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What’s Involved with Aging-Out of the Foster Care System? The Big Picture: Transitioning to Adulthood


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Education & Protocol Training for …

Education & Protocol Training for
Philadelphia Defender Association, Child Advocate Unit

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  • 1. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training Education & Protocol Training for Defender Association Child Advocate UnitWhat’s Involved with Aging-Out of the Foster Care System? The Big Picture: Transitioning to Adulthood Elizabeth E. Brait April 2003 1
  • 2. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingAcknowledgementsI would like to thank Gleniese Davis, of Children Services, Inc., Cleopatra Anderson of DHS,Ron Sprangler, of AIC, Jenny Pokempner, of Juvenile Law Center, Michael Lewis, JoyceBatchelor, and Jim Haley, of Philadelphia Defender Association for their time and interest.Interviews and meetings with these individuals had an important impact in helping meunderstand the whole picture as I have described in this protocol. I also would like to thank JoanDavitt, my professor at Bryn Mawr College School of Social Work and Social Research, whooffered me unlimited and useful support and guidance to be able to write this protocol. Also, RoyZipris of Philadelphia Defender Association, who read my first draft and offered editorialsupport. I want to thank all the social workers and lawyers (at DACAU and outside agencies)who I have had the good fortune to get to know and work with who have helped me understandthe child welfare system. Most importantly, I want to acknowledge all the youth whose files Ihave read and those who I have met. I attribute much of my learning from the information I havelearned about their lives. 2
  • 3. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training We have put in place here the building blocks of giving all of our children what should be their fundamental right– a chance at a decent, safe home; an honorable, orderly, positive upbringing; a chance to live out their dreams and fulfill their capacities. –President William J. ClintonPart I: The Adoption and Safe Family Act of 1997In 1997, President Clinton enacted ASFA in an effort to modify the 1980 Adoption Assistanceand Child Welfare Act so that neglected and abused youth were guaranteed safety. He did so, bychanging the approach of the child welfare system from family centered to child centered.The intention of ASFA is to preserve the health and safety of the child first. ASFA “took furthersteps to promote safety and permanence for children who have been alleged or determined to beabused and/or neglected (Children Defense Fund Web site, 2003).”• ASFA included additional guidelines that provided states incentives to change policies and practices in order to promote child safety as paramount. Adoption or other permanent options should be pursued when a child is taken from an unsafe home. Under ASFA, foster care is intended to be a temporary placement.• ASFA imposed new timelines to promote moving youth out of temporary foster care and into permanency more quickly; this including two mandatory hearings.• First hearing: within 12 months of foster care placement a permanency hearing must be held. At fifteen months of placement a termination of parental rights (TPR) must be held. TPR: • The court must find grounds for termination(the grounds are state specific)• Adopted children with special needs youth are ensured health coverage.• ASFA states that “reasonable efforts must be made in order to preserve and reunify the family. However, under ASFA, the “reasonable efforts” requirement focuses more on the child then on the welfare of the family. Under the Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, it was the reverse.• In aggravated circumstances, ASFA excuses the state (bypasses) from making “reasonable efforts to reunify or to preserve the family.” Aggravated circumstances include: if a parent committed voluntary or involuntary murder of another child of that parent, felony assault, aided and abetted, attempted, conspired, solicited to commit murder, or injury to a child, or another child of that parent (American Bar Association, 1998). 3
  • 4. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingPermanency Options Under ASFAASFA Permanency Options for Youth in Foster Care for PA Permanency Options DescriptionReturn to Parents Once parents are determined no longer to be a risk for the child’s safety and well being.Adoption Termination of parental rights must be filedKinship A family member who takes on legal guardianshipSubsidized Permanent “Allows caregivers to receive support (until the youth is 18), as in fosterLegal Custody (SPLC) care, but eliminates the court appearances and deadlines that the law imposes on children in foster care (Benson, 2003).” Eligibility for services for the youth, such as board extensions and SIL are eliminated once youth turns 18. Since support is terminated at 18, then what happens to the youth? The permanent guardians no longer receive services and could choose to remove themselves from being responsible for care of the youth?Alternate Planned Permanent Only referred to if the previous four goals can not be obtained. Essentially,Living Arrangement (APPLA) this is long-term foster care.Alternatives, Not Recognized as Permanency Options under ASFANot recognized under ASFA as Permanency OptionsLong-term foster care or APPLA According to ASFA, APPLA is not considered a permanency option in PA. Under ASFA, foster care is intended to be a temporary living situation, and long-term foster care or APPLA, can be considered only after all options have been pursued.Independent living Independent living can be a permanency option; however, it is not explicitly stated in ASFA or in the PA Juvenile Act. A youth must be legally emancipated (before or after 18).How Does Permanency Planning Under ASFA Affect Teenagers?Currently, there is a high percentage of teenage youth in foster care (Charles, K., et al, 2000, p.10). Additionally, “between 20,000 and 25,000 youth age out of the foster care system each yearunprepared or marginally prepared to transition into adulthood (Charles, K., et al, 2000, p. 10).Many of these youth end up in homeless shelters, on welfare, in prison, and have unplannedpregnancies.Research done by the University of Oklahoma, National Resource Center for Youth andDevelopment (NRCYD, 2000) has focused on what permanency means for children in thedependent system, specifically for adolescents. Additionally, their research regardingadolescence also focused on the role of social workers, problems that are prevalent for youth incare, and barriers to achieving permanence. NRCYD discovered that adolescents want the “long-term stability they feel a family will bring even as adults (Charles, K., et al, 2000, p. 8).” Thestudy suggests that the child welfare system needs to develop better strategies and collaborationwith other agencies to address building community and family bridges for youths that exit thedependent system. They recommends that social workers need to treat each client individually,communicate directly with the client, and have a solid understanding of developmentallyappropriate behavior, especially regarding the psychological defenses and risks that might affect 4
  • 5. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Traininga youth’s developmental growth. Many youths in care have experienced abuse, neglect, or wereforcibly removed from their homes, that resulted in trust and mental health issues.NRCYD 5 Barriers to Achieving Permanence for Adolescents In The Dependent System:• The first barrier, permanency, is not often prioritized for adolescents due to their developmental stage, individuation. Often adolescents are opposed to adoption or permanency placement. The results of the NRCYD study suggest that the adolescent’s rejection is due to their own “fear of rejection, loyalty to birth family, lack of knowledge about permanency options, and/or a desire to stay with siblings (Charles, K., et al, 2000, p. 14).”• The second barrier: sequential case management is the primary method of practice. Instead, NRCYD recommends that concurrent planning for adolescents is more effective and could reduce the length of time youth stay in foster care by focusing on the goals for an adolescent, as well as meeting the guidelines of ASFA.• The third barrier: the limited permanency options and the limitations of the permanency options available for older youth in care. In fact, NRCYD remind us that many adults enjoy working with adolescents, challenging the myth that questions the unadoptability of adolescents.• The fourth barrier: family and/or significant others often have limited involvement in the permanency planning.With the integration of ASFA, some of these barriers have begun to be addressed by someworkers. The current options available for dependent youth for permanency are still limited, anddo not address the needs of youth in all situations.Additional Criticism of ASFA • The current options available for dependent youth for permanency are still limited, and do not address the needs of youth in all situations. In PA, DHS recognizes SPLC as a permanency option. Opponents of SPLC believe that SPLC is not a permanency option. When the youth turns eighteen, the permanent guardian no longer receives services from DHS, and could choose to no longer care for the youth. Youths that agreed to SPLC are no longer eligible for services after eighteen, such as board extensions and SIL. What happens to these youth? There needs to be a middle ground that addresses the gap between long-term placement and SPLC, neither SPLC nor long-term foster care offer the panacea that fills this gap. • The new timeline for moving youth out of foster care does not address the reality of case over load pre-ASFA. In addition, the NRCYD identified that “the time needed to implement and maintain a biannual review system of the hundred’s of DHS custody cases for children who had been removed from their homes, after AFSA was implemented exacerbated the case overload problem (Zahn, C., 2000).” • “Courts do not have unbridled discretion to engage in the kind of social engineering that could result if they were allowed to remove children simply by deciding [that] another 5
  • 6. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training home offers more advantages then another (Stein, 2000, p. 589).” However, evidence has shown that judicial discretion is implemented in cases that uphold the requirements of ASFA. A similar argument can be made regarding the role of social workers and their use of discretion when upholding the tenets of ASFA. Some believe that social workers have been influenced by their personal moral belief system when interpreting the safety of a youth, as opposed to looking at the situation from a purely legal or more objective lens.• In some jurisdictions, child welfare cases are heard by courts of general jurisdiction, not specifically a family or juvenile courtroom. In these cases, the future of the youth may not be addressed appropriately because the judge may not have the experience or expertise found in a family or juvenile courtroom. However, some family and juvenile courtrooms may have a similar problem of inexperienced judges, who need to be trained on issues that related to youth in care and permanency.• ASFA has been criticized for positioning parental rights’ against their children’s rights (Stein, 2000). It is argued that, because the focus is primarily on the safety and well being of the youth, the relationship between the youth and his/her parent or guardian gets factored out, therefore positioning parent rights against children’s rights.• The intent of ASFA is to increase the number of youth available for adoption, however only a small percentage of the total youth that are ready for adoption, get adopted (Stein, 2000, p.591). The majority of these youth who are ready for adoption, but never get adopted are older. According to the literature, some of the reasons that adoptions are not pursued are because these youth are “older, of color, part of a sibling group, or physically or mentally disabled (US General Accounting Office, 1999).” 6
  • 7. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training “It is ironic that while one state agency, the Department of Public Welfare removes children from their parents’ care, and places them in foster homes in different school districts to protect them, another agency bars children from entering school, denying them equal access to a public education (Steinberg, et al., 2002).”Part II: Aging Out of the Dependent SystemAging Out Of The Foster Care System: What Is It? How Does It Affect Youth?Aging out of the foster care system refers to youth that are transitioning from dependent care toadulthood. At eighteen, youth in care are eligible to request a board extension allowing them tostay in care until they are twenty-one so that they can continue to prepare for their future. Theyouth must be enrolled in an educational, vocational (cosmetology, auto), and/or treatmentprogram in order to maintain the board extension. However, once these youth turn twenty-one,they are no longer eligible for a board extension, are discharged from the dependent system, andexpected to live independently.Independent Living Program (IL or ILP)Independent Living Program is a process of preparation by DHS for youth in care. “The federallaw requires that each youth age sixteen and older have an IL plan as part of their Family ServicePlan (FSP). In Pennsylvania, it is required that each county must submit an IL form, similar tothe FSP, to use in developing IL plans for individual youth (Pokempner, J., et al., 2003, p.9).”Each youth should receive a copy of their IL plan. The IL plan should address the youth’s goalsregarding education, vocation and career, physical and mental health, housing, relationships witha positive adult role model and family, community resources, and life skills. Additionally, theyare referred to a program for independent living preparations, in Philadelphia this program iscalled Achieving Independence Center (AIC).What Do Social Workers Need To Know?It is important that social workers understand the issues and problems that dependent youth areconfronted with, especially during adolescence. This developmental stage is when the adolescentbegins to define who they are, where they belong, and what they need to do to prepare for adultresponsibilities. It is well documented that youth in care have additional challenges. Theirresilience compared to non-dependent youth is not as well developed. Often, these youths havedevelopmental delays in areas of age appropriate needs, milestones, and academic settings. Theystruggle with appropriate social behavior and challenges recognized as normative developmentalbehavior. The literature recognizes that these youth were forcibly separated from their families,often due to abuse and neglect, and they may not have developed attachments to positive adultfigures in their lives. It is also likely they are struggling with complex trust issues.Problems and Trends with Foster Care and for Youth Transitioning to AdulthoodResearch on outcomes for dependent youth have shown that “youth in foster care are often worseoff than the general population of teens who are living in poverty (Benson, 2003).” Most familiesprovide adolescents the security of a home to fall back on while they transition into adulthood.On the other hand, often without such security, youth exiting the foster care system facechallenges that compromise their ability to successfully transition into adulthood. 7
  • 8. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingThese youth are particularly vulnerable. Often, they are emotionally unprepared for adultresponsibilities and they lack life skills required for successful independent living. A dischargeof youth at eighteen and/or twenty-one has led to significant negative outcomes, such as poverty,unemployment, incarceration, and homeless. “Nearly 40% of foster care youth fail to graduatehigh school, an almost equal number end up on welfare, within two years, a third have childrenout of wedlock, and about 18% end up in prison (Heyman, 2003).”The Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, began to address these problems bydesignating money for each state to use to help discharged youth transition more easily intoadulthood. However, not all youth are made aware of independent living programs, and not allstates are using the full percentage of money allocated for youth towards independent livingprograms.The two tables below reflect identify problems and trends that affect youth in the dependentsystem, from the literature and interviews used for this research. The first table covers challengesaging out youth face. The second table covers criticism’s youth have reported as problems theyexperienced while in the foster care system.Identified Problems and Trends for Aging Out Youth:• Developmental delay and problems (behavioral and • Truancy, academic problems, undereducation, and emotional) adjusting to school, social situations, school failure. Also, many foster youth have poor physical, health, and mental health changed placements and school districts. This (Wertheimer, 2002). increases their risk at failing, missing school until they are re-enrolled (Steinberg, et al., 2002)1.• Teens at 18, even with training, are unprepared for • Unemployment and unskilled; foster care aged out independent living. youth earn less then non-foster care youth (George, 2002)• No positive adult role model or support and • Limited life skills and not learning skills to enable difficulty with attachment them to live outside the dependent system. Youth are dependent on other people to make decisions, since the county has been responsible for decisions made regarding that youth.2• Mental health issues and health care coverage • Early parenthood• Welfare, poverty • Lack of affordable housing, housing instability, and homelessness 1 Late last year the PA Board of Education rejected a proposed policy change to help foster children enroll in schools quicker. Re-enrollment into a new school can be slowed down by missing paper work, or missed pre- enrollment meetings with foster parents. Until re-enrollment occurs, foster children are not allowed to return to school; therefore jeopardizing their academic success. The Education Law Center, a non-profit in PA outlined some recommendations that would help foster children get back to school quicker when a placement has changed. The Board of Education in PA chose to ignore those recommendations. Some view the inconsistencies, of Pennsylvania’s 501 public school districts as discrimination against children in foster care, and that these youth are being punished because of out-dated bureaucratic protocols. 2 Including youth in all decision making processes enables them to learn and develop this skill that will be useful for youth once they leave the dependent system. 8
  • 9. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingSystemic Problems, Trends and Assumptions with the Dependent System:• Multiple Workers • Youth are not safe Some youth have had multiple workers “Young people who age out of the child welfare and their needs do not get addressed system are not safe. They experience great risks in emotional, economic, and physical safety.• Multiple Placements • Adolescents not always included Some youth have lived in multiple placements that Adolescents are not always invited to meetings that were unsuccessful and they feel the system failed focus on their permanency planning them.• Problems with education • Family not always included Poor education support and opportunity pre and post Family involved with the youth are not always high school. Youth pre-high school graduation, are invited to meetings that focus on permanency forced to change schools, if their placement is planning changed to a new county or neighborhood. This often results in a gap(s) in their education process (Steinberg, 2002).• Older youth get under considered • If a youth refuses adoption, try again Adoption and guardianship for an adolescent is not If a youth refuses adoption, he/she is may never be treated with the same feasibility as pre-adolescent asked again. There is an assumption that youth youth would not change their mind.• Poor future planning • Reuniting family, adoption, or guardianship Youth have reported that the path to self sufficiency “Once requirements of ASFA are met and is often rapid, sometimes unplanned for and independent living begins, few efforts are made to unexpected, and results in their feeling “dumped” reunite youth with family or re-visit the possibility by the system that cared for them (Nixon, 1999).” of adoption or legal guardianship (Ansell, 2002).”• Limited emotional support • The assumption Limited emotional support from “An assumption that teens would prefer to pursue a positive adult role model in placement, and no or independent living and that older teens are too old limited family connections or support. for a permanent placement (Ansell, 2002).”“A major flaw in the thinking that leads to these assumptions is the notion that permanency is aplacement, a place to live, an address (Ansell, 2002).”Instead of recognizing that permanency represents: • a connection, • having a place to always go back to, • knowing that there are people there who will always welcome you, • a place with people who you know and care about to share holidays with, • a state of mind, beyond an address and a temporary place to call home, that after the youth turns 18, he/she may not be able to stay connected with. 9
  • 10. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingReported Success for Youth In CareIt is also important to recognize what is working for youth in care. The table below outlines someareas found in the literature that have helped youth who have aged out be more successful.Successes for youth in care• Employment while in care • Emotional and services support increases “Youth who had jobs while in care were the most outcome success after care successful at maintaining jobs after they left care “Youth who received support in order to attend (Eilertson, 2002)” post-secondary educational and vocational programs were more likely to obtain living-wage employment (Nixon, 1999)”• SIL participation increases outcome success • Family and a connection with a positive adult after care increases youth success after care “Youth who participate in SIL programs are more Family or family-like ties are critical and have successful in learning independent living skills contributed to youth’s success in transition to (Nixon, 1999)” adulthood.The Foster Care System In Philadelphia, PennsylvaniaPennsylvania accepts children into the foster care system who have issues other then abuse andneglect, such as truancy or youth who have forced delinquency charges that stem fromdependency issues. The Pennsylvania foster care system was “set up as a child protective systemand was geared towards children who were abused and neglected (Benson, 2003).” However, itwas not geared towards addressing the shifting needs of older children who have compoundedissues as seen with delinquents.According to a March 3, 2003 planning committee meeting at Family Court (1801 Vine Street)in Philadelphia PA, the number of youth in foster care over the last ten years have remains thesame, yet there has been an increase in older youth in the dependent system. Over the last tenyears, adolescents twelve and older have increased by 58% from 2,373 (1992) to 3,745 (2002),while youth under twelve have decreased by 20% (Benson, 2003).A Legal Problems Verse A Social ProblemIt is also important to recognize that these youth, although they may get in to trouble with thelaw before or after they age out, they first came into a public system by way of a social problem.This is significant because so many of the youth that have left the foster care system end upincarcerated. Yet, many of them have come from backgrounds that are deeply seeded in socialproblems, like abuse, neglect, poverty, and/or they have collected emotional and social problemswhile in the dependent system.Once the youth turns eighteen, he/she is confronted with aging out of care, if the youth gets introuble with the law he/she will be charged in the adult system, not in the child welfare system.Yet, these youth have complex problems that are rooted to some degree in child welfare system.Even though these youth are considered a legal adult, they often are struggling with the transitionof independent living and the responsibilities of adulthood, and are developmentally not at fullmaturity for their age. Mean while, these youth are confronted with the challenges that most non-foster children face until they are at least in their early twenties. The law does not differentiatethis gap and often the outcome for these youth leaves little compassion and assistance in helpingthem to make better choices. 10
  • 11. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingClearly, youth of all ages and backgrounds need to take some personal responsibility for theiractions. However, it must not be negated that these youth often were not taught the same valuesystems of right verse wrong that so many non-foster children are exposed too. Additionally,many of these youth have faced physical and mental traumas, and have not had a positive rolemodel to steer them towards good choice making. Yet, the current welfare system and relatedgovernment, upholds foster youth to a higher standard, then youth who have never had thecomplex problems found among foster children. 11
  • 12. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training Independent living is not about protecting and controlling it is about letting go. – Mark Kroner, The Lighthouse Project, CAPart III: Adolescent Initiative Program / Achieving Independence CenterThis year the Adolescent Initiative Program was replaced by the Achieving Independence Center(AIC). AIC is a DHS sponsored collaborative intended to address the needs of youth sixteen totwenty-four. All youth in care are referred to AIC after they turn sixteen, by their DHS socialworker as part of their independent living plan. As youths needs change, the youth is also eligibleto continue to use the services at the AIC until they are twenty-four.Some supporters of the independent living practice believe that it is critical to start IL planning atfourteen, and if you wait till the youth is a junior or senior in high school, it may be too late toprepare them (Eilertson, 2002).AIC Location And InformationAchieving Independence CenterMellon Independence center701 Market Street, Concourse levelPhiladelphia, PA 19107215-574-9194AIC programs and services • Life skills • Educational Support • Employment and training • Housing • Hands-on job training • Technology • Mentoring • Teen parentingWho Qualifies? • Foster care youth between sixteen and twenty-four years • Youth between sixteen and twenty-four who have been discharged from the foster care system are eligible for services at AIC, as long as they were in the foster care system when they were sixteen.What Is The Role Of A Child Advocate? • Ensure that each client sixteen and older participates in AIC. Sometimes, DHS workers may not follow through with connecting clients to this resource. • Advocate for all youth in dependent care to have access to AIC, not just those who were in the system at sixteen. This is particularly important for youth who have aged out of the system before AIC existed, or were previously discharged from the foster care system before they reached sixteen, but could benefit from the AIC services. 12
  • 13. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training “What does life look like for these “system kids”? How do they turn themselves into productive, self-sufficient adults without the financial, emotional and social support that most young people get from families, friends, and communities?” – Christine EiliertsonPart IV: Board ExtensionsWhat Is It And How Does It Work?In Pennsylvania, “the Juvenile Act requires that an extension of care be permitted when a youthis in a course of instruction or treatment. In fact, under the Juvenile law a youth cannot bedischarged from care without a hearing. In PA, a hearing before discharge is required, there areno other regulations or standards for discharging youth, however, local courts are developingdischarge protocols (Pokempner, J., et al., 2003, p.12).”Adjudicated youth are eligible for a board extension at eighteen allowing them to continue in thefoster care system until they are twenty-one. In order to receive a board extension the youthneeds to request a board extension from DHS (described below). They also need to meet certaincriteria and have an education or vocational goal to pursue during this extended period.Process for CASW To Follow• CASW receives a monthly print out of clients sixteen and older• The CASW needs to write each client a letter addressing the client responsibility with future planning (AIC eligibility) and board extension eligibility. See the Letter from CAUSW to youth (Appendix).• Once the client turns seventeen, the CASW needs to send them a second letter addressing the same issues.The CASW Role with ClientsIn addition to the letters, the CASW needs to discuss with clients their eligibility for independentliving / future planning services.The CASW needs to make sure that each client is: • compliant with their Individual Service Plan (ISP) goals, • attending and doing well in school, or at least showing improvement • has shown appropriate behavior in home and at school, • doing what he/she needs to do to meet all goals • If the youth is not compliant, the CASW needs to make their client aware that they will could lose eligibility for a board extension and all other services through DHS, except AIC (independent living), once they turn eighteen11 AIC is suppose to be offered to all youth in care once they turn sixteen and extended to them until they turn twenty-four. (See Part III: Adolescent Initiative Program / Achieving Independence Center) 13
  • 14. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingBoard Extensions: General Board Extension And A Specific Board ExtensionThere are two types of board extensions, a general and a specific board extension.General Board Extension (for youth with special needs) • Goal: Mental Health (MH) Treatment • The youth must be enrolled in a treatment program in order to receive a board extension. • When the youth turns twenty-one, DHS and the Office of MH/MR collaborate in planning a discharge plan that will address the youth’s special needsSpecific Board Extension • These youth have successfully completed AIP/AIC (required). • These youth are enrolled in an SIL program, in foster care, or in kinship. • Youth still in high school at eighteen can be eligible as long as they participate in finishing high school, and/or acquiring a post high school educational, college or vocational (auto, cosmetology) opportunity. • Sometimes youth work part time depending on SIL program requirements. • In the event, the youth did not complete AIP/AIC they must be enrolled in AIC concurrent with SIL in order to gain life skills and other additional training, needed.Board Extension May Be Requested If The Youth Is • Committed to the DHS in placement • Between 18 and 21 years old • Demonstrates their level of motivation and commitment. The youth is attending, getting good grades or showing improvement in school, compliant with their ISP goals, and/or with treatment program (if applies). • Enrolled in AIC, educational, vocational, or other training that is intended to enhance the youth’s ability to live independently and to become self sufficient • For youth with substance problems, they must be enrolled in a substance abuse program • For youth with mental health problems, it could be argued that the youth needs additional services to address his/her problems and that he/she is not ready for independence. In this case, a board extension would allow additional time for the youth to receive the treatment he/she needs, until age twenty-one.Additionally, the Youth Must Meet the Following Expectations • The youth must meet with the DHS social worker to determine future goals, to outline how goals will be achieved, and identify how long it will take to achieve his/her goals. • The DHS social worker and the youth should explore all alternatives and options for financing the achievement of goals. • Identifying and utilizing available services appropriateApplying For A Board Extension in Philadelphia, PAThe youth needs to write their DHS social worker requesting a board extension before wellbefore his/her eighteenth birthday.Once A Board Extension Is GrantedOnce granted a board extension, the youth must request a renewal of the board extension everysix months until his/her twenty-first birthday. 14
  • 15. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingDischarge PlansWhether the youth is discharged at eighteen or twenty-one, discharge plans should cover thefollowing areas: • Educational or vocational goals • Daily living skills • Employment • Connection to community services • Housing • Connection to a positive adult role model and/or family member • Mental health / medical coverage*(borrowed from Pokempner, J., et al., 2003, p.13)Discharge plans should be more comprehensive a simply stating where the youth will beresiding. Since the Juvenile Act in Pennsylvania does not have any standard or protocol fordischarging youth, it is particularly important that CA uphold the criteria outlined (Pokempner,J., et al., 2003, p.12-13) above. Especially, since so many aged-out youth face problems such ashomelessness, incarceration, and unemployment. 15
  • 16. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingBoard Extension Letters (sample copies for each are in the Appendix section)Letter From DHS to YouthThe Department of Human Services writes the client when he/she is seventeen. The letter alsoincludes a Board Extension Request Form that the client must fill out and sign. Parents orguardians, child advocate, agency social worker, and anyone else appropriate should also receivea copy of this letter sent to youth. See sample copy in the Appendix section.Letter From CAUSW to YouthThe CAUSW needs to send each eligible youth a letter after the youth turns sixteen. The intent isto inform the youth of their eligibility for a board extension and the process that he/she needs tofollow in order to receive extended services. Enclosed with this letter is a sample letter thatshows the youth what to write in their letter to DHS requesting a board extension. See samplecopy in the Appendix section.Letter From Youth to DHSThe youth needs to write a letter to his/her DHS social worker requesting his/her desire toreceive a board extension. If the youth chooses to request a board extension, they need to meet anumber of expectations, (see previous, section titled Expectations the youth must meet in order torequest a board extension). The youth must also return a signed Board Extension Request Formto DHS that accompanied the initial letter sent by their DHS worker. See sample copy in theAppendix section.The Letter From The Youth To DHS Must Include • A statement that the youth is requesting continued services and support until he/she is twenty-one in order to complete his/her education and training goals. • The specific educational or vocational training or treatment program that the youth is or will be attending. • The dates of the program from start to finish must be identified. • A letter of verification from an admission counselor or other administrative authority of the educational or vocational program chosen stating the youth has been accepted and is enrolled.Monthly Print-Outs Identifying Clients 16 + YearsEach month CAUSW supervisors will give each CAUSW a list of clients who are sixteen andolder. These clients are eligible for AIC if sixteen and board extensions if seventeen or older.Early Interventions Recommendation: Social Service Checklist Summarizing Clients NeedsA standard checklist that addresses all aspects of youth’s needs, including youth with specializedneeds could improve youth outcome potential. Such a checklist could identify the youth’sindividual needs; in order to, better prepare the youth for his/her future. 16
  • 17. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training “The child welfare systems and foster care programs need to become more aware of why these kids are not prepared (Morris, 2002)”–Ann Stanton, Lark Street Center, San Francisco, CAPart V: Supervised Independent Living Programs (SIL)Supervised Independent Living Programs provide youth, sixteen to twenty-one, with their ownapartments, and services such assisted life skills training, socialization activities, counseling,medical, living allowances (food, personal needs, clothes), and if needed, child care.While in SIL, the youth’s priority is to focus on their educational or vocational goals. As long asthey are enrolled and participating in a training program, the youth is provided services. The goalof the SIL programs is for the youth to be ready to transition into adulthood when they aredischarged from DHS at twenty-one.Who Is Eligible?Youth between sixteen and a half to twenty-one are eligible to live in a supervised independentliving arrangement and are enrolled in educational or vocational training.Often dependent youth are academically behind their peers who are not in the dependent system.Many of these youth have low reading and math skills. Therefore, because these youth arebehind academically they may not qualify for SIL because they are unable to do the academicwork.SIL Programs in Philadelphia, PATabor Services, Inc. Children’s Services, Incorporated (CSI)57 E. Armat Street 1315 Walnut Street, 3rd floorPhiladelphia, PA 19144 Philadelphia, PA 19107-4703215-348-4071 www.childrensservicesinc.orgDelta WAWAPresbyterian Children’s Village (PVC) MORDYRegulations to Maintain SIL Status: • Participating in an educational or vocational program • Seek and obtain part-time employment • Meet with DHS SW and provider SW on a regular assigned basis • Attend Adolescent Initiative Program (AIP) and complete programReferral Process to SIL:DHS sends a social summary of the child’s progress to the provider agency. This summaryincludes placement history, any runaway/AWOL reports, school attendance, and supportservices. Once the agency receives the child’s social summary a meeting is scheduled with theclient, provider agency, and DHS.The provider agency then will decide as to whether they agree or disagree to supervise the clientduring extended care. DHS notifies the client as to the final agency decision. If the agency does 17
  • 18. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Trainingnot agree to supervise the child, the DHS worker may advocate on behalf of the child, or theworker may choose to search for another provider agency to supervise the child.Child advocates can play an intermediary role and also advocate for their clients to participate inan SIL program. 18
  • 19. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Training “Youth who grow up in state care face a series of challenges that may be exacerbated by the need to leave care earlier (Sheehy, 1999).”Part VI: John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence ProgramAlso known as the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 and the Independent Living program.Signed by President Clinton on November 18, 1999, this act increases funds allocated to eachstate in order to assist discharged youth in making a smoother transition into independent living(adulthood).From Child Welfare League Of America’s Web Site, The Independent Living ProgramIncludes (Quoted from Funds To States To Assist Youth To Make The Transition From Foster Care ToIndependent Living • Federal Funds for Independent Living Program is doubled from $70 million to $140 million a year. • Allocated funds are to be used to help youth transition from foster care to independent living. The youth are offered an opportunity to participate in an educational or vocational program to obtain necessary employment skills, and also to teach youth independent living skills such as shopping, paying bills, laundry, and prevention methods for substance abuse, pregnancy, and health problems. The funds are supposed to also help connect the youth with an adult who could provide a safe, positive, and stable relationship. • States must contribute a 20% state match for Independent Living Program funds. • States must use federal training funds (authorized by Title IV-E of the Social Security Act) to help foster parents, adoptive parents, group home workers, and case managers to address issues confronting adolescents preparing for independent living.Recognizes The Need For Special Help For Youth Ages 18 - 21 Who Have Left Foster Care • States must use some portion of their funds for assistance and services for older youths who have left foster care but have not reached age 21. • States can use up to 30 percent of their Independent Living Program funds for room and board for youths ages 18 to 21 who have left foster care. • States may extend Medicaid to 18, 19 and 20-year-olds who have been emancipated from foster care. Access to the new independent living funds is not contingent upon states exercising that option.Offers States Greater Flexibility In Designing Their Independent Living Programs • States can serve children of various ages who need help preparing for self-sufficiency (not just those ages 16 and over as in previous law), children at various stages of achieving independence, and children in different parts of the state differently; they also can use a variety of providers to deliver independent living services • The asset limit for the federal foster care program is changed to allow youths to have $10,000 in savings (rather than the current $1,000 limit) and still be eligible for foster care payments. 19
  • 20. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingEstablishes accountability for states in implementing the independent living programs. • The Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) must, in consultation with federal, state, and local officials, advocates, youth service providers, and researchers, develop outcome measures to assess state performance. Outcomes include educational attainment, employment, and avoidance of dependency, homelessness, non-marital childbirth, high- risk behaviors, and incarceration. • HHS must also collect data necessary to track how many children are receiving services, services received and provided, and implement a plan for collecting needed information. HHS must also report to Congress and propose state accountability procedures and penalties for non-compliance. States must coordinate the independent living funds with other funding sources for similar services. • States are subject to penalty if they misuse funds or fail to submit required data on state performance. • $2.1 million is set aside for a national evaluation and for technical assistance to states in assisting youth transitioning from foster care.Who Qualifies?Youth ages 18-21 and who have been discharged from the dependent foster care systemNational Programs Identified as Model Programs Include IL / SIL Programs Location Casey Family Program & Casey Family Services Light House Youth Services Cincinnati, OH Bridges Los Angeles, CA CA Youth Connection CA Tubman House (Waking the Village) Sacramento, CA Independent Living Youth Advisory Board Maryland Foster Care Youth Partnership New York Department of Health & Human Services, Cedar Rapids, IA Four Oaks of Iowa Supervised Apartments and Independent CT Living (SAIL) Independent Living For Tomorrow (LIFT), Alexandria, VA Residential Youth Services Denver Department of Human Services Denver, CO Alive-E Youth In Transition Volunteer Mobile Inc., Connections Mentor Program AL The Kings Ranch/Hannah Homes Living Program ALWhat is Title IV-E Independent Living Program?Title IV-E was enacted in 1986. Title IV-E “provided states with the resources to create andimplement independent living services (Kellam, 1999).” With the addition of the 1999 act JohnH. Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, a portion of the funds available can be used forolder youth between eighteen and twenty-one that have already aged out of the foster caresystem. The 1999 act allows states to use up to 30% of the allocated funds for room and board 20
  • 21. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol Trainingfor these youth. However, according to a DHS worker interviewed, PA is not utilizing the entire30% for this target group. 21
  • 22. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingPart VII: Appendix – Inserts (Not included in this document)Sample Board Extension Letters a) Sample letter from client to DHS b) Sample letter from CAUSW to client c) Sample letter from DHS to clientDHS: Board Extension PolicyDHS: PermanenceDHS: SPLC (Supervised Permanent Legal Custody) 22
  • 23. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingResources for Youth Related Issues: Foster Care, Aging Out, and Independent LivingPA ResourcesThe National Resource Center for Youth Services Pennsylvanias Child Family Service Review (2002)(NRCYS) at the University of Oklahoma SR.pdfPA State related info: State Foster Parent Association Department of Public Welfare, Office of Children, Youth and Families P.O. Box 2675, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675 William Wilson (717) 214-3810 / fax (717) 214-3784 ResourcesThe Family and Youth Services Bureau (FYSB) The Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Family Programs Orphan Foundation of America (OFA) http://www.orphan.orgNational Resource Center for Youth Development, Waking the VillageThe University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Sacramento, CAEducation, a contracted organization of the US of Health and Human Service, Children’sBureau4502 East 41st Street, Bldg 4WTulsa, OK 74135-2512(918) 660-3700 / fax (918) 660-3737www.nrcys.ou.eduNational Estimates of Runaway / Throwaway Youth Children’s Village Appreciation for Youth (WAY) New YorkYouth 15-17 make up 2/3rds of the youth in this Offers a scholarship program for youth and has a highcategory (NRCYD, 2002) success rate for youth outcomes that go through their program. Might be a good model to look into.Child Trendshttp://www.childtrends.orgFYSB Transitional Living Programs in PennsylvaniaNorthern Cambria Community Three Rivers YouthDevelopment Corporation 2039 Termon Avenue4200 Crawford Avenue, Suite 200 Pittsburgh, PA 15212Northern Cambria, PA 15714 Peggy B. HarrisBeth Miller (412) 766-2215 ext. 18 / 948-4444 / ncamdevl@surfshop.netCentre County Youth Service CH Pennsylvania Under 21410 South Fraser Street 417 Callowhill StreetState College, PA 16801 Philadelphia, PA 19123Norma Keller Jerome Kilbane(814) 237-5731/ ysb@ccysb.comValley House Independent Living ProgramEdinboro, PA 23
  • 24. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingBibliographyAchieving Independence Center, (2003) Real skills for success, Brochure, Philadelphia, PAAmerican Bar Association, (1998) The Adoption and Safe Family Act of 1997Anderson, Cleopatra, (2003) Interview, Department of Human Service, former AIP ProgramDirector, Philadelphia, PAAnderson, Gary, (2002) Aging out of foster care: policy implications for the state of Michigan,MSU School of Social Work, Institute for public policy and social research, Research/Anderson.htmAnsell, D. I., (2002) The dilemma of either/or permanency vs. independent living, Nationalresource center for youth development, fall/winterAPA Online, (2003) Congress passes the foster care independence act,,ppo/issues/pfosterkids.htmlBenson, Clea, (2003) Older children crowd city foster-care system, Philadelphia Inquirer, Localand RegionalBrown, J. A., (2002) Worker helps teens in foster care become self sufficient, News & Record,Sunday City edition, People & Places, p28Center for Public Policy Priorities, (2001) All grown up, nowhere to go, Texas teens in fostercare transition, Texas foster care transitions project, The Annie E. Casey FoundationCharles, K., et al, (2000) Permanency Planning: Creating life long connections, What does itmean for adolescents?, The University of Oklahoma, National Resource Center for YouthDevelopment, www.nrcys.ou.eduChild welfare league of America, (1999) Foster care independence act of 1999, summary of keyprovisions of legislation,’s Defense Fund, (2003) Adoptions and Safe Families Act (ASFA),’s Services, Incorporated, SIL handbook, Philadelphia, PACollins, M. E., (2001) Transition to adulthood for vulnerable youths: a review of research andimplications for policy, University of Chicago Press social service review, June 2001, v75, i2,p271Cox, Rachel (1998) Abstract, Foster Care Reform, CQ Researcher, CQ Press, Vol. 8, No. 1 24
  • 25. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingCraig, C., Herbert, D., (1997) A state examination of the children: an examination ofgovernment-run foster care,, Gleniese, (2003) Interview, Children Services, Inc., MSW and Program Administrator,Philadelphia, PADepartment of Children and Families, State of Connecticut, (2003) Policy manual, adolescentservices,, c., (2002) When foster care ends: for teens who grew up in foster care, starting life ontheir own is jarring, sometimes frightening change. What are states doing to support theirtransition to adulthood?, National conference of state legislatures, State legislatures,v28,i8,p24(3)Graf, ben, (2002) Information packet: Foster care independence acy – 1999, National resourcefor foster care and permanency planning at the Hunter College school of social work, NY,George, R. M., et al., (2003) Employment outcomes for youth aging out of foster care, finalreport, University of Chicago, Chapin Hall Center for Children,, J. D., (2003) Sink or swim: at 18 most foster kids are pushed out of the system. Twoyears later half have babies or are in prison. New programs offer hope, but many, says one 20-year old, it’s like being thrown out into the wild, People Weekly, Time, Inc. v59, i2, p66+Juvenile court judges’ commission commonwealth of PA (1999)The Juvenile Act, 42 Pa.C.S.sec.6301 et seq. with appendix,Kellam, Susan, (1999) Clinton signs foster care independence act, Connect for kids, children andfoster care,…Kellam, Susan, (2000) Foster youth lobby congree, Connect for kids, children and foster care,…Kellam, Susan, (2000) Maryland takes a first step towards foster care independence, Connect forkids, children and foster care,…Kroner, Mark, (1999) CWLA Testimony of Mark Kroner before the house ways and meanssubcommittee on human resources for the hearing on foster care independent living, Childwelfare league of America, May 13, 1999Morris, J., (2002) Freedom at 18 can be free fall for unprepared, Knight Ridder/Tribune NewsService, pK2070 25
  • 26. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingNational center for research family support, (2002) Youth aging out of care, Casey FamilyPrograms, Legislation, (2002) New law expands support to foster care youth transitioning toindependence, March 31, 2000, Resource Center for Youth Development, (2003) Pennsylvania: a state web-based factsheet, The University of Oklahoma College of Continuing Education, a contracted organizationof the US Department of Health and Human Service, Children’s Bureau,>f/state_pa.htmNixon, Robin, (1999) CWLA Testimony before the ways and means subcommittee on humanresources for the hearing on challenges confronting older children leaving foster care, Childwelfare league of America, March 9, 1999Philadelphia Department of Human Services Children and Youth Division Policy Manual,(2000), History of CYD, Provisions of Service (1000 – 1010), Board Extensions (5270 –5271.3), Adolescent Initiative (5710), Philadelphia, PAPhiladelphia Department of Human Services, (2002) Social worker court presentation guidelinesfor children in alternative planned permanent living arrangements (APPLA), Philadelphia, PAPittman, Karen, (2003) Aging out or aging in,, Jenny, (2003) Interview, Juvenile Law Center, Philadelphia, PAPokempner, J., and Rosado, L. M., (2003) Dependent youth aging out of foster care inPennsylvania: a judicial guide, 3rd edition, Juvenile Law CenterPowell, A., (2002) Aging out can be a life crisis for foster youth, Harvard University Gazette,Boston, MA, law, (1999) Foster care independence act of 1999, Public law 106-169, 106th congressRobinson, R., (2002) Brownstone to house Applewood Program, Crains Cleveland Business, p8Sakis, N., (2002) Transition from independent living homes for older teens in foster care tocomplete independence, NPR, August 26, 2002, 10 AM news editionSheeny, Alfred, M., et al (1999) Promising Practices: Supporting transitions of youth served bythe foster care system, Edmund S. Muskie School of Public Service and National ResourceCenter for Youth Services, Annie E. Casey FoundationShors, B., (2003) Foster care’s end start of trouble; many face poverty, jail after supportwithdrawn. Spokane spokesman-review, main news, p.A1Social security legislation bulletin (1999) The foster care independence act of 1999, November24, 1999, 106-12, 26
  • 27. Elizabeth E. Brait Education & Protocol TrainingSpangler, Ron, (2003) Interview, Achieving Independence Center, Program Director,Philadelphia, PAState Legislatures, (2002) More adoptions out of foster care, National Conference of StateLegislatures, v28, i9, p7(1)Stein, T., (2000) The Adoption and Safe families act: creating a false dichotomy betweenparents’ and childrens’ right, Families in society: the journal of contemporary human services,families international, inc., p586Steinberg, A., Peckham, S., Silver, J., (2002) PA needs to ease enrollment for foster care, equalaccess to education, Philadelphia Inquire, September 3, 2002, Center for Child Advocates, (1998) What’s Up, the adoption and safe family act:towards safety and permanency for children, Fall 1998, S. Department of health and Human Services (2001) Reports to congress: Developing asystem of program accountability under the John H. Chafee Foster care Independence Program,, R., (2002) Youth who “ages out” of foster care: troubled lives, troubled prospects,Child trends research brief, publication #2002-59, Washington, D.C.Zahn, Clay, (2000) A new approach to permanency planning reviews, the movement towardstimely permanence, National Resource Center for Youth Development, The University ofOklahoma College of Continuing Education, a contracted organization of the US Department ofHealth and Human Service, Children’s Bureau, NRCYD Update Newsletter, spring/summer 27