On August 1, 2012 changes to Minnesota law regarding continuing foster care past age 18 ("extended foster care") will go into effect. The new statutes amend previous laws in order to implement the federal Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act requirements:
Eligibility & Requirements
- Youth are ineligible if they can safely return home, receive adult services due to a developmental disability, be adopted, or have a permanent legal home with a relative prior to age 18.
- Youth must meet one of five criteria from Fostering Connections, which are: working at least 80 hours per month, completing high school or equivalent, enrolled in postsecondary education, working to remove barriers to employment, or unable to do any of these due to a documented disability.
Required Youth Services
- Youth will now be given information about health care directives.
- All youth will receive annually a free consumer credit report as well as assistance in interpreting it and support to resolve any inaccuracies.
- An independent living plan is now required for all youth in out-of-home placement if they are age 16 or older, regardless of their permanency status or disposition.
Social Worker Responsibilities
- All youth records and histories are to be maintained until the youth reaches age 21, is legally adopted, or is discharged from foster care.
- Six months before a youth turns 18, the social worker must provide the youth with written notice of his/her right to continue foster care services until age 21.
- This must also include the requirements for the youth to remain in or re-enter foster care.
Court & Agency Rules & Procedures
- Agencies are required to file a copy of a notice with the court six months prior to when a youth age 16 or older is expected to be discharged from foster care.
- If a youth wants to remain in or return to foster care after age 18, s/he must sign a voluntary placement agreement; if the court case is not open, social services is required to petition to have it re-opened.
- For those youth between ages 18 and 21 who are voluntarily in foster care, court jurisdiction is required to continue, with at least one court review every year.
- The court may maintain jurisdiction until age 19 even if the youth does not choose to remain in foster care past age 18, if it is determined to be in the youth's best interest, to protect their health or safety, to assist with independent living and transition services, or to support the completion of secondary education.
- The responsible social service agency still has a legal responsibility for youth in placement and care up to age 21, despite any previous guardianship or permanent custody order that terminates when the youth turns 18.
- Procedures are outlined for terminating foster care benefits for youth who no longer meet criteria for extended foster care; these include providing notice and appeal rights.