Eligibility

General Eligibility 

“Child” means: (a) A person less than eighteen years of age; or (b) A person age eighteen to twenty-one years who is eligible to receive the extended foster care services. Wash. Rev. Code § 74.13.020(2).

The Code also refers to youth in extended care as “nonminor dependents,” which “means any individual age eighteen to twenty-one years who is participating in extended foster care services.” § 74.13.020(11).

The department shall provide foster care services to nonminor dependents who are dependent and in foster care at the time of their 18th birthday and are: (i) enrolled in a secondary education program or a secondary education equivalency program; (ii) enrolled and participating in a postsecondary academic or postsecondary vocational education program; (iii) participating in a program or activity designed to promote employment or remove barriers to employment; (iv) engaged in employment for eighty hours or more per month; or (v) not able to engage in activities (i) – (iv) due to a documented medical condition. Wash. Rev. Code § 74.13.031(11).

Youth must also consent to continued court jurisdiction and to entry of a dependency order. § 74.13.336. To remain in care, unless otherwise authorized by court order, the youth must “(1) Agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written extended foster care agreement; (2) Maintain the standard of eligibility as set by the youth’s academic program, employment related program, employment status, or documented medical condition; (3) Participate in the case plan, including monthly health and safety visits; (4) Acknowledge that [Children’s Administration (“CA”)] has responsibility for the youth's care and placement by authorizing CA to have access to [enumerated records]; and (5) Remain in the approved foster care placement and follow placement rules as follows:(a) Stay in the placement identified by CA or approved by the court; (b) Obtain approval from his or her social worker and notify his or her caregiver for extended absences from the placement of more than three days; and (c) Comply with court orders and any specific rules developed in collaboration by the youth, caregiver and social worker.” Wash. Admin. Code 388-25-0546.

Justice-Involved Youth

For purposes of determining eligibility for extended care, youth is considered to be “in foster care” at the time of his or her eighteenth birthday if the youth is committed to juvenile justice and rehabilitation administration custody and resides in a foster home, group home, or community facility. Wash. Admin. Code 388-25-0508(3).

Extension Process

Voluntary Care Agreement Requirement

Youth must agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written extended foster care agreement. Wash. Admin. Code 388-25-0546.

Contents of Voluntary Care Agreement

youth must “(1) Agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written extended foster care agreement; (2) Maintain the standard of eligibility as set by the youth’s academic program, employment related program, employment status, or documented medical condition; (3) Participate in the case plan, including monthly health and safety visits; (4) Acknowledge that [Children’s Administration (“CA”)] has responsibility for the youth's care and placement by authorizing CA to have access to [enumerated records]; and (5) Remain in the approved foster care placement and follow placement rules as follows:(a) Stay in the placement identified by CA or approved by the court; (b) Obtain approval from his or her social worker and notify his or her caregiver for extended absences from the placement of more than three days; and (c) Comply with court orders and any specific rules developed in collaboration by the youth, caregiver and social worker.” Wash. Admin. Code 388-25-0546.

Re-Entry

Eligibility & Procedure

Eligible youth may re-enter care until age 21 If the dependency case of the nonminor dependent was dismissed pursuant to RCW 13.34.267, he or she may receive extended foster care services pursuant to a voluntary placement agreement under RCW 74.13.336 or pursuant to an order of dependency issued by the court under RCW 13.34.268.

A nonminor dependent whose dependency case was dismissed by the court must have requested extended foster care services before reaching age twenty-one years. Eligible nonminor dependents may unenroll and reenroll in extended foster care through a voluntary placement agreement an unlimited number of times between ages eighteen and twenty-one. Wash. Rev. Code § 74.13.031(11)(b), (e).

Youth must meet one of criteria (i) – (v) above when requesting to re-enter care. Wash. Admin. Code 388-25-0506(2). If a youth prior to reaching age twenty-one years requests extended foster care services from the department, and the department declines to enter into a voluntary placement agreement with the youth, the department must provide written documentation to the youth which contains: (i) The date that the youth requested extended foster care services; (ii) The department's reasons for declining to enter into a voluntary placement agreement with the youth and the date of the department's decision; and (iii) Information regarding the youth's right to ask the court to establish a dependency for the purpose of providing extended foster care services and his or her right to counsel to assist in making that request. The written documentation must be provided to the youth within ten days of the department's decision not to enter into a voluntary placement agreement with the youth. § 13.34.268(2)(a).

The court must set a hearing to determine whether the petition should be granted, and the youth must be provided counsel at no cost to him or her. § 13.34.268(2)(b).

Courts & Rights

Court Oversight of Extended Care

“In order to facilitate the delivery of extended foster care services, the court, upon the agreement of the youth to participate in the extended foster care program, shall maintain the dependency proceeding for any youth who is dependent in foster care at the age of eighteen years and who, at the time of his or her eighteenth birthday,” meets eligibility criteria for extended care. § 13.34.267(1).

The court shall appoint counsel to represent the youth. § 13.34.267(6).

If the Department declines to provide extended foster care services, the youth may file file a notice of intent to file a petition for dependency, asking the court to determine his or her eligibility for extended foster care services, and to enter an order of dependency. Youth must file the petition within 30 days of the date of the Department's decision. § 13.34.268(2)(1).

The court must set a hearing date to determine whether the petition will be granted. § 13.34.268(2)(b).

Procedure for Continuing Court Oversight

The court shall maintain the dependency proceeding for eligible youth who consent. Wash. Rev. Code § 13.34.267(1).

The youth is considered a party to the proceeding, but the youth's parent or guardian must be dismissed hwen the youth reaches the age of 18. § 13.34.267(3).

The case plan for and delivery of services to a youth receiving extended foster care services is subject to the review requirements set forth in RCW 13.34.138 and 13.34.145, and should be applied in a developmentally appropriate manner, as they relate to youth age eighteen to twenty-one years. Additionally, the court shall consider: (a) Whether the youth is safe in his or her placement; (b) Whether the youth continues to be eligible for extended foster care services; (c) Whether the current placement is developmentally appropriate for the youth; (d) The youth's development of independent living skills; and (e) The youth's overall progress toward transitioning to full independence and the projected date for achieving such transition. (8) Prior to the review hearing, the youth's attorney shall indicate whether there are any contested issues and may provide additional information necessary for the court's review. Wash. Rev. Code §13.34.267(7).

Right to Counsel

The court shall appoint counsel to represent a youth, as defined in RCW 13.34.030(2)(b), in dependency proceedings under this section. § 13.34.267(6).

The court must provide counsel at no cost to a youth who files notice of intent to file a petition for dependency when the Department declines to provide extended care. § 13.34.268(2)(b).

Termination of Extended Care

The court shall dismiss the dependency proceeding for any youth who is a dependent in foster care and who, at the age of eighteen years, does not meet any of the criteria described in subsection (1)(a) through (e) of this section or does not agree to participate in the program. Wash. Rev. Code § 13.34.267(4).

Subsidies

Eligibility for Extended Adoption Assistance

The department shall have authority to provide adoption support benefits, or relative guardianship subsidies on behalf of youth ages 18 - 21 who achieved permanency through adoption or a relative guardianship at age sixteen or older and who meet criteria (i) – (v) above. § 74.13.031(12); see also §§ 74.13A.020(3)(c) (authorizing adoption assistance payment beyond age 18 if warranted), 13.36.090 (authorizing payment of guardianship subsidy to a “relative guardian who is a licensed foster parent at the time the guardianship is established under this chapter and who has been the child's foster parent for a minimum of six consecutive months preceding entry of the guardianship order”).

Pursuant to regulation and Administration policy, adoption assistance payments may continue between 18 and 21 if (a) the youth is a full-time high school student or working full time toward the completion of a GED or high school equivalency certificate, continues to receive financial support from the adoptive parent(s), and the parents requested continued support prior to the youth’s 18th birthday; or (b) the youth was adopted at the age of 16 or older and meets eligibility criteria (i) – (iv) above. Wash. Admin. Code 388-27-0210; WASH. STATE DEP’T OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVS., CHILDREN’S ADMIN. PRACTICES & PROCEDURE GUIDE, No. 5700(3) (2016).

Eligibility for Extended Guardianship Assistance

Pursuant to Administration policy, relative guardianship assistance payment may continue between 18 and 21 if the youth achieved permanency through guardianship (a) at the age of 16 or older and meets eligibility criteria (i) – (v) above; or (b) has a mental or physical handicap which warrants the continuation of assistance. WASH. STATE DEP’T OF SOCIAL AND HEALTH SERVS., CHILDREN’S ADMIN. PRACTICES & PROCEDURE GUIDE, No. 43401(5) (2017).