Extension of Foster Care Beyond Age 18 - Wisconsin

Date:

Availability of Foster Care to Age 21

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.366

This section applies to a person who is a full-time student at a secondary school, or its vocational or technical equivalent, for whom an individualized education program is in effect and to whom any of the following applies:

  • The person is placed in a foster home, group home, or residential care center for children and youth; in the home of a relative other than a parent; or in a supervised independent living arrangement that terminates when the person reaches age 18.
  • The person is in the guardianship and custody of an agency under an order that terminates on the date on which the person reaches age 18.
  • The person is placed in a shelter care facility on the date on which an order specified previously terminates.

No less than 120 days before an order for placement terminates, the agency primarily responsible for providing services under the order shall request the person who is the subject of the order to indicate whether they wish to be discharged from out-of-home care on termination of the order or wish to continue in out-of-home care under a voluntary agreement. If the person indicates that they wish to continue in out-of-home care under a voluntary agreement, the agency and the person shall enter into such an agreement.

If, at a hearing, the court determines that the person who is the subject of an order for placement understands that they may continue in out-of-home care but wish to be discharged from that care, the court shall advise the person that they may enter into a voluntary agreement at any time before they are granted a high school or high school equivalency diploma or reach age 21, whichever occurs first, as long as they are a full-time students at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent and an individualized education program is in effect for them. If the court determines that the person wishes to continue in out-of-home care under a voluntary agreement, the court shall order the agency primarily responsible for providing services to the person to provide transition-to-independent-living services for the person under that voluntary agreement.

Requirements for Remaining in Placement

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.57; Admin. Code §§ DCF 21.03; 21.05

Counties may provide funding for the maintenance of any child who meets the following criteria:

  • Is age 18 or older
  • Is enrolled in and regularly attending a secondary education classroom program leading to a high school diploma
  • Received funding under § 48.569(1)(d) or 46.495(1)(d) immediately prior to their 18th birthday
  • Is living in a foster home, group home, residential care center for children and youth, a subsidized guardianship home, a qualifying residential family-based treatment facility or similar facility regulated in another State, or a supervised independent living arrangement

The term 'child' includes a person aged 18 or older, if any of the following applies:

  • The person is younger than age 19, is a full-time student in good academic standing at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent, and is reasonably expected to complete their program of study and be granted a high school or high school equivalency diploma.
  • The person is younger than age 21, is a full-time student in good academic standing at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent, has an individualized education program in effect for them, and is placed in the home of the kinship care relative under an order that terminates after they reach age 18 or under a voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement.

In regulation: A youth who was discharged from out-of-home care by aging out and who did not immediately enter a voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement or by termination of a voluntary agreement may be eligible to reenter out-of-home care if all the following conditions are met:

  • The youth is age 18 or older but younger than age 21.
  • The youth is a full-time student at a secondary school or its technical or vocational equivalent.
  • There is an individualized education program in effect for the youth.

The agency shall allow a youth who meets the eligibility criteria to reenter out-of-home care at least two times. The agency may use its discretion in determining whether to allow a youth who meets the eligibility criteria to reenter out-of-home care more than two times. Issues the agency may want to consider include whether the youth is homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless, is pregnant or parenting, or has significant mental health issues. The agency may also want to consider whether the youth's last discharge from out-of-home care was pursuant to an independent living transition-to-discharge plan that was agreed to by the youth and the agency.

The voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement shall be on a form prescribed by the department and include all the following conditions:

  • The youth is age 18 or older but younger than age 21.
  • The youth is a full-time student at a secondary school or its technical or vocational equivalent.
  • There is an individualized education program in effect for the youth.
  • The youth will participate in activities assigned by the agency to prepare the youth for independent living.
  • The youth will comply with school attendance requirements in the youth's individualized education program, school district policies, and truancy laws and ordinances.
  • The youth will not be missing from their out-of-home care placement for more than 2 weeks without contact with the agency.
  • If there is any change in the youth's circumstances that affects a provision of the voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement, the youth will notify the agency within 10 calendar days after the effective date of the change.

Placement Agreements

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.366

A person as previously described and the agency primarily responsible for providing services to the person may enter into a transition-to-independent-living agreement under which the person continues in out-of-home care and continues to be a full-time student at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent under an individualized education program until the date on which the person reaches age 21, is granted a high school or high school equivalency diploma, or terminates the agreement, whichever occurs first. The agency will provide services to the person to assist them in transitioning to independent living.

No later than 150 days after a transition-to-independent-living agreement is entered into, the agency primarily responsible for providing services under the agreement shall petition the court for a determination that the person's placement in out-of-home care under the agreement is in the best interests of the person. The request shall contain the name and address of the placement and specific information showing why the placement is in the best interests of the person and shall have a copy of the agreement attached to it. If the court finds that the person's placement in out-of-home care under the agreement is in the best interests of the person, the court shall grant an order determining that placement in out-of-home care under the agreement is in the best interests of the person.

The person who is the subject of an agreement may terminate the agreement at any time during the term of the agreement by notifying the agency primarily responsible for providing services under the agreement in writing that the person wishes to terminate the agreement. A person who terminates a voluntary agreement may request the agency primarily responsible for providing services to the person under the agreement to enter into a new voluntary agreement at any time before the person is granted a high school or high school equivalency diploma or reaches age 21, whichever occurs first, as long as the person is a full-time student at a secondary school or its vocational or technical equivalent and an individualized education program is in effect for them. If the request meets the conditions set forth in agency rules, the agency shall enter into a new voluntary agreement with that person.

Transition Supports Provided

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.385; Admin. Code §§ DCF 21.02; 21.06

A plan for making the transition from out-of-home care to independent living shall be personalized at the direction of the child; shall be as detailed as the child directs; and shall include specific options for obtaining housing, health care, education, mentoring and continuing support services, and workforce support and employment services. The child welfare agency shall ensure that the child is in possession of the following:

  • A certified copy of their birth record
  • Their Social Security card
  • Information on maintaining health-care coverage
  • A copy of their health-care records
  • Either a driver's license or a State-issued identification card

If the child is not in possession of any of those documents or that information, the agency shall assist the child in obtaining any missing document or information. This subsection does not apply to a child who has been placed in out-of-home care for less than 6 months.

In regulation: The 'independent living transition-to-discharge plan' is the plan for each youth exiting care on or after age 18 that contains provisions to ensure that basic resources are in place for the youth's transition to adulthood, including all the following:

  • The youth's anticipated date of and age at discharge from out-of-home care
  • Information on how the youth will obtain and secure housing
  • Information on how the youth will manage health-care needs
  • Information on whether the youth intends to continue with formal education and how the youth will attain their educational goals
  • Techniques for building relationships with supportive adults
  • Employment services that are available to the youth
  • Workforce support that is available to the youth
  • The continuation of necessary supportive independent living services after the youth leaves out-of-home care
  • Information on how the youth can obtain essential documents

Within 24 hours after the voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement is signed, the child welfare agency shall place the youth in out-of-home care or the home of a nonrelative person, or shall make other arrangements for housing for the youth. The agency shall place the youth in a long-term out-of-home care placement within 10 days after the voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement is signed.