Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - South Carolina

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, §§ 500; 530

In policy: If the agency is unable to find and provide a permanent home by the time the child reaches age 18, the agency shall offer the child the option of voluntarily remaining in foster care placement until age 21.

Aftercare services are available to eligible youth regardless of placement status.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530

John H. Chafee Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood services are available for the following:

  • All youth in foster care from age 14 up to their 21st birthday
  • All young adults aged 18 who reached the age of majority in foster care, including those in aftercare placement and those out of care
  • Youth who are currently in adoption preservation placement
  • Youth who have been in care for at least 6 months, as follows:
    • Who leave foster care due to reunification at or after their 14th birthday
    • Who leave foster care due to adoption, kinship care, or guardianship at or after their 16th birthday

Youth must have entered foster care because of an allegation of abuse or neglect. The case causing the youth's removal must have resulted in a finding of abuse or neglect on its merits. While in foster care, youth are eligible for services, but if the case is not founded before the youth's 18th birthday (or eligible age for those who obtain positive permanency), such youth are not eligible for services funded by the Chafee program.

Placement Agreements

Citation: DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, §§ 510.4; 560

Within 90 days prior to a youth's 18th birthday, the agency shall draft a personalized transition plan that addresses the following:

  • It includes specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, and workforce supports and employment services.
  • It includes information about the importance of designating another individual to make health-care treatment decisions on behalf of the child if the child becomes unable to participate in such decisions and the child does not have, or does not want, a relative who would otherwise be authorized under State law to make such decisions.
  • It provides the child with the option to execute a health-care power-of-attorney, health-care proxy, or other similar document recognized under State law.

As soon as possible after a child completes the initial life-skills assessment, the worker shall meet with the child to plan for the services needed to assist the child in making the transition from foster care to a successful adulthood.

If a child is age 14 or older, the caseworker shall consult with the child and, at the child's option, two support persons who are not a foster parent or caseworker about all transition planning decisions. One of the individuals chosen by the child may be designated to be the child's advisor or, as necessary, the child's advocate with respect to the application of the reasonable and prudent parent standard to the child.

As part of the child's transition plan, the caseworker shall confirm that the youth receives a copy of the youth's credit report (or, if the youth has no credit report, an email documenting that the child has no report) on an annual basis from age 14 until the youth leaves care.

Within 90 days prior to the youth's 17th birthday, the caseworker shall convene a formal transition planning meeting. The meeting shall include the youth, the youth's identified case planning support team, the youth's agency case planning team, and the youth's adult support system. The transition plan is guided by the aspirations of the youth. The meeting shall focus on the immediate services and skills that the youth will need upon reaching the age of 18. The plan should address and document the following:

  • Identification of adults who will be part of the youth's continuing support system, including local opportunities for mentoring
  • Health-care insurance (if in foster care on their 18th birthday, Medicaid eligibility continues to age 26 with few exceptions)
  • Health education, including information relating to sexual health, family planning, and services and resources to inform and prepare the youth to make healthy decisions
  • Education, including postsecondary school and vocational training
  • The continued participation of the youth in any appropriate mental health treatment
  • Housing
  • Workforce supports and employment services

For a youth aged 18 or older and any youth that was in foster care for 6 months or longer prior to exiting foster care, the agency will provide the youth with the following documents:

  • An official or certified copy of their birth certificate
  • Their Social Security card
  • Health insurance information
  • A copy of their education and health passport
  • A driver's license or State-issued identification card

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: DSS Pol. & Proc. Man. Ch. 5, § 530

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

  • Casework counseling
  • Assistance in obtaining a high school diploma
  • Career exploration
  • 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)
  • Preparation and assistance for postsecondary training and/or education
  • Provision of education and training vouchers
  • Personal and emotional support (e.g., mentoring)
  • Support for regular, ongoing opportunities to engage in age- or developmentally appropriate activities
  • Financial, housing, counseling, employment, education, and other appropriate support and services

The caseworker must contact the youth monthly for a minimum of 6 months after the youth leaves care to provide transition support. During that period, a youth may request aftercare services regardless of their placement status.

When a youth requests aftercare services, the county of the youth's current residence should contact the county in which the youth was in foster care to verify the date the youth exited care and to gather information about connections the youth may have had with adults in that county.

Youth who have been in foster care in the past should apply at the Department of Social Services office of their county of residence for Aftercare Chafee Program services. The county of current residence should serve the youth in assisting with application for aftercare Chafee services, as necessary.

Youth are eligible if they are in school, working, or have a disabling condition. The agency shall advise the youth that they may exercise the option to remain in placement with the agency by signing an 'aftercare agreement for voluntary placement for youths 18€“21 years old.' They may sign the agreement prior to their 18th birthday, on their 18th birthday, and at any future date when placement may be appropriate.