Independent Living Advocacy Presented by: • Gerard F. Glynn • Associate Professor of Law • Barry University School of Law • firstname.lastname@example.org • 321-206-5750
What are “independent living” skills? • What do we do everyday to survive? • How did we learn these skills? • How did we learn what we needed to be successful in work? • How did we learn what we needed to maintain our house? • The question for today is how can we help foster youth learn all of this?
Barriers to learning IL skills • Bad role models • Group Home and Foster Home Practices • Other Barriers • Barriers to extracurricular activities • Barriers to normal friendships • Barriers to jobs • Barriers to drivers licenses • Barriers to financial literacy
What does the law require?General IL Services • Opportunities to participate in life skills activities in their foster families and communities which are appropriate for their age • Provide training to staff and foster parents • Develop list of age appropriate activities • Maximize foster parents authority to approve activities • Provide opportunities for mentors • Give direct access to allowances
Two Major Age Groups • 13 to 18 year olds • Pre-Independent Living Services • Independent Living Services • Subsidized Independent Living • 18 to 23 year olds • After Care Services • Transitional Services • Services – Not just cash • Road To Independence Program
13-14 year olds • Assessment of skills • https://www.caseylifeskills.org/aclsa/default.htm • Annual Staffing • INDIVIDUALIZED Services based on assessment • Revised Case Plans – including educational and career plan • Child’s participation reinforced by mandate that a “good faith effort to fully explain prior to signature” on any document. • Information in Judicial Review Reports (IL Staffing information shall be put in writing and submitted as part of judicial report to the court)
13-14 year olds • Direct access to and management of allowance • Written plan for age appropriate activities developed by foster parent, child and case manager. The plan is to be reviewed no less than quarterly – 409.1451(3)(a)(3) • Ask that these be added to the court reports. • An example is included in the materials. • Immigration status clarified if needed
Educational Planning • Any child in foster care who is 13 • Set Educational Goals and Career Path • Attend 4 year college • Receive 2 year degree • Attain career and technical certificate or credential • Begin employment (apprenticeship) or enter military • Identify plan to accomplish goals • Created by child, foster parent, teacher or other school staff member. • Shall be reviewed at all judicial reviews • All of this complements requirement of interagency agreements
15-16 year olds • Staffing every six months • Assessment needs to have been done • Services should continue based on assessment • Life skills • Evaluate progress in developing needed skills • Continue with Educational Goals • Revise Case Plans to meet individual needs • Consider Subsidized Independent Living as an option for 16-17
Open Bank Accounts • Courts can remove disability of nonage of 16 or 17 foster youth to allow them to open bank accounts – F.S. § 743.044 • Child has to have completed a financial literacy class. • Should get court orders for youth at judicial review hearings. • This is a limited removal of disability of nonage.
Subsidized Independent Living • Not many children • 16 – 17 year old foster children • Permits children to remain in “foster care” while living outside a foster home • Why? • Educational stability when turning 18 in the middle of the year • Relative Placement or non-relative but want to qualify for IL Program • Receive monthly stipend and continuing services • Qualifications in Operating procedure not rules • All foster children 16-17 must be evaluated for possible SIL.
17 year old • Ensure continued staffings every 6 months • Ensure assessment has been provided within month of 17th birthday • Ensure services are being provided • Continue with educational goals • Ensure Revised Case Plan
17 Year Last Chance! • Ensure Compliance with Fla. Stat. 39.701 • Have case reviewed more frequently by court • Make sure the child comes to the hearings
17 year old • 39.701(6)(c): • “At the time of the [17 year old] judicial review hearing held pursuant to this subsection, if, in the opinion of the court, the department has not complied with its obligation as specified in the written case plan or in the provision of independent living services as required by s. 409.1451 and this subsection, the court shall issue a show cause order.”
What do 17 years olds get? 39.701(6)Have before judicial review when 17 • Medicaid Card and information to apply for Medicaid after 18. • Certified copy of birth certificate • Drivers license or Florida Identification card • Information about Social Security • Master Trust Account – full accounting • Training related to budgeting, interviewing and parenting
What do 17 years olds get? • Information related to Road-To-Independence Program. • Information that they can remain in their foster home or another foster home provider. • An open bank account • Information on public assistance • An understanding of where he or she will be living on his or her 18th birthday and how expenses will be paid.
What do 17 years olds get? • Notice of right for extended court jurisdiction for one year. • Encouragement to attend judicial review hearings • Removal of Disability of Nonage to permit entering into leases – F.S. § 743.045 • Need court order at judicial review when 17 • Limited emancipation to enter into leases • To “contract for the lease of residential property upon the upon the youth’s 18th birthday”
Post 18 Year Olds • Three Programs • Aftercare Services • Transitional Services • Road To Independence Program (RTI) • New name – not scholarship to avoid tax and other federal eligibility programs
Aftercare Services • Not about cash but about services • Assist former foster youth in their efforts to develop the skills and abilities necessary to live independently • Not just referrals but should include services • The obligation can be met by referrals • A youth can get emergency cash for housing, electric, water, gas, sewer service and emergency food to prevent homelessness
Aftercare Services • Services to be provided include • Mentoring and tutoring • Mental Health Services • Substance Abuse Counseling • Life Skills Classes • Including credit management and preventive health activities • Parenting Classes • Job and career Skills Training • Counselor Consultations • Financial Assistance • Financial Literacy Skills Training • Shall be provided expeditiously
Transitional Services • Services that are “critical to the young adult’s own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and to develop a personal support system.” • Community-based care provider and youth shall develop a joint transition plan • Young adult must have specific tasks to complete and be accountable
Transitional Services • Housing • Counseling • Employment • Education • Mental Health • Disability • Financial • Available for three months but youth may apply again
Road to Independence Program – Eligibility • Turn 18 in Foster care, or adopted after reaching the age of 16 while in foster care, or placed in guardianship after turning 16 • Spent at least 6 months in foster care • More restrictive if adopted or placed in guardianship • Must be 6 months within the 12 months immediately preceding placement or adoption • Some under 18 year olds can qualify if • Received a regular or special high school diploma or special certificate of completion
Road to Independence Program – Eligibility • Stay in school or return to school full-time • High school • Post-secondary • Adult education program • Exception to full-time if disability prevents full-time attendance • Resident of the State • Making appropriate progress in academic program • Only 20% qualify
Road to Independence ProgramWhat does a young adult get? • A financial award not to exceed minimum wage 40 hour week equivalent ($892) • Based on living and educational needs of recipient • No award shall be less than $25 • Awards shall be made by direct deposit unless opted out by youth • May remain in a foster home if they desire after 18
Road to Independence Program • Department shall assist in application • Allow special diploma or special certificate kids • Must apply for grants and other scholarships • DCF must assist in this effort • Must apply early – connect with school counselors • Program continues as long as student • Considered full time by the institution • Maintaining appropriate progress as required by the institution
Road to Independence Program • Program terminates upon reaching educational goal or age 23 whichever comes first
Tuition & Fee Exemption • The following students are exempt from the payment of tuition and fees, including lab fees, at a school district that provides postsecondary career and technical programs, community college, or state university: • Student who was in the custody of the Department at the time he or she reached the age of 18 • Relative Care receiving benefits from foster care • Student who was adopted from foster care (at any age) • After spending 6 months in foster care was placed in a guardianship by the court • This is an exemption – not a waiver or scholarship
Medicaid Coverage • Any young adult “eligible” for post 18 services receives Medicaid until he or she reaches the age of 21. • How do we get them to access the services?
Applicable to all Former Foster Youth Recipient can designate in writing a third party payee for Aftercare, Transitional or RTI Program funds • Decisions on acceptance, rejection or termination must be timely – within 10 days • Decisions must be put in writing • Appellate Rights • Go to juvenile court until 19 • Administrative Appeal • Case management continues upon the states wishes and needs of the young adult formerly in foster care • A young adult who is eligible for any of the post 18 programs and desires shall be allowed to reside in a licensed foster home or group care provider.
What happens when a child returns after leaving at 18? • Able to access these services prior to age 23 • Aftercare • RTI Program • Transitional Services
Other Aspects to Law • Each Community Based Care Lead Agency has to provide a plan on implementing services for over 18 year olds • Statutorily a financial report/plan on meeting needs within the budget • Practically an opportunity to more expansive strategic planning • Upon Completion of plan – Agencies can purchase housing, transportation and employment services • Funding – there is new money but less federal money • Programs are available “to the extent funding is available”
Importance of Advocacy Outside the Courtroom • Educational Plans • Importance to have goals • Obligations of specific persons • Independent Living Plans • Case Plans • Services to the Child not obligations of the child • Tool for enforcements
No foster care youth who is eligible for services should be homeless when they turn 18!!!
Presented by: Gerard F. Glynn Associate Professor of Law Barry University School of Law email@example.com 321-206-5750 Independent Living & New Legislation