Act 91 FAQs: Extension of Adoption & Permanent Legal Custodianship Subsidies

This FAQ represents the interpretation of Juvenile Law Center. We will update this FAQ as we learn new information, so please check back frequently for updates. For more information, please contact Jenny Pokempner at Juvenile Law Center at (215) 625-0551, ext. 111., or [email protected].

Do the changes in the law impact adoption and permanent legal custodianship? 

Yes. Act 80 sought to correct disincentives to permanency that existed in the law. Because adoption and guardianship subsidies ended at age 18, some families would opt to have the child remain in foster care because benefits and services could extend until age 21. Act 80 now allows adoption and guardianship subsidies to extend until age 21 for youth who turned age 13 before the adoption or guardianship subsidy became effective, so long as the youth meets the definition of child.

Do children whose Permanent Legal Custodian (PLC) subsidies or adoption subsidies are extended past age 18 have to engage in any particular activities to be eligible?

Yes. Youth in extended subsidy arrangements must meet the same activity criteria as youth in extended foster care. They must engage in at least one of the following activities, or the exception:

  • Completing secondary education or an equivalent credential;
  • Enrolled in an institution that provides post-secondary or vocational education;
  • Participating in a program actively designed to promote or remove barriers to employment;
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month; OR
  • If the youth has a medical or behavioral health condition that prevents them from meeting any of the listed criteria, they remain eligible as long as documentation of the condition is maintained.  

Until more direction is provided, families should be encouraged to create a file and update their records at least every six months with proof of the condition and any related treatment. 

How will a youth's compliance with the activity requirements be monitored?

Case management, permanency planning, and court supervision is not provided by the child welfare agency to youth in adoption or guardianship arrangements. County agencies do have the obligation to verify or obtain assurances that all criteria for extension of permanent legal custodianship and adoption subsidies for youth 18 years of age to 21 have been met, and continue to be met, every six months at a minimum. 

How each county agency will meet this obligation may vary. It is likely that compliance monitoring will be detailed in the subsidy agreement. The attorney for the youth should review this document with the caregiver and youth so they understand any requirements to send documents or other proof of continued eligibility. This might include proof of enrollment, work schedules, as well as proof of a medical or behavioral health condition that prevents a child from meeting any of the activity requirements. It is also recommended that if the caregiver has an attorney he or she review the agreement as well.

If the process for assuring compliance is not clear, families should maintain a file where proof of a child's activities can be updated at least every six months to assure a continued eligibility.

Which children and families are eligible for extended subsidies?

In addition to the existing eligibility requirements for adoption and guardianship subsidies, to be eligible for a subsidy past age 18, the child must be age 13 or older when the adoption or guardianship subsidy agreement becomes effective and the youth must continue to meet the definition of child under the Juvenile Act by satisfying the activity requirement or its exception. 

What about children who are still under 21, but had their adoption or guardianship arrangement finalized when they were age 13 or older, but before the date of the enactment of Act 80? 

These youth may be eligible for an extended subsidy. If you think a youth may be eligible, contact the children and youth agency with which you entered into the original subsidy agreement and make a formal request to renegotiate the terms of your current subsidy agreement—if it is set to end when the youth turns 18—or to reinstate the subsidy and change the terms so that it will extend until age 21 if the subsidy has already been terminated. Use this form to make the request. 

It is important to note that OCYF has adopted a more narrow interpretation of the application of Act 80 to subsidy arrangements that became effective prior to the enactment of Act 80.