program
  • Career planning, employment, and life skills training
  • Job placement
  • Budgeting and money management
  • Assistance in securing housing appropriate to a youth's needs and income
  • Assistance in accessing other social services as may be appropriate

In policy: Independent living services include the following:

  • An independent living needs assessment that may address knowledge of basic living skills, job readiness, money management abilities, decision-making skills, goal setting, task completion, and transitional living needs
  • Academic support, including academic counseling, tutoring, study skills training, and literacy training
  • Postsecondary educational support, including classes for test preparation, information about financial aid and scholarships, and help completing college or loan applications
  • Career preparation, including vocational and career assessment, job seeking and job placement support, writing resumes, completing job applications, and developing interview skills
  • Employment programs or vocational training, including apprenticeships, internships, or summer employment programs
  • Budget and financial management, including living within a budget, opening a checking account, balancing a checkbook, information about credit, and filling out tax forms
  • Housing education, including filling out a rental application, handling security deposits and utilities, and understanding tenants' rights and responsibilities
  • Home management training, including food preparation, laundry, housekeeping, meal planning, grocery shopping, and basic home maintenance and repairs
  • Health education and risk prevention, including health-care resources and health insurance; sex education, abstinence education, and HIV prevention, including education and information about sexual development and sexuality; pregnancy prevention and family planning; and substance abuse prevention and intervention
  • Family support and healthy marriage education
  • Mentoring, which involves matching the youth with a screened and trained adult for a one-on-one relationship that involves the two meeting on a regular basis
  • Room and board financial assistance, including rent deposits, utilities, and other household start-up expenses
  • Education financial assistance, including allowances to purchase textbooks, uniforms, computers, and other educational supplies; tuition assistance; scholarships; and payment for educational preparation and support services

A youth is eligible for Medicaid if they were in out-of-home placement on or beyond their 18th birthday, and the case is closed.