Determination of alternative resources for foster children receiving IHSS

Minor children who are placed with approved resource families, or in a foster care setting which was required to become a resource family by December 31, 2020, are considered to be living in their own home and may receive In Home Supportive Services (IHSS) if they are otherwise eligible. Children in an SSI/SSP non-medical out of home living arrangement are not eligible for IHSS.

A foster care payment determined using the Level of Care Protocol is not an IHSS alternative resource that effects IHSS eligibility.  KinGAP and Approved Relative Caregiver benefits are also not alternative resources for IHSS.  In addition, the Dual Agency Rate and Supplement to the Dual Agency Rate for foster care and adoptive children eligible for regional center services are not an alternative resource for IHSS.  Finally, adoption assistance benefits are not an alternative resource for IHSS.

During the Level of Care Protocol determination, counties should ask oof the foster child is applying for IHSS.  If the caregiver has not applied for IHSS services for the foster child or IHSS has not yet been approved, counties cannot consider potential IHSS in the Level of Care Protocol determination.  If the foster child has been granted IHSS, the county considers all IHSS the child receives when making a Level of Care Protocol determination.

Counties should continue to review what additional services and supports foster children receive to determine whether those services and supports are alternative resources for purposes of IHSS.  (ACIN I-55-21, June 14, 2021.)

COVID-19 end of additional foster care and adoption flexibilities

The California Department of Social Services has issued guidance regarding the end of additional flexibilities in the foster care and adoption program because of COVID-19.

The flexibility to do caseworker visits by videoconference instead of in person will end on July 31, 2021.  After July 31, 2021, family maintenance visits, monthly caseworker visits, visits with foster youth, post-placement supervision of adoptive placements and periodic caseworker visits must now be done in person.

The flexibility for exceptions to in person signing of adoption documents, and face-to-face visits independent adoptions and witnesses for adoption signing document will also end on July 31, 2021 and those requirements are reinstated after July 31, 2021.  (ACL 21-80, July 8, 2021.)

Federal Chafee cash payment for current and former foster youth age 18-26

Current and former foster youth who are or were nonminor dependents (NMD) eligible for Extended Foster Care (EFC) and are between the ages of 18 and 26 are eligible for a supplemental prepaid card, not contingent on opting into EFC. This federal flexibility extends to September 30, 2021. As such, eligibility verifications must be submitted by Friday, September 3, 2021. Those who are eligible but live out of state may receive the supplemental prepaid card if their NMD jurisdiction originated in California. Young adults whose foster care jurisdiction originates in another state but are currently residing in California are eligible if adequate post-18 jurisdiction verification is provided from the originating state. Verification examples include a documented phone call, written statement, or verifiable electronic data match.

CDSS will work with counties on the verification of eligibility and distribution of cash cards for all eligible current and former foster youth. Counties must verify all adults ages 18-20, while the CDSS must reach out to local youth who may not be in contact with their case managers, verify all adults 21 and older, and distribute prepaid cards for all eligible young adults.

These funds are not considered income for purposes of the CalWORKs, CalFresh, Cash Assistance Program for Immigrants (CAPI), CalWORKs Stage 1, and Emergency Child Care Bridge voucher programs, and will not count against the resource limits for 12 months from receipt of the payment.  (ACL 21-73, June 22, 2021).

Treatment of Golden State Grant payments received by foster care benefits recipients

The Golden State Grant Payment (GSGP) provides a $600 payment to individuals who received an SSI or SSP payment in March 2021. Payments are being issued via paper checks and were sent weekly from May 24, 2021 through the end of June 2021, based on zip code. For foster care recipients, the GSGP is not counted as income, or against the resource limit for 12 months, and shall not be used to offset the foster care maintenance payment.

When a GSGP for a foster youth is issued to a representative payee, funds should be given directly to the nonminor dependents (NMD) without restriction, unless the NMD has a conservator. For foster youth, funds will be given directly, depending on the age and development of the minor. They do not need to keep a receipt for their purchases, but if the funds go to the resource family, the family must keep an itemized receipt of what was spent.

When the county is the representative payee, funds should be deposited in a no cost, interest bearing account for the use and benefit of the child. The resource family will be informed of the funds. The county must keep an itemized record for the use of funds, and establish a method to disburse the funds upon release from foster care. The county may use these funds for the use and benefit of the child, as determined by the county. The funds may not be used for ordinary care and supervision or other foster-care related costs. (ACL 21-74, June 22, 2021.)

COVID-19 end of foster care flexibilities

The California Department of Social Services has issued guidance regarding the end of flexibilities in the foster care program because of COVID-19.

Rate flexibility for continued funding of an emergency caregiver pending approval as a Resource Family or Tribally Approved home beyond 365 days expired on July 1, 2021.  The approval to use COVID-19 as a static criteria to issue the Static Rate or Family Only Rate expired on July 1, 2021.  Alternative funding models and individualized rates for children to remain in the least restrictive, most family-like setting possible remain available.

Waiver of the 50 percent investigation fee and the 180 day time frame for court report submission for independent adoptions expired effective July 1, 2021.

Extension of the timeframe for required medical and dental examinations beyond 30 days for children placed out of home expired effective July 1, 2021.  Children placed out of home on or before June 30, 2021 must receive their examinations on or before July 31, 2021.

The option for counties to waive the age limit and length of stay for Transitional Housing Plus expired on July 1, 2021.  The ability for counties to temporarily approve a Supervised Independent Living Placement pending forms submission by the nonminor dependent also expired effective July 1, 2021.  The ability for counties to virtually inspect Supervised Independent Living Placements has not expired.

For Extended Foster Care, the following provisions continue to apply until September 30, 2021: 1) nonminor dependents should continue to get Extended Foster Care placement, services and supports even if they reach age 21, 2) Youth who aged out of case on or after January 27, 2021 may reenter Extended Foster Care even if they have reached age 21, and 3) participation requirements are waived for Extended Foster Care, including nonminor dependents, young people age 21 or older, and yound people who re-enter Extended Foster Care.  (ACL 21-77, June 28, 2021.)

COVID-19 extension of emergency caregiver funding and foster care rate flexibilities

Emergency caregivers with whom a child has been placed pending approval of the home as a Resource Family or Tribally Approved Home are eligible for emergency caregiver funding on behalf of the child for up to 120 days while the application is being processed.  On a case-by-case bases, emergency caregiver funding can be extended up to 365 days.  Effective April 16, 2021, through June 30, 2021, emergency caregiver funding can continue beyond 365 days because of delays in approval as a Resource Family or Tribally Approved home caused by COVID-19.  Between April 16, 2021 and June 30, 2021, counties cannot discontinue emergency care funding if approval exceeds 365 days because of COVID-19.

The California Department of Social Services has authorized a higher payment rate because of COVID-19 between April 17, 2021 and June 30, 2021.  The higher rate is available which the child or another member of the household requires isolation or quarantine because of COVID-19, and as a result there are increased supervision needs, or the child requires a new placement because of COVID-19.  The higher rate is available to emergency caregivers.

COVID-19 has impacted capacity for Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program placements.  If COVID-19 has impacted the ability to received Short-Term Residential Therapeutic Program level of care, counties can negotiate a higher rate with Family Foster Agencies who are willing to accept a child assessed as needing short-term residential therapeutic program level of care and is able to provide individualized exceptional care, supervision, and services.  (ACL 21-60, May 21, 2021.)