Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Pennsylvania

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6351

At each permanency hearing, a court shall determine all the following:

  • The services needed to assist a child who is aged 14 or older to make the transition to successful adulthood
  • Whether the child continues to meet the definition of 'child' and has requested that the court continue jurisdiction pursuant to § 6302 if the child is between ages 18 and 21
  • That a transition plan has been presented in accordance with section 475 of the Social Security Act (49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. § 675)

At any time prior to a child reaching age 21, a child may request the court to resume dependency jurisdiction if the following apply:

  • The child continues to meet the definition of 'child' pursuant to § 6302.
  • Dependency jurisdiction was terminated within 90 days prior to the child's 18th birthday or on or after the child's 18th birthday but before the child turns age 21.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Cons. Stat. Tit. 42, § 6302

A 'child' is an individual who meets the following criteria:

  • They are younger than age 18.
  • They are younger than age 21 and committed an act of delinquency before reaching age 18.
  • They are younger than age 21, were adjudicated dependent before reaching age 18, have requested the court to retain jurisdiction, and who remain under the jurisdiction of the court as a dependent child because the court has determined that any of the following apply to the child:
    • They are completing secondary education or an equivalent credential.
    • They are enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education.
    • They are participating in a program actively designed to promote or remove barriers to employment.
    • They are employed for at least 80 hours per month.
    • They are incapable of doing any of the preceding activities due to a medical or behavioral health condition, which is supported by regularly updated information in the permanency plan of the child.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 55, Part V, Subpt. C, Ch. 3140, App. A

The Federal law that established the title IV-E program also requires that an independent living case plan be developed for youth receiving title IV-E independent living services and, wherever appropriate, for other youth aged 16 or older. The youth's independent living case plan shall be part of the youth's family service plan and include a description of the services that will help the youth prepare for transition from foster care to independent living.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Admin. Code Tit. 55, Part V, Subpt. C, Ch. 3140, App. A

Direct services are activities conducted on behalf of a youth to achieve the goals and objectives established in the youth's independent living plan. Direct services include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Individualized assessment of the independent living needs of eligible children and the development of an independent living case plan based on that assessment
  • Services related to education and vocational training, including the following:
    • Career planning
    • Preparation for a general equivalency degree or higher education
    • Job readiness
    • Job search assistance
    • Job placement
    • Tutoring or other remedial education
    • Job follow-up activities
  • Programs and services in basic living skills, including the following:
    • Money management
    • Home management
    • Consumer skills
    • Identifying and using community resources
    • Use of transportation
    • Health care
    • Locating housing
    • Problem-solving and decision-making
    • Time management
    • Communication skills
  • Individual and group counseling, as well as workshops and conferences to promote the following:
    • Self-esteem
    • Self-confidence
    • Development of interpersonal and social skills
    • Preparation for the transition to independence and termination from substitute care
  • Stipends to youth for participation in and completion of independent living activities
  • Activities that promote and assist teen parents and their children in making the transition from foster care

Stipends can be used as a 'nest egg' to fund start-up costs of independent living, such as a security deposit for an apartment, apartment utilities and furnishings, and tuition for education and training.