Act 91 FAQs: Info for Youth After Re-Entering Care

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].

What does a youth need to do once he or she re-enters care?

A youth will need to be actively engaged in at least one of the activities listed in the new definition of "child" to re-enter and remain in care. This includes:

  • 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; or
  • Employed for at least 80 hours per month; or 
  • If the youth cannot engage in one of the activities due to a documented medical or behavioral health condition that prevents them from meeting any of the activity requirements

Proof of meeting the requirements, including the exception, must be updated in the permanency plan.  The youth's attorney should help ensure that appropriate documentation is in the youth's file and included in the permanency plan to assure continued eligibility. At each permanency hearing, the court must make findings that the youth continues to meet the definition of “child” as amended by Act 91.  

What kinds of services can a youth get when the court resumes jurisdiction?

When the court resumes jurisdiction, the youth has access to all the services that the child welfare agency can provide and any services that the court orders. Permanency reviews, permanency planning, independent living, and transition planning requirements will continue to apply to the case. Youth will continue to receive placement, case management, health insurance, court reviews, and appointment of an attorney. The exact services and treatment the youth will get will depend on the youth’s individual situation and needs. For example, placement may be with kin, in a Supervised Independent Living Apartment, or a dorm at college. A youth for whom the court resumes jurisdiction may also receive in-home services rather than placement if that is appropriate. Like all dependency cases, the disposition will depend on the individual youth. Youth who resume dependency jurisdiction are legal adults and they play a key role and have great responsibility in guiding both the court and children and youth agencies in what they feel is in their own best interests.

Does the youth’s attorney represent the youth’s wishes and/or what the lawyer thinks is in their best interests in a resumption of jurisdiction case?

Under Juvenile Court Rule 1151, the attorney for the youth should be appointed as counsel. This means that the attorney must represents the youth’s expressed wishes.