AFDC-Foster Care eligibility and redeterminations

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) has issued a reminder and updated policy regarding Aid to Families with Dependent Children-Foster Care (AFDC-FC) eligibility and redeterminations.

AFDC-FC eligibility is established upon legal entry to re-entry into foster care, which is at the time a child is removed from the home or when a volunatary placement agreement is entered.  Annual deprivation redeterminations are not required.  Income and resources are not to be evaluated after the initial determination for the same foster care episode to determine continuing eligibility for AFDC-FC.

An eligibility redetermination is not required when a minor child or nonminor dependent in foster care receives income or property after the initial linkage determination is completed.  Counties must continue to assess for factors that impact AFDC-FC eligibility such as eligible placement, continued court jurisdiction, and, for nonminor dependents, participation in an employment or education activity.

Income and resources cannot be considered at any point in the foster care episode to determine eligibility a non-federal or federal AFDC-FC payment.  This is because a child in an eligible placement who is determined ineligible for a federal AFDC-FC payment is eligible to receive AFDC-FC without federal participation.

No redetermination can be conducted only because a youth turns age 18 while under an order for foster care placement.  Nonminor dependents who were eligible for AFDC-FC remain eligible until the youth exits foster care by court order.  A new AFDC deprivation determination is required only upon re-entry into foster care following a break in dependency.  That new determination is based only on the nonminor dependent’s income and resources, without regard for other family income and resources.

Beginning in 2022, there can be a new determination of AFDC-FC eligible for non-federally eligible youth who turn age 18 in order to access federal funds.

The Approved Relative Caregiver (ARC) program provides payments for relative placements that are not eligible for AFDC-FC.  Income or benefits on behalf of the child are not offset against the rate for ARC because the child’s income or benefits do not count in determining AFDC-FC benefits.  ARC benefits may only be reduced based on a partial month of placement.  Prior contrary guidance is superceeded.  (ACL 22-16, February 15, 2022.)