The Department of Children and Families shall provide services to an individual between 18 and 21 if (a) the individual was receiving services from the department on or after the individual’s 16th birthday; (b) on or after the individual’s 18th birthday, he has not refused or requested that such services be terminated; and (c) the commissioner determines a continuation of services would be in the individual’s best interest and would assist him in becoming “an independent and productive adult.” N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-2.3.
Pursuant to Department policy, cases may remain open for “adolescents”—defined as individuals between ages 18 and 21—if the youth meets at least one of the following requirements:
- Received services from DCF at age 16 or older.
- Is in a Child Protection and Permanency-supervised or -funded out-of-home placement and agrees to accept continued case management services from CP&P, including continued board payments. This includes adolescents in foster care or independent living settings.
- The Worker and Supervisor, as part of an assessment that actively engages the adolescent, conclude that continuation of services is in the adolescent's best interest, e.g., to facilitate completion of high school, GED< post-secondary education, vocational program.
- Clinical reasons exist, e.g., “a severely depressed adolescent may need continued counseling services and support.”
- Continued work towards the goals outlined in his or her Transitional Plan for Adolescents.
- Fully employed (30 hours per week or more) and earns less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for a family of one or needs non-financial CP&P services.
- Is pregnant.
N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-III-A-1-500 (2012); see also CP&P-V-A-1-600 (2012), (outlining services to pregnant women).
Case Management Requirements
Six months prior to the adolescent's 18th birthday the Worker engages the youth in a service needs assessment. Areas assessed include the need for services to achieve the goal of independence and self-sufficiency, education, finances, housing and healthcare. The Worker (ideally with the adolescent) contacts significant case collaterals (e.g, parent, foster parent, "caring adult," agencies, service providers, teachers) to discuss the adolescent's need for services after age 18. N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-III-A-1-500 (2012).
The Worker shall have face-to-face contact with an adolescent in independent living at least once every month. The Worker is required to visit the adolescent at the adolescent’s residence at least once every three (3) months, at least four visits per year. For adolescents who attend college in state and live on campus, the Worker shall visit once every three months; for out-of-state college students, the Worker shall have face-to-fact contact with the adolescent when the adolescent is back at the resource home or other placement location while on school break. CP&P-III-C-3-100 (2014).
The Division continues to conduct internal placement reviews for adolescents age 18 and older. CP&P-III-A-1-500.
The Child Placement Review Board may continue to review an adolescent's case, if the court indicates that it will retain jurisdiction after the adolescent turns 18 years of age. CP&P-III-A-1-500.
Direct Payment to Youth
Youth ages 18-21 who are in an independent living placement may receive an independent living stipend if they have signed the Voluntary Services Agreement and are in compliance with the expectations therein, including participation in the development of their transition plan; have an income less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for a family of one; and have agreed to and signed the Independent Living Stipend Responsibility Agreement. N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-VI-A-2-200 (2017).
A youth in a licensed resource home or congregate care placement is not considered an independent living placement and therefore is not eligible for the independent living stipend. Youth ages 18-21 who return home and resume a residential situation with a parent, legal guardian, or custodian, are also ineligible for the independent living stipend. N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-VI-A-2-200 (2017).
In addition, if an adopted child over age 18 remains subsidy eligible, but the adoptive parent is not providing support, “the subsidy may, upon the approval of the Assistant Director of Adoption Operations, be paid directly to the adopted child.” N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-IV-C-8-500 (2018).
Eligibility & Procedure
Services shall be reinstated to an adolescent up to age 21 if
(A) the adolescent was receiving services from the Department on or after age 16;
(B) the adolescent requested services be reinstated; and
(C) continuation of services would be in the adolescent’s best interest.
N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-III-A-1-500 (2012.
Any youth who meets all of the conditions above can request his or her case be reopened for appropriate services. The State Central Registry, SCR, shall reopen the adolescent's case, based upon his or her request and professed willingness to accept services. The SCR Screener documents the request as a Child Welfare Service (CWS) referral. SCR assigns the referral to the appropriate Local Office for response, an assessment of the adolescent's needs, and the provision of services, as necessary and applicable. The adolescent's case may remain open until his or her 21st birthday. Id.
Courts & Rights
Court Oversight of Extended Care
The Family Part of the Chancery Division of the Superior Court has continuing jurisdiction over the placement of a child. N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-53.
Termination of Extended Care
Department may consider closing case of adolescent if:
- Adolescent refuses to cooperate or participate in the case plan or transitional plan, or requests that his or her case be closed despite attempts by CP&P to actively engage the adolescent.
- The adolescent and Worker mutually agree that he or she is no longer in need of services or support from CP&P; or
- Adolescent turns 21 years of age.
However, case cannot be closed if CP&P has custody or the case is active in CP&P litigation. N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-III-A-1-500 (2012). The adolescent may challenge decision to close case though a formal dispute resolution process. Id.; see also CP&P-IX-E-1-100, available at (outlining formal and informal dispute resolution policy and procedures).
Eligibility for Extended Adoption Assistance
Adoption assistance payments shall be made after age 18, “until the child becomes 21 years of age if the child is enrolled as a verified, full-time student of a secondary school or its equivalent.” N.J. Stat. § 30:4C-47.
The Division will consider Home Schooling programs to be secondary school equivalents for purposes of satisfying this requirement. N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-IV-C-8-500 (2018).
Pursuant to Department policy, if an adopted child over age 18 remains subsidy eligible, but the adoptive parent is not providing support, “the subsidy may, upon the approval of the Assistant Director of Adoption Operations, be paid directly to the adopted child.” N.J. Dep’t of Children & Fams., Children and Families Policy Manual, CP&P-IV-C-8-500 (2018).
Eligibility for Extended Guardianship Assistance
Guardianship assistance payment terminate when the child reaches age 18 or when the child is no longer continuously enrolled in a secondary education program, whichever event occurs later. N.J. Admin. Code § 10:132A-1.10.