Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Washington

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Rev. Code §§ 13.34.267; 74.13.031; Admin. Code § 110-90-0020

If the court maintains the dependency proceeding of a youth pursuant to this section, the youth is eligible to receive extended foster care services pursuant to § 74.13.031, subject to the youth's continuing eligibility and agreement to participate.

A dependent youth receiving extended foster care services is a party to the dependency proceeding. The youth's parent or guardian must be dismissed from the dependency proceeding when the youth reaches age 18. The court shall dismiss the dependency proceeding for any youth who is a dependent in foster care and who, at age 18, does not meet any of the subsequently described criteria or does not agree to participate in the program.

The court shall order a youth participating in extended foster care services to be under the placement and care authority of the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, subject to the youth's continuing agreement to participate in extended foster care services. The department's placement and care authority over a youth receiving extended foster care services is solely for the purpose of providing services and does not create a legal responsibility for the actions of the youth receiving extended foster care services.

To be eligible for extended foster care services, the nonminor dependent must have been dependent and in foster care at the time that they reached age 18. If the dependency case of the nonminor dependent was dismissed pursuant to § 13.34.267, they may receive extended foster care services pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement or pursuant to an order of dependency issued by the court. A nonminor dependent whose dependency case was dismissed by the court must have requested extended foster care services before reaching age 21. Eligible nonminor dependents may unenroll and reenroll in extended foster care through a voluntary placement agreement an unlimited number of times between ages 18 and 21.

The department shall allow a youth who has received extended foster care services, but lost their eligibility, to reenter the extended foster care program an unlimited number of times through a voluntary placement agreement when they meet the eligibility criteria again.

The department shall have authority to provide independent living services to youth, including individuals who have reached age 18 and have not reached age 23, who are or have been in the department's care and custody or who are or were nonminor dependents.

In regulation: Extended foster care is a program offered to young adults, ages 18-21, who turn age 18 while in foster care, to enable them to do the following:

  • Complete a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate
  • Complete a postsecondary academic or vocational program
  • Participate in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment
  • Be employed for 80 hours or more per month

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Rev. Code § 74.13.031; Admin. Code §§ 110-90-0080; 110-90-0190

The department shall provide continued extended foster care services to nonminor dependents who meet the following requirements:

  • Enrolled in a secondary education program or a secondary education equivalency program
  • Enrolled and participating in a postsecondary academic or vocational education program
  • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment
  • Engaged in employment for 80 hours or more per month
  • Not able to engage in any of the preceding activities due to a documented medical condition

In regulation: Participation in extended foster care is voluntary. A youth who does not agree to participate in extended foster care may request the court to dismiss their dependency case.

Unless otherwise authorized by court order, the youth must do the following to remain in the extended foster care program:

  • Agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written extended foster care agreement
  • Maintain the standard of eligibility as set by the youth's academic program, employment-related program, or employment status
  • Participate in the case plan, including monthly health and safety visits
  • Acknowledge that the department has responsibility for the youth's care and placement by authorizing the department to have access to records related to court-ordered medical, mental health, drug or alcohol treatment, and additional necessary services; educational records needed to determine continuing eligibility for the program; and medical records related to a documented medical condition for the purposes of qualifying for the program
  • Remain in the approved foster care placement and follow placement rules, which include the following:
    • Staying in the placement identified by the department or approved by the court
    • Obtaining approval from the caseworker and notifying the caregiver for extended absences from the placement of more than 3 days
    • Complying with court orders and any specific rules developed in collaboration by the youth, caregiver, and caseworker

Placement Agreements

Citation: Rev. Stat. § 74.13.336

A youth who has reached age 18 may request extended foster care services at any time before they reach age 21 if either of the following apply:

  • The dependency proceeding of the youth was dismissed at the time that they reached age 18.
  • The court, after holding the dependency case open, has dismissed the case because the youth became ineligible for extended foster care services.

Upon a request for extended foster care services by a youth, a determination that the youth is eligible for extended foster care services, and the completion of a voluntary placement agreement, the department shall provide extended foster care services to the youth. To continue receiving extended foster care services after entering into a voluntary placement agreement with the department, the youth must agree to the entry of an order of dependency within 180 days of the date that the youth is placed in foster care pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement.

A youth may enter into a voluntary placement agreement for extended foster care services. A youth may transition among the eligibility categories identified in § 74.13.031 while under the same voluntary placement agreement, provided that the youth remains eligible for extended foster care services during the transition. For the purposes of this section, a 'voluntary placement agreement' is a written voluntary agreement between a nonminor dependent who agrees to submit to the care and authority of the department for the purposes of participating in the extended foster care program.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Rev. Stat. §§ 74.13.031; 74.13.540; 74.15.020; Pol. & Proc. Man. § 4310

The department shall make efforts to ensure that extended foster care services maximize Medicaid reimbursements. This must include the department ensuring that health and mental health extended foster care providers participate in Medicaid, unless the condition of the extended foster care youth requires specialty care that is not available among participating Medicaid providers or there are no participating Medicaid providers in the area.

'Independent living services' include assistance in the following:

  • Achieving basic educational requirements, such as a high school equivalency certificate or enrollment in vocational and technical training programs offered in the community and at vocational colleges
  • Obtaining and maintaining employment
  • Accomplishing basic life skills, such as money management, nutrition, preparing meals, and cleaning house

A baseline skill level in a youth's ability to function productively and independently shall be determined at entry. Performance shall be measured and must demonstrate improvement from involvement in the program.

Each recipient shall have a plan for achieving independent living skills by the time the recipient reaches age 21. The plan shall be written within the first 30 days of placement and reviewed every 90 days. A recipient who fails to consistently adhere to the elements of the plan shall be subject to reassessment by the professional staff of the program and may be declared ineligible to receive services.

'Transitional living services' include, at a minimum, the following:

  • Educational services, including basic literacy and computational skills training, either in local alternative or public high schools or in a high school equivalency program that leads to obtaining a high school equivalency degree
  • Assistance and counseling related to obtaining vocational training or higher education, job readiness, job search assistance, and placement programs
  • Counseling and instruction in life skills, such as money management, home management, consumer skills, parenting, health care, access to community resources, and transportation and housing options
  • Individual and group counseling
  • Establishing networks with Federal agencies and State and local organizations, including the following:
    • The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration programs, including the Workforce Investment Act, which administers private industry councils and Job Corps
    • Vocational rehabilitation
    • Volunteer programs

In policy: Caseworkers must do the following:

  • Assist youth in obtaining and reviewing their consumer credit report annually and assist in identifying and correcting any discrepancies
  • Discuss services and activities needed to support the youth and their transition to adulthood, including the following topics:
    • Education
    • Employment
    • Housing
    • Health insurance
    • Mentors and continuing supports
    • Independent living goals
  • Prior to the youth's 18th birthday or throughout the life of the case as needed, provide the following items to the youth:
    • Certified or original birth certificate
    • Social Security card
    • State-issued photo identification
    • Copies of all medical and education records
    • Health insurance card
    • A copy of the dependent or ward of the court verification letter to prove they were previously in foster care