Tips for Non-Minor Dependents under AB12 & Emancipating Youth
What's the difference between a non-minor dependent and a former foster youth? A non-minor dependent is someone who’s chosen to keep his or her dependency case open at age 18 and remain in “foster care.” This is a new possibility under California’s 2012 law called Assembly Bill 12 (AB12). A non-minor dependent keeps his or her attorney, and has a social worker. A former foster youth is someone who chose not stay in the system under AB12. A former foster youth no longer has an attorney or court dates, but there are still ways to get help (see TIPS FOR EMANCIPATING FOSTER YOUTH below).
Information for Non-Minor Dependents
What does AB12 do?
AB12 allows anyone who was in foster care on their 18th birthday (as of 2012) to choose to keep their case open until age 21. This means that you will still have your social worker, access to services, a lawyer, and the court’s involvement. AB12 is often called Extended Foster Care since you have the option to stay in care from 18-21.
What is different about being over 18, but still in foster care?
The goal of AB12 is to help you transition to adulthood, so the biggest difference is now you are treated more like an adult with greater responsibility. You and your social worker will agree to a Transitional Independent Living Plan with the following goals in mind:
- Develop permanent connections with caring and committed adults.
- Develop independent living skills and have opportunities for incremental responsibility.
- Live in the least restrictive placement.
Why is AB12 a great option?
AB12 is awesome if you are someone who could still use some extra support at 18. Most young adults need extra support when they enter the adult world. AB12 is intended to provide that support (like help finding a job, housing, and reaching your educational goals). The help of a social worker and the advocacy of a lawyer are two huge reasons to do AB12. The other great thing about AB12 is the housing options.
Am I going to be treated like a child still?
No! You are highly involved in finding the most appropriate placement to fit your needs. You have more freedom to decide what you’re involved with, because now you’re an adult. You will be expected to try your best at work or school, be respectful to your service providers, and take responsibility for your actions.
What must I do to be eligible for AB12?
This is important. In order to stay qualified for AB12, you must be doing one or more of the following:
- Completing high school or equivalent program; (i.e. GED) OR
- Enrolled in college, community college or a vocational education program; OR
- Employed at least 80 hours a month; OR
- Participating in a program designed to remove barriers to employment (this is the “safety net” category which is intended to support young adults until they can find employment or enroll in school); OR
- Unable to do one of the above requirements because of a medical condition (short or long-term medical or mental health condition as verified by a health practitioner).
Where would I live if I stayed in under AB12?
If you decide to stay in foster care past the age of 18, you have many housing options. You can stay in the foster home you’re living in now, you can apply for a transitional housing program (see info below), or, if you’re ready you can have a new placement option called a Supervised Independent Living Placement (SILP, see below) where you live with roommates, by yourself, or you rent a room from someone.
Can I stay in my group home?
AB12 says you can stay in your group home until you turn 19, or when you graduate from high school. However, there could be a short-term exception if you have a medical condition.
What is a SILP?
SILP stands for Supervised Independent Living Placement. A non-minor dependent must demonstrate an ability to live independently to qualify for a SILP. The main perk to a SILP is that the foster care benefits check is issued to the non-minor dependent directly. The current SILP payment amount is $850 a month.
TIP#1: you can get your SILP check directly deposited in your checking account so you have the money much quicker — ask your social worker about this.
TIP #2: it can take 6 or more weeks for the first SILP check to arrive, so you must have a plan to pay the first few months of rent if you’re moving into a new place.
TIP#3: consider renting a room from a family or friend if you don’t have enough saved to start a new lease.
TIP#4: do not sign a lease without talking to your lawyer first. An apartment lease is a binding legal contract and can have some serious consequences.
What is Transitional Housing?
Under AB12, a new transitional housing placement is available. It’s called THP+FC (Transitional Housing Placement Plus Foster Care). THP+FC is a great option for non-minor dependents who want to live more independently, but aren’t ready for the super independent SILP option. THP+FC allows you to live in a home or an apartment in the community (usually with roommates) with some support and supervision. Each county has various providers of transitional housing. That list can be found by clicking here. Note that there are waitlists for most transitional housing programs, so plan ahead. For more information on THP+FC, go to http://thpplus.org/.
Do I have to come to court every six months?
At your Status Review Hearing every six months, you are required to come to court physically, or be available to participate via speaker phone. If you can’t do either because of work or school, let your attorney or social worker know.
What if I want to leave foster care sometime before I turn 21?
That is totally your choice, and you are free to do so. Tell your lawyer, and he or she will counsel you on how to do this.
What is the deal with re-entry?
AB12 is in place so foster youth have a safety net between the ages of 18 and 21. If you were eligible for AB12 at age 18, but later decide to leave, you can re-enter any time before turning 21. Contact us, or your old social worker, and we’ll get your case re-opened. It will involve filling out this form: JV 466. Feel free to download, print, and fill in the JV 466 form to speed up the process. You can call our office at 510-496-5200 and say that you want to re-enter foster care to get help. Once the JV 466 is filed at the Juvenile Clerk’s Office, the judge will set a hearing within 15 court days. You must be present at that hearing.
This is a great option if you find yourself without a place to live, or you need support in finding work or getting into school.
Will the court ever close my case once I’m under AB12?
Yes, your AB12 services and support can be suspended if any of the following happen:
- You request for your case to be closed.
- The juvenile court makes a finding that you are not in compliance with one of the five participation conditions above.
- You’re not living in a supervised foster care setting (like if you’re AWOL for a long time or couch surfing).
- You get married.
- You join the military.
What happens if my social worker recommends that my AB12 case be dismissed?
It’s best that you talk this through with your lawyer. The best thing you can do is provide proof of participation compliance, such as a pay stub or a class schedule. If you have neither, get involved in a program that could help you get employment as soon as you can!
Can I live out of county or state and still be a part of AB12?
Yes, as long as the placement is approved.
Can non-minor dependents still get Medi-Cal and a clothing allowance?
Yes and yes. Because of the Affordable Care Act, all youth who are in foster care on their 18th birthday now get Medi-Cal until they are 26. More information on this can be found here.
If I have a baby can I stay in AB12?
Can I live with my biological parents and still be under AB12?
What if I am on adult criminal probation?
This does not make you ineligible for AB12. However, if you become incarcerated, you may not qualify. If you are a non-minor dependent and you pick up criminal charges, be sure to tell the attorney that represents you in criminal court that you are in foster care.
Tips for Current and Former Foster Youth
Self-Identify as a current or former foster youth
Whether you go to a community college, or a four year college, it’s a good idea to self-identify as a foster youth on campus. There are certain benefits available to foster youth in college (such as Priority Enrollment). Be sure to apply to the EOP or EOPS program because they can give you additional support on campus.
Board of Governors Fee Waiver
This waiver allows foster youth to get their community college tuition waived. Go to the financial aid office at your school and ask to fill out the form.
This is a special grant for foster youth that you can apply for online. Check it out here. Even if you don’t get the Chafee Grant the first time, make sure to apply the next year because you’ll have a better chance of getting it.
You must fill out the FAFSA in order to get the Chafee Grant. This must be filled out every year. Go here to check it out here.
Don’t let the lack of money discourage you from pursuing your goals!
Current and former foster youth are eligible for financial assistance to help cover the costs of housing, college tuition, vocational training programs among other things. Talk to your attorney, social worker, and college staff to find out what you qualify for! If you are an Alameda County current or former foster youth, call Beyond Emancipation to meet with an education specialist.
Resume & Applications
Ask someone to look over your resume and application before you submit it. Even if you haven’t had tons of work experience, a resume will still impress an employer. Ask your attorney, social worker, CASA, or someone at BE or ILSP to look it over for you!
Job Placement Organizations
Look into local job training and placement organizations in the county. They can help you find a job, and have the skills to do well! Some examples are Youth Uprising, Youth Employment Partnership (YEP).
ILSP & Beyond Emancipation
Have you been attending ILSP? Going one night a week can really help prepare you for independent living! They have great staff committed to helping you learn the skills you need for adulthood. Beyond Emancipation is also a great resource in Alameda County. You can go anytime between 9am and 4pm to do an intake with someone who may be able to help you with employment, education, housing, and other independent living matters. You are eligible to participate in ILSP at age 15 ½. ILSP offers support and assistance with applying for college and obtaining scholarships, transitional housing assistance, skills needed to live successfully on your own, such as household budgeting, nutrition and managing your finances. We all need to learn these skills!
Other Important Tips
Make sure that you have original copies of your birth certificate, social security card, Medi-Cal card, legal residency card ( if you are a non-US citizen), and a history of your placements and experiences in the system. California law requires that your social worker ensure that you have all of these documents and important papers in your possession before your case is dismissed.
Attend your court hearings!
The hearings discuss what has been happening with you and it is important to attend court make sure statements made about you are accurate. It is an opportunity for you to make your voice heard, play an active role in making decisions that impact your life and let the judge know what assistance you need.
NOTE: If you’re a NMD (in the system over the age of 18) your attendance is required, either in person or by phone.
You juvenile record for foster care will remain open for 5 years if you do not take action to seal it. If you have a juvenile delinquency record, that juvenile record always remains open unless you seal it. It is important to seal your delinquency record because employers can get access to that information and it may impact your opportunities for employment. Ask your attorney where to go to get your record sealed. Note: cost is $150. A great resource for record sealing in Alameda County is East Bay Community Law Center.
At age 12, you have a right to review your case file, case plan and court reports. Know what is being written about you. Be an active participant in the development of your case plan. Important decisions are made based on information contained in these documents and you should have an active role in the decision-making process. Your lawyer can be of a lot of help for you. Build that relationship!
Consider asking for a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA)
CASAs are local volunteers with special training to work with and for foster youth. Nonminor dependents are eligible for CASAs too. They can be great role models and a source of help, encouragement, and knowledge. They typically work one on one with the youth and can devote more time to helping the youth reach his or her goals. Ask your social worker or attorney to make a referral!
CalFRESH (formerly known as Food Stamps)
Whether you are a former foster youth, or you’re currently a non-minor dependent, you could be eligible for CalFresh. This is money each month that is used to buy food and other necessities. Go to your local Social Services office and fill out an application. Be sure to tell them if you are a non-minor dependent.
Whether you emancipate from the foster care system after 18, or if you stay in until age 21 under AB12, you are entitled to Medi-Cal insurance until age 26. Go here for more information.