Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Vermont

Date: March 2022

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 4904

The term 'youth' means a person between the ages of 18 and 22 who meets either of the following criteria:

  • They reached their 18th birthday while in the custody of the commissioner for the Department of Children and Families.
  • While they were between the ages of 10 and 18, they spent at least 5 of those years in the custody of the commissioner.

The department shall provide foster care services to the following:

  • Any youth who elects to continue receiving such services after reaching age 18
  • Any individual under age 22 who leaves State custody after age 16 and at or before age 18
  • Any youth (as previously defined), provided they voluntarily request additional support services

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 4904; Code of Rules 13 172 700, §§ 7002.2; 7002.3; 7002.4

The department shall require a youth receiving services under this section to be employed, to participate in a program to promote employment or remove barriers to employment, or to attend an educational or vocational program and, if the youth is working, require that they contribute to the cost of services based on a sliding scale unless the youth meets the criteria for an exception to the employment and educational or vocational program requirements of this section based on a disability or other good cause. The department shall establish rules for the requirements and exceptions under this subdivision.

In regulation: To be eligible, a youth must meet the following criteria:

  • Be between the ages of 18 and 22
  • Actively pursue the completion of a secondary education and/or actively pursue vocational, employment, or postsecondary educational goals
  • Voluntarily consent to participate in the program and sign a voluntary services agreement

To remain eligible, the youth shall participate in 40 hours per week of productive time, including one or more of the following activities, based on the individual youth's voluntary services agreement:

  • Secondary education (including homework and extracurricular activities)
  • Postsecondary education
  • Employment
  • Community involvement
  • Job search
  • Therapeutic activities
  • Other activities articulated in the youth's voluntary services agreement

A youth who does not have a high school diploma or general equivalency degree (GED) will be strongly encouraged to enroll and productively participate, through regular attendance and maintaining passing grades, in an educational program leading to high school diploma or GED.

The department may grant an exception to the preceding productive requirements. The nature and extent of the exception will depend on the youth's individual needs and may be granted for good cause where the application of the eligibility criteria would cause unnecessary hardship for the youth. Good cause exceptions may be found if any of following applies:

  • The youth has a documented disability that renders them unable to participate in 40 hours of productive time.
  • The youth is in crisis and requires temporary, intensive therapeutic intervention.
  • The youth experiences other situations or life events that would prevent them from meeting their requirements.

Any expectations for employment or productive time for full-time students shall take into consideration the youth's course load.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 4904; Code of Rules 13 172 700, § 7000.1

At least 12 months prior to a child attaining their 18th birthday, the department shall assist the child in developing a transition plan. When developing the transition plan, the child shall be informed about the range of age-appropriate services and assistance available in applying for or obtaining these services.

In regulation: A 'voluntary services agreement' is an agreement that is signed by the youth, the youth's social worker or youth development coordinator, and the supportive adult with whom the youth will live, if applicable. The agreement outlines the following:

  • The youth's goals
  • The youth's commitment to continuing education, employment, and other productive use of time
  • Agreements about the youth's financial contribution to their living expenses
  • How adults will support the youth's goals, including crisis support

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Stat. Tit. 33, § 4904; Code of Rules 13 172 700, §§ 7000.6; 7002.1; 7004

The commissioner shall establish by rule a program to provide a range of age-appropriate services for youth to ensure a successful transition to adulthood, including foster care, housing assistance, transportation, case management services, assistance with obtaining and retaining health-care coverage or employment, and other services.

In regulation: An individual who turns age 18 while in the department's custody may continue in a residential care setting or a supported community-based treatment program, but only if the placement occurred prior to the individual reaching age 18. The individual may remain in the residential care or community-based residential program setting beyond their 18th birthday for only such time as is needed for the individual to complete a plan of treatment sufficient to make a smooth transition to community living for a period not to exceed 6 months.

Adult living programs are designed to assist youth in gaining skills and resources for self-sufficiency by supporting youth in safe and stable residences with appropriate adults.

All youth are eligible for incidental-expenses grants regardless of other programs in which they may be enrolled. Grants may be awarded to cover expenses consistent with the youth's plan, such as the following:

  • Education or training expenses, including GED, American College Test (ACT), and Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT); GED testing; ACT and SAT testing; college application fees; and orientation expenses
  • Legal documents (e.g., birth certificates, passports, identification cards)
  • Driver's license (fees for permit and license, driver's education)
  • Initial household start-up items (e.g., furniture, dishes, linens)
  • Transportation costs, including the following:
    • Public transportation costs related to education or family contact
    • Gas cards
    • Bicycle and helmet
    • Minor repairs and tires for a vehicle owned by the young person (but not including the purchase of a vehicle)
  • Phone and utilities
  • Computer
  • College supplies
  • Medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • Work-related items (e.g., tools, apprentice fees, clothing)
  • One-time emergency expenses, as approved by the department
  • Other reasonable expenses