Eligibility

General Eligibility

The Department is authorized to establish a foster care benefits program and to extend benefits to a youth between ages 18 and 21 who is: (i) completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential, (ii) enrolled in an institution that provides postsecondary or vocational education, (iii) participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to, employment, (iv) employed for at least 80 hours per month, or (v) incapable of completing (i) – (iv) due to a medical condition or disability. N.C. Gen. Stat. §108A-48(c).

Youth may live in a foster care facility or, with monthly supervision and oversight by the department or supervising agency, in an approved semi-supervised housing arrangement, including a college dorm. N.C. Gen. Stat. §108A-48(d); see also N.C. Gen. Stat. § 131D-10.2B (providing for foster care until age 21 in the Foster Care Children’s Bill of Rights).

Youth must have been in foster care upon turning 18, agree to reside in an approved placement, and enter into a Voluntary Placement Agreement with a county child welfare agency. N.C. DIV. OF SOCIAL SERVS., FAMILY SUPPORT AND CHILD WELFARE MANUAL, FAMILY SUPPORT AND CHILD WELFARE MANUAL, Child Placement Servs., Change # 04-2016, § 1201(XII)(C) (Dec. 2016).

Extension Process

Voluntary Care Agreement Requirement

Pursuant to department policy, youth must enter into a Voluntary Placement Agreement with the county child welfare agency. “The agreement is valid until the young adult turns 21 years of age, the young adult no longer meets eligibility criteria, the young adult terminates the agreement verbally or in writing, the court determines the young adult is not meeting the goals of the Transitional Living Plan and/or the young adult has violated the Voluntary Placement Agreement for Foster Care 18 to 21, or the young adult has been absent from his / her approved placement for more than 30 days without prior approval from the county department of social services, and the court terminates services.” § 1201(XII)(D). N.C. DIV. OF SOCIAL SERVS., FAMILY SUPPORT AND CHILD WELFARE MANUAL, FAMILY SUPPORT AND CHILD WELFARE MANUAL, Child Placement Servs., Change # 04-2016, § 1201(XII)(C) (Dec. 2016).

Direct Payment to Youth

Foster care maintenance payments can be paid directly to the youth whether he or she is residing in a licensed or unlicensed placement setting. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1201(XII)(C).

Re-Entry

Eligibility & Procedure

A child who initially chooses to opt out of foster care upon attaining the age of 18 years may opt to receive foster care services at a later date until reaching 21 years of age.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 131D-10.2B(a).

Courts & Rights

Court Oversight of Extended Care

The court shall review the placement of youth in extended care. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-910.1(a).

Procedure for Continuing Court Oversight

The court shall make findings from evidence presented at this review hearing with regard to all of the following: (1) Whether the placement is in the best interest of the young adult in foster care; (2) The services that have been or should be provided to the young adult in foster care to improve the placement; (3) The services that have been or should be provided to the young adult in foster care to further the young adult's educational or vocational ambitions, if relevant.” N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-910.1(a).

“The review hearing shall be held not more than 90 days from the date the [CARS] was executed. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 7B-910.1(a).

Right to Counsel

No guardian ad litem shall be appointed to represent the youth for these hearings. § 7B-910.1(c).

Subsidies

Eligibility for Extended Adoption Assistance

If all other eligibility criteria are met, adoption assistance payments may continue until the beneficiary reaches the age of 21. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 108A-49(e).

Eligibility for Extended Guardianship Assistance

North Carolina does not offer guardianship assistance for youth of any age.