Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Tennessee

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-417; Pol. Man. § 16.52

The Department of Children's Services (DCS) is authorized to develop a program to provide services to youth who are transitioning to adulthood from State custody. Services may be provided on a voluntary basis to any person who is at least age 18 but younger than age 21 who was in the custody of the department at the time of the person's 18th birthday.

Services also may be made available to any person who meets the requirements that follow but refused such services at the time of the person's 18th birthday if at any time the person seeks to regain services prior to the person's 21st birthday.

In policy: DCS extends foster care services to young adults ages 18-21 who meet established title IV-E criteria and voluntarily agree to accept extension or reestablishment of foster care services as a young adult.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Code § 37-2-417; Pol. Man. § 16.52

Services may be provided on a voluntary basis to any person who is at least age 18 but younger than age 21 who was in the custody of the department at the time of the person's 18th birthday and who meets the following requirements:

  • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
  • Enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or career and technical education
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month
  • Incapable of doing any of the preceding activities due to a medical condition, including a developmental or intellectual condition, with the incapability being supported by regularly updated information in the permanency plan of the person

In policy: Young adults released from the custody of DCS are eligible to continue receiving foster care services, or have foster care services reestablished, on the following basis:

  • Young adults who emancipate to adulthood directly from DCS custody at or after age 18 are eligible.
  • The young adult meets the following conditions:
    • Is a United States citizen or meets certain other guidelines to be considered a 'qualifying alien'
    • Resides in the State of Tennessee
    • Does not have countable assets exceeding $10,000
    • Voluntarily signs a voluntary placement agreement to accept foster care as an adult, including acceptance of a DCS placement option or supervised independent living setting
    • Is completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential
    • Is enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education
    • Is not capable of doing any of the activities described in § 37-2-417(b)(1)-(4) due to a medical condition, including a developmental or intellectual condition, with the incapability being supported by regularly updated information in the family permanency plan

Young adults eligible according to the preceding criteria may return and request reestablishment of foster care until their 21st birthday.

Young adults may be eligible to receive foster care services until the family permanency plan goals are met and there is an agreement by the Child and Family Team that the young adult is reasonably capable of self-sufficiency. Eligibility must otherwise end upon the young adult's 21st birthday.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Pol. Man. § 16.51

In policy: A transition plan is developed for all youth in State custody age 17 and older that becomes the ongoing planning document for young adults ages 18-21 receiving an extension or reestablishment of foster care services.

DCS's Independent Living Program is designed to assist and prepare youth in foster care in making the transition from foster care to adulthood by providing opportunities to obtain life skills for self-sufficiency, independence, and permanency.

Independent living (IL) planning is focused on helping youth attain life skills needed for a successful transition to adulthood. The IL plan is completed using IL strength and need categories and is a section of the family permanency plan. Youth in State custody aged 14-19 are encouraged to take an active role in planning the activities and services that they need.

Emancipated young adults receiving extension or reestablishment of foster care services will have a permanency plan goal that is unique. Transition planning for these emancipated young adults is completed in the context of a child and family team meeting within the specified time frames, using IL strength and need categories.

The following areas addressed must be personalized at the direction of the young adult and be as detailed as they choose:

  • Life skills
  • Social skills and supportive relationships
  • Essential documents
  • Education
  • Physical and mental health, including action steps that address development of a health-care proxy and continuation of health insurance
  • Employment, housing, finances and money management, transportation, and credit check (optional)

The transition plan is signed by all parties, and copies are provided to the youth and other individuals involved in the development of the plan.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Code §§ 37-2-603; 37-2-604; Pol. Man. §§ 16.52; 16.53

The private, nonprofit community is urged to establish a network to provide information, assistance, services, and supports to persons ages 16-24 who were in foster care on the person's 18th birthday and to persons ages 16-24 who have been in foster care at any time after the person's 14th birthday. The resource centers shall provide or facilitate the assistance necessary for the following:

  • Deal with the challenges and barriers associated with the transition into adulthood and early adult years
  • Support postsecondary education, vocational training, and job skills development for that person
  • Find and retain employment, housing, transportation, parenting and family support, health care, and mental health care
  • Navigate systems and procedures that impact the person's education, employment, health, mental welfare, and basic needs

These services shall be available at any time until the person reaches age 24, regardless of whether the youth elects to remain in a voluntary extension of foster care arrangement with the department or the youth chooses to terminate any relationship with the State.

In preparing a child in foster care for independent living prior to the child reaching age 18, the department shall provide information on the resource centers to all children older than age 16 in foster care. The information shall include the address of the nearest resource center and services available from the center. Each child shall be encouraged to maintain periodic contact with resource center personnel and to provide current and accurate residence and contact information to the resource center. Ninety days before a child leaves State custody, the department shall notify the child of all information, services, web sites, and assistance available postcustody.

In policy: The purpose of the program is to assist young adults, ages 18-21, transition to adulthood with the skills, knowledge, experience, and supports necessary for them to obtain education, housing, employment, health services, and permanent supportive relationships. Eligible young adults receive the following services as needed and applicable based on assessment, decisions made by the young adult and their teams, and continued availability of funding. These services include the following:

  • IL wraparound services to assist with expenses related to education, housing, transportation, job training, and other items as approved by the Office of Independent Living
  • Housing assistance through placement support or supervised IL options
  • Case management service
  • Scholarship services, including education and training vouchers
  • An IL allowance to assist with expenses related to independent living and postsecondary education and training opportunities