Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Texas

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 263.6015; 263.602; 263.6021; 264.121

A young adult is assigned trial independence status when either of the following applies to the young adult:

  • They do not enter extended foster care at the time of their 18th birthday.
  • They exit extended foster care before their 21st birthday.

Trial independence is mandatory for a period of at least 6 months beginning on either of the following:

  • The date of the young adult's 18th birthday for a young adult who does enter extended foster care
  • The date the young adult exits extended foster care

A court may order trial independence status extended for a period that exceeds the mandatory period but does not exceed 1 year from the date the trial independence period commences. A young adult who enters or reenters extended foster care after a period of trial independence must complete a new period of trial independence. The trial independence status of a young adult ends on the young adult's 21st birthday.

A court that had jurisdiction over a young adult on the day before the young adult's 18th birthday continues to have extended jurisdiction over the young adult and shall retain the case on the court's docket while the young adult is in extended foster care and during a trial independence period.

A court that had jurisdiction over a young adult on the day before the young adult's 18th birthday may, at the young adult's request, render an order that extends the court's jurisdiction beyond the end of trial independence if the young adult receives transitional living services from the Department of Family and Protective Services. Unless the young adult reenters extended foster care before the end of the court's extended jurisdiction, the extended jurisdiction of the court under this section terminates on the earlier of either of the following:

  • The young adult's 21st birthday
  • The date the young adult withdraws consent to the extension of the court's jurisdiction in writing or in court

The 'Transitional Living Services Program' is a program for youth who are age 14 or older but younger than age 21 and are currently or were formerly in foster care that assists youth in transitioning from foster care to independent living. The program provides transitional living services, Preparation for Adult Living Program services, and Education and Training Voucher Program services.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Fam. Code § 264.855

If the department first entered into a permanency care assistance agreement with a kinship provider for a child in foster care after the child's 16th birthday, the department may continue to provide permanency care assistance payments until the last day of the month of the child's 21st birthday, provided the child is doing any of the following:

  • Regularly attending high school or enrolled in a program leading toward a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate
  • Regularly attending an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational or technical program
  • Participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment
  • Employed for at least 80 hours a month
  • Incapable of any of the preceding activities due to a documented medical condition

Placement Agreements

Citation: Fam. Code §§ 263.601; 263.602

The term 'extended foster care' means a residential living arrangement in which a young adult voluntarily delegates to the department responsibility for the young adult's placement and care and in which the young adult resides with a foster parent or other residential services provider that is licensed or approved by the department or verified by a licensed or certified child-placing agency.

A 'young adult' is a person who was in the conservatorship of the department on the day before the person's 18th birthday.

A court with extended jurisdiction over a young adult in extended foster care shall conduct extended foster care review hearings every 6 months for the purpose of reviewing and making findings regarding the following:

  • Whether the young adult's living arrangement is safe and appropriate and whether the department has made reasonable efforts to place the young adult in the least restrictive environment necessary to meet the young adult's needs
  • Whether the department is making reasonable efforts to finalize the permanency plan that is in effect for the young adult, including a permanency plan for independent living
  • Whether, for a young adult whose permanency plan is independent living, the following apply:
    • The young adult participated in the development of the plan of service.
    • The young adult's plan of service reflects the independent living skills and appropriate services needed to achieve independence by the projected date.
    • The young adult continues to make reasonable progress in developing the skills needed to achieve independence by the projected date.
  • Whether additional services that the department is authorized to provide are needed to meet the needs of the young adult

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Fam. Code § 264.121

The department shall address the unique challenges facing children in foster care in the conservatorship of the department who must transition to independent living by doing the following:

  • Expanding efforts to improve transition planning
  • Extending foster care eligibility and transition services for youth up to age 21
  • Extending Medicaid coverage for youth in foster care and youth formerly in foster care up to age 21 with a single application at the time the youth leaves foster care

Experiential life skills training consists of training in practical activities, including grocery shopping, meal preparation and cooking, performing basic household tasks, and, when appropriate, using public transportation. The training must include a financial literacy education program that includes the following:

 

  • Provides instruction on the following:
    • Obtaining and interpreting a credit score
    • Protecting, repairing, and improving a credit score
    • Avoiding predatory lending practices
    • Saving money and accomplishing financial goals through prudent financial management practices
    • Using basic banking and accounting skills, including balancing a checkbook
    • Using debit and credit cards responsibly
    • Understanding a paycheck and items withheld from a paycheck
    • Understanding the time requirements and process for filing Federal taxes
    • Protecting financial, credit, and identifying information in personal and professional relationships
    • Forms of identity and credit theft
    • Using insurance to protect against the risk of financial loss
  • Assists a youth who has a source of income to do the following:
    • Establish a savings plan and, if available, a savings account that the youth can independently manage
    • Prepare a monthly budget that includes rent, utilities, telephone service, internet service, and other reasonable expenses
  • For youth who are age 17 or older, lessons related to civic engagement, including the process for registering to vote, the places to vote, and resources for information regarding upcoming elections

If, at the time a youth is discharged from foster care, the youth is at least age 18 or has had the disabilities of minority removed, the department shall provide to the youth, no later than the 30th day before the date the youth is discharged from foster care, the following information and documents unless the youth already has the information or document:

  • The youth's birth certificate
  • The youth's immunization records
  • The information contained in the youth's health passport
  • A State-issued personal identification certificate
  • A Social Security card or a replacement Social Security card, if appropriate
  • Proof of enrollment in Medicaid or an insurance card from a health plan that provides health coverage for the youth

The department shall require a person with whom the department contracts for transitional living services for youth in foster care to provide or assist youth in obtaining the following:

  • Housing services
  • Job training and employment services
  • College preparation services
  • Services that will assist the youth in obtaining a general education development certificate
  • Services that will assist the youth in developing skills in food preparation
  • Nutrition education that promotes healthy food choices
  • A savings or checking account if the youth is at least age 18 and has a source of income
  • Any other appropriate transitional living service identified by the department