The bill creates the foster youth in transition program (transition program) in the state department of human services (state department) to be implemented in county departments of human or social services (county departments) throughout the state. The purpose of the transition program is to allow foster youth who meet eligibility criteria to voluntarily continue to receive certain child welfare services (services) up until the last day of the month of the youth's twenty-first birthday, or such greater age of foster care eligibility as required by federal law. Services provided through the transition program must be client-directed and developmentally appropriate as set forth in and agreed to through a voluntary services agreement (agreement) developed and entered into between the youth and county department.
The bill sets forth the eligibility criteria a youth must meet in order to voluntarily participate in the transition program. A youth who is no longer under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court and thinks he or she is eligible for the transition program may make a written request to the juvenile court (court) or county department where the youth resides. The county department shall make a determination of eligibility. If the youth is eligible, the county department shall explain the requirements and benefits of the transition program to the youth and, with the youth, develop an agreement that must be provided to the juvenile court together with a petition to renew jurisdiction with the juvenile court.
The bill describes the services and supports that will be made available to a youth through the transition program, including assistance with enrolling in medicaid; assistance with securing appropriate housing; and providing case management services, such as developing a roadmap to success, obtaining employment, obtaining critical documents and records, and accessing information about relatives and siblings, if available and appropriate.
The bill sets forth the form and content required for a petition to bring the youth under the juvenile court's jurisdiction. Upon receipt of informed, written consent of the youth, a person may be named as a special respondent in a case brought pursuant to the transition program.
A youth participating in the transition program must be appointed counsel from a list of attorneys approved by the office of the child's representative. If the youth is 18 years of age or older and, due to diminished capacity, needs a guardian ad litem, one may also be appointed.
Procedures for emancipation discharge and transition hearings (hearing) are described in the bill, including a requirement to have a personalized emancipation transition plan finalized for the youth no more than 90 days prior to a hearing. The county department shall file a report with the court at least 7 days prior to a transition hearing that includes relevant details concerning a youth's status and plans to either emancipate or enter the youth in transition program. With the youth's consent and in certain circumstances, the court may continue a transition hearing for up to 119 days.
The court shall hold periodic reviews of the youth's case at least every 6 months to ensure that the transition program is providing the youth with the necessary services to help the youth move toward permanency and a successful transition to adulthood. The bill sets forth procedures for the periodic reviews. The bill grants continuing jurisdiction in a youth's case to the juvenile court under certain situations.
The bill creates the foster youth successful transition to adulthood grant program (grant program) and associated advisory board (advisory board). The purpose of the grant program is to support eligible youth to successful transition into adulthood. Youth are eligible for services from recipients of grants from the grant program if they are between the ages of 18 and 23, were in foster care or adjudicated dependent and neglected, and are participating voluntarily. The advisory board shall meet at least 2 times per year, and the bill outlines membership.
The state department is directed to promulgate rules for the implementation of the transition program.
The bill makes conforming amendments.
(Note: This summary applies to the reengrossed version of this bill as introduced in the second house.)