Eligibility

General Eligibility

The Department is authorized to develop a program to provide services to youth aged 18 – 21 were in the custody of the Department on their 18th birthday and who are (1) completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential; (2) enrolled in an institution which provides postsecondary or vocational education; (3) participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to employment; (4) employed for at least 80 hours per month; or (5) incapable of doing activities (1) – (4) due to a medical condition, including a developmental or intellectual condition and who complies with a course of treatment as recommended by the department. Tenn. Code § 37-2-417(b).

Extension Process

Voluntary Care Agreement Requirement

Youth must sign voluntary care agreement pursuant to Department policy. STATE OF TENN. DEP’T OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES, ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: 16.52(A) (2014).

Re-Entry

Eligibility & Procedure

The Department is authorized to make “available to any person who meets the requirements [for extended foster care] but refused such services at the time of the person's eighteenth birthday if at any time the person seeks to regain services prior to the person's twenty-first birthday.” Tenn. Code § 37-2-417(c).

Pursuant to Department policy, young adults eligible for extended foster care may return and request re-establishment of foster care until their 21st birthday. STATE OF TENN. DEP’T OF CHILDREN’S SERVICES, ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES AND PROCEDURES: 16.52(A)(5).

Courts & Rights

Court Oversight of Extended Care

A person over the age of 18 shall be allowed to remain under the continuing jurisdiction of the juvenile court for purposes of the voluntary extension of services pursuant to § 37-2-417. Tenn. Code § 37-1-102(b)(5)(G).

Subsidies

Eligibility for Extended Adoption Assistance

Pursuant to Department Policy, federally funded adoption assistance payments may continue for an applicable child age 18 or older up until their 21st birthday, provided the child is completing full-time secondary school (high school) or a program leading to an equivalent credential, is enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational education, or is incapable of doing any educational or employment activities due to a medical condition and was a least age sixteen (16) at the time of adoption finalization. Verification of school attendance or medical incapacities will have to be provided annually. School attendance will be verified and documented annually by the educational institution or a medical professional. State of Tenn. Dep’t of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures: 15.11(P)(7)(d) (2017).

For Title IV-E non- applicable children, adoption assistance will be provided until the child is 21 years of age if the child has a documented mental or physical disability, which warrants continuation as determined by the Review of Eligibility Process. 15.11(P)(7)(e).

State-funded adoption assistance will be provided between ages 18 and 19 as long as the youth is attending high school full-time.

15.11(P)(7)(c). If a youth has been determined eligible for continuation of State Funded and Title IV-E Fostering Connections Adoption Assistance beyond the youth’s 18th birthday, the youth must maintain continual full time school enrollment and attendance. Breaks in full time attendance and enrollment will disqualify the youth for continued eligibility. The only exception is in instances where the educational institution considers the break to be normal or customary for the school year. 15.11(R)

The Department maintains in its policy the authority to implement adoption assistance for youth who meet any of the Title IV-E education and employment eligibility criteria in the event that additional funding becomes available. 15.11(P). 

Eligibility for Extended Guardianship Assistance

Federally funded: Title IV-E children who are the subject matter of a subsidy agreement at age 16 or older on or after October 1, 2010, are eligible for guardianship assistance payments until the child is age 21 if the child: (a) Is a full time high school student; or (b) In an approved secondary program leading to an equivalent credential; (c) Is expected to graduate by their 21st birthday; (d) Is enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational education; or (e) Is determined incapable of employment/attending school due to a documented medical condition. State of Tenn. Dep’t of Children’s Services, Administrative Policies and Procedures § 15.15(M)(7) (2015).

Children who were the subject of a subsidy agreement entered into on or after December 1, 2006, can also remain eligible until the child is age 21 if the child has a documented mental or physical disability, which warrants continuation of the subsidy. § 15.15(M)(8).

State funded: children who were age 16 years of age or older when their SPG Agreement went into effect on or after October 1, 2010, will remain eligible beyond the age of 18 up until the child graduates from high school or turns 19 years old, whichever comes first. § 15.15(M)(9).