Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Ohio

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Rev. Code § 2151.81; Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-42-19.2; 5101:2-50-02

The term 'young adult' means a person aged 18 or older but younger than age 21 who was in the temporary or permanent custody of, or was provided care in a planned permanent living arrangement by, a public children's services agency (PCSA) or private child-placing agency (PCPA) on the date the person reached age 18.

In regulation: Each PCSA shall, when requested, provide services and support to former foster care recipients who emancipated from agency custody due to reaching age 18. The agency shall evaluate the strengths and needs of the young adult to determine the services to be offered. The services and supports are to complement the young adult's own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to ensure that the program participant recognizes and accepts their personal responsibility for preparing for and then making the transition from adolescence to adulthood. The services and supports shall be available until the young adult's 21st birthday.

Bridges is a voluntary benefits program with the intended outcome of helping eligible emancipated young adults gain skills for self-sufficiency. Bridges provides an eligible emancipated young adult assistance with stable housing, support to complete educational goals, employment resources, and access to community resources.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Admin. Code § 5101:2-50-02

For an applicant to be eligible for Bridges, all the following must be met:

  • An applicant was in the custody of a PCSA, in the care and placement responsibility of an Ohio title IV-E juvenile court, or in the care and placement of the Ohio Department of Youth Services (DYS) and in a title IV-E-reimbursable placement setting.
  • An applicant has reached age 18 but is not yet age 21.
  • An applicant has left the custody of a PCSA, the care and placement of a title IV-E juvenile court, or DYS.
  • An applicant satisfies at least one of the following eligibility criteria:
    • Is completing a secondary education program 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 diagnosed physical or mental health condition

Placement Agreements

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 2151.83; 5101.1412; Admin. Code § 5101:2-42-19.2:2-42-19.2

A PCSA or PCPA, on the request of a young adult, shall enter into a jointly prepared written agreement with the young adult that obligates the agency to ensure that independent living services are provided to the young adult and sets forth the responsibilities of the young adult regarding the services. The agreement shall be developed based on the young adult's strengths, needs, and circumstances. The agreement shall be designed to promote the young adult's successful transition to independent adult living and emotional and economic self-sufficiency.

Without the approval of a court, an emancipated young adult who receives payments or on whose behalf payments are received under the Bridges program may enter into a voluntary participation agreement (VPA) with the Department of Job and Family Services for the emancipated young adult's care and placement. The agreement shall stay in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The emancipated young adult enrolled in the program notifies the department, or its representative, that they want to terminate the agreement.
  • The emancipated young adult becomes ineligible for the program.

To maintain title IV-E eligibility for the emancipated young adult, both of the following apply:

  • No later than 180 days after the effective date of the VPA, the department must petition the court for a judicial determination that the emancipated young adult's best interest is served by continuing the care and placement with the department.
  • No later than 12 months after the effective date of the VPA, and at least once every 12 months thereafter, the department must petition the court for a judicial determination that the department has made reasonable efforts to finalize a permanency plan to prepare the emancipated young adult for independence.

In regulation: Based on an evaluation required by this rule, the agency and the young adult shall develop a mutually agreed on written plan for the provision of services. The plan shall clearly outline the responsibilities of the young adult and the agency. The written plan shall be signed by the young adult and a representative of the agency.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Rev. Code § 2151.81; Admin. Code §§ 5101:2-42-19; 2-42-19.2

'Independent living services' are services and other forms of support designed to help young adults to successfully make the transition to independent adult living and to achieve emotional and economic self-sufficiency. These services may include the following:

  • Providing housing
  • Teaching decision-making skills
  • Teaching daily living skills, such as securing and maintaining a residence, money management, utilization of community services and systems, personal health care, hygiene and safety, and time management
  • Assisting in obtaining education, training, and employment skills
  • Assisting in developing positive adult relationships and community supports

In regulation: Independent living services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Academic support, including literacy training and help accessing educational resources
  • Postsecondary educational support, including information about financial aid and scholarships
  • Career preparation, including the following:
    • Vocational and career assessment, guidance in setting and assessing vocational and career interests and skills, and help in matching interests and abilities with vocational goals
    • Job-seeking and job-placement support, writing resumes, completing job applications, developing interview skills, understanding employee benefits coverage, and securing work permits
  • Employment programs or vocational training, including apprenticeships, internships, or summer employment programs
  • Budget and financial management
  • Housing and home management, including the following:
    • Assistance or training in locating and maintaining housing, filling out a rental application and acquiring a lease, handling security deposits and utilities, and understanding tenants' rights and responsibilities
    • Instruction in food preparation, laundry, housekeeping, living cooperatively, meal planning, grocery shopping, and basic maintenance and repairs
  • Health care, including health insurance and the health-care power-of-attorney
  • Health education and risk prevention, including the following:
    • Hygiene, nutrition, fitness, and first aid
    • Medical and dental care benefits
    • Maintaining personal medical records
    • Sex education, HIV prevention, pregnancy prevention, and family planning
    • Substance abuse prevention and intervention
  • Mentoring, including being matched with a screened and trained adult for a one-on-one relationship involving 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; payment for educational preparation and support services; and payment for general equivalency degree and other educational tests
  • Other financial assistance, including any other payments made or provided by the county agency to help the youth live independently

The youth must be provided with the following documents:

  • Their original birth certificate
  • Their original Social Security card
  • A State-issued identification card and information on obtaining a driver's license
  • Health and education records
  • A letter verifying that the youth emancipated from agency custody

For each child in the custody of the PCSA or PCPA who has reached age 14, the PCSA or PCPA shall request a credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies each year until the child is discharged from substitute care. The PCSA or PCPA shall assist the youth in interpreting the credit reports and resolving any inaccuracies reported on any of the credit reports.