Eligibility

General Eligibility

The department shall offer to continue its responsibility to any young adult—defined as a person between age 18 and 22, Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, § 21—who is under the custody, care, or responsibility of the department including, but not limited to, those who meet the eligibility criteria set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 675(8)(B)(iv). Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119, § 23(f).

Pursuant to Department policy, a young adult must be: (a) Completing secondary education or a program leading to a GED; (b) Enrolled in a post-secondary or vocational education program or trade school, full or part time; (c) Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; (d) Employed at least 80 hours per month; (e) Incapable of (a)-(d) due to a medical condition; (f) Participating in a program or plan which promotes specific educational or rehabilitative skills; or (g) Participating in a program which promotes and supports the young adult in fully developing and fulfilling the young adult’s potential to be a participating citizen of the commonwealth under conditions agreed upon by both the department and the young adult. Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Permanency Planning Policy 55 (July 1, 2013).

Extension Process

Voluntary Care Agreement Requirement

A young adult must consent in writing unless: (i) before reaching the age of 18, the person had an intellectual disability and was declared mentally incompetent while under the responsibility of the department; or (ii) the person is under the responsibility of the department because he is incapacitated. Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119, § 23(f).

The youth must sign a voluntary placement agreement during the month prior to turning 18. Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Permanency Planning Policy 58.

Case Management Requirements

Soon after a youth turns 17, the youth’s social worker works with the youth to plan for continuation of services beyond age 18, including addressing how the youth meets the eligibility criteria for extended care. . Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Permanency Planning Policy 54-55, 57 (July 1, 2013). A minimum of monthly contacts with the young adult will continue, at least half of which must be face-to-face contacts in the child’s residence. Id. at 58.

The young adult’s service plan and progress in achieving readiness for living interdependently as an adult will be reviewed at least every 6 months. Id. at 57. The department should also assist with expediting an adoption for a young adult who wishes to be adopted by an individual or family previously licensed as a foster or pre-adoptive family. Id. at 63.

If the permanency plan for the child is another permanency planned living arrangement, “the permanency plan shall address the efforts the department has made to place the child or young adult with a parent or relative or in a guardianship or adoption placement.” Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119, §29B(c).

Re-Entry

Eligibility & Procedure

The department shall “make every reasonable attempt to provide a program of support which is acceptable” to a young adult who requests renewed services after termination. The department may require that young adult meet one of the eligibility criteria set forth in 42 U.S.C. § 675(8)(B)(iv). Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 119, § 23(f).

The young adult must sign a voluntary placement agreement. Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Permanency Planning Policy 58. A young adult may appeal a denial of a request to return to the Department’s care and receive services, if the young adult was in the care or custody of the Department at the age of 18 and is not yet 22 years of age. 110 Mass. Code Regs. 10.06(1)(b).

Courts & Rights

Court Oversight of Extended Care

The committing court shall continue to hold annual permanency hearings as described for young adults who remain in care. Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119, § 29B(b).

The court also “shall retain jurisdiction [over a child or young adult] until it finds, after a hearing at which the person is present unless the person chooses otherwise, that a satisfactory transition plan has been provided for the person.” §29B(c).

Procedure for Continuing Court Oversight

The court shall hold annual permanency hearings for young adults remaining in care. Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119, § 29B

Right to Counsel

The young adult is entitled to counsel. Mass. Gen. Laws, ch. 119,§ 29.

Termination of Extended Care

If at any time the young adult fails to comply with the requirements for sustained connection, the department may elect to terminate the VPA and service provision. The Department must provide at least 30 calendar days notice of termination, as well as notice of right to administrative appeal. The Department must complete 90 day transitional planning with the young adult prior to termination. Id. at 58.

Young adults may appeal the denial of a request to continue to receive services, including placement services, from the Department; and to appeal any the termination of services if they have not reached the age of 22. 110 Mass. Code Regs. 10.06(1)(a), (c).

Subsidies

Eligibility for Extended Adoption Assistance

Pursuant to Department policy, a Title IV-E subsidy may be extended to a young adult who reaches age 18 up to age 21 when (a) the young adult has a mental or physical disability that warrants the continuation of adoption subsidy; or (b) the adoption subsidy agreement was entered into after the child turned age 16, and after age 18 the young adult will be: (a) completing a secondary school or the equivalent; (b) enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school; (c) participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment; (d) employed 80 hours a month; or (e) determined incapable of any of (a)-(d) due to a documented medical condition that meets federal requirements. Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Adoption Subsidy Policy, Policy No. 85-007 § I(9)(B)(1) (Jan. 7, 2013); see also 110 Mass. Code Regs. 7.209(13)(a) (“In exceptional circumstances, the Department in its discretion may continue a federally-supported adoption subsidy until the child turns 21 or a state adoption subsidy until the child turns 22 years of age.”); Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 18B, § 21 (requiring the department to establish an adoption subsidy program).

The department may also extend state adoption subsidy benefits to children reaching age 18 years up to age 22 when the child is completing secondary school or the equivalent or is enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school either full-time or part-time. Dep’t of Children & Families, Adoption Subsidy Policy, Policy No. 85-007 § I(9)(C).

The Department may, at its option, convert a Title IV-E adoption subsidy to a state subsidy when a Title IV-E adoption subsidy ends. Id. In extraordinary circumstances, it may be appropriate to make the youth over age 18 who has been the subject of an adoption subsidy the payee of a state adoption subsidy. Id. § I.4.

Eligibility for Extended Guardianship Assistance

The Department may extend a Title IV-E funded guardianship subsidy between the ages of 18 and 21 if the state has adopted the expanded definition of child pursuant to 42 USC 465(8)(B) and the guardianship subsidy was entered into after the child turned age 16, and the young adult will be: (a) completing a secondary school or the equivalent; (b) enrolled in post-secondary or vocational school; (c) participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment; (d) employed 80 hours a month; or (e) incapable of any of (a)-(d) due to a documented medical condition. Mass. Code Regs. 7.303(13)(b); Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Guardianship Subsidy Policy, Policy No. 2011-002 § (8)(B) (eff. Sept. 30, 201).

If requested by the guardian, the Department will extend a state-funded guardianship subsidy up to the age of 22 for a young adult who is enrolled in a school, vocational program or a college program. Mass. Code Regs. 7.303(13)(a); Mass. Dep’t of Children & Families, Guardianship Subsidy Policy, Policy No. 2011-002 § (8)(A). The Department, at its option, may convert a federally supported subsidy to a state funded subsidy when a federally supported subsidy ends. Id.