INDEPENDENT LIVING - Florida Guardian ad Litem

Providing a Seamless Transition to
Youth Aging Out of Foster Care
Role of Guardian Ad Litem Program
• Best Interests Representation in the IL arena
– Rights driven area of law
– What does it mean to represent a child’s “best
interests” in IL arena?
– An “open ended and potentially vague term”
• Washington State v. Keffeler, 537 U.S. 371, 390 (2003).
– Staff conflict cases
Transition Issues
• Education
– Payment
• Employment
– Finding a Job
• Having a home
– Food, Furniture, and Money
– Mentor
• Services
– Agency for Persons with Disabilities
– Mental Health/Substance Abuse
Transition Issues
• Medical/Dental Problems
• Social Security Benefits
– Application
• Guardian of the person/property
• Last Minute Changes
• Actual Receipt of Services
– Structure of Service Provision
– Independent Living Budget
Florida’s Independent Living Scheme
• Pre-Transition
– Pre-Independent Living and Life Skills Services
– Subsidized Independent Living Services
– Education and Job Planning
• Transition
– Road to Independence Program
– Aftercare Support Services
– Transitional Support Services
– Extension of Jurisdiction
Pre-independent Living and Life Skills
Services, 409.1451(4)(a)(b)
• Pre-independent Living Services
– 13 or 14 years old living in foster care
– Annual staffing
– Pre-independent Living Assessment
– Services include, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, life
skills training, educational field trips, and
– Report shall be signed by child.
Pre-independent Living and Life Skills
• Life Skills Services
– 15 through 17 years old living in foster care
– Staffing every six months “to ensure that the
appropriate independent living training and
services…are being received and to evaluate the
progress of the child in developing the needed
independent living skills.”
– Life Skills Assessment
– Independent Living Assessment post 17th birthday
– Report shall be signed by child.
Pre-independent Living and Life Skills
• Facts: Child lives in group home. CBC
contracted to provide IL training, but group
home provides the IL training.
• Issue: Is the training received by child
contemplated by the Legislature?
Subsidized Independent Living Services
• Living arrangement allowing the child to live
independent of adult daily care and
supervision in unlicensed setting.
• Services are “part of an overall plan leading to
the total independence of the child from the
department’s supervision.”
• Subsidy payments may be made directly to
the child or to adult approved by DCF.
Subsidized Independent Living Services
• When 16 or 17 years old, MUST be “evaluated
for placement in subsidized living
arrangement” if:
– Adjudicated Dependent
– Placed in licensed out-of-home care for prior 6
– Has permanency goal of adoption, independent
living, or long-term licensed care
– Demonstrates IL skills as determined by DCF using
established procedures and assessments
Subsidized Independent Living Services
• Facts: Child is 16 years old and has lived in
licensed out-of-home care since she was 11.
Child has been adjudicated dependent . The
Case Plan goal is APPLA. DCF has approved
her for services. Child lives in community
where DCF has no established relationships
with landlords.
• Issue: Will child be blocked from receiving
eligible services?
Education and Job Planning
• Department of Children and Families and
Community Based Care Provider are to help
ensure children in foster care aged 13+ are ready
for postsecondary education and the workplace.
• Once child is 14, Case Plan shall include an
educational and career path based upon “the
abilities and interests of each child.” Child is
included in development of this path and may
change path based upon changing needs.
• Case Plan reviewed “at each judicial hearing.”
Education and Job Planning
• Child SHALL choose either:
– Attending 4 year college
– Receiving 2 year degree
– Attaining postsecondary career and technical
– Beginning immediate employment after
completing high school, receiving GED, or enlisting
in military
Education and Job Planning
• Facts: Child is behind two years in school, but
remains on standard diploma track with a 2.0
GPA. Child will age out in five months and
wants to complete her high school education.
She wants to be a nurse.
• Issue: Child’s school and DCM want to change
her track from diploma to GED. Must child
agree to the change?
Road to Independence Program
• Created to help former foster children receive educational
and vocational training needed to achieve independence.
• Maximum benefit determined by youth’s living and
educational needs, but not to exceed an amount equal to
40 hour work week payable at federal minimum wage.
Minimum payment $25.
• Benefit calculation must consider grants, scholarships,
waivers, earnings, and other income to be received by
• Benefits terminated when child attains one of four
postsecondary goals under 409.1451(3) or reaches 23
Road to Independence Program
• Eligible:
– Initial award, 18-20 years old OR
• has earned standard diploma/equivalent or special diploma/
certificate of completion
– Renewal award, under 23 years of age
-- Dependent child
• living in foster care or subsidized independent living when
turn 18;
• is currently in licensed foster care or SIL; or
• is at least 16, adopted or placed with guardian; AND has
spent minimum of 6 months in foster care immediately
preceding such placement or adoption
Road to Independence Program
• Eligible:
– At least 6 months living in foster care before turning
– Resident of Florida
– And one of the following:
• Earned diploma/equivalent or special diploma/certificate of
completion AND has been admitted for full-time enrollment
into eligible postsecondary education institution
• Enrolled full time in accredited high school OR
• Enrolled full time in accredited adult education program
Road to Independence Program
• Full time student is determined by educational institution,
not DCF or CBC. Must have recognized disability to not
attend full time.
• Renewed annually 90 days prior to next birthday.
• Renewal award eligibility:
– Complete full time education hours for past year
– “Maintain appropriate progress” as required by educational
– One time reinstatement allowed for youth not qualifying for
renewal or who has chosen not to renew.
• Restore eligibility:
– Improve progress to level required by educational institution
Road to Independence Program
• Facts: Child is 17 years old and has lived in
foster care for three months. Her IL Plan calls
for her to remain with her foster family paying
rent using her Road to Independence Program
benefits. Two months later, she aged out
living in foster care.
• Issue: Is she eligible for these benefits?
Road to Independence Program
• Facts: Youth turned 18 last week. He lived in foster
care for 2 years after being adjudicated dependent.
He now lives with his cousin into whose home he
moved a week before turning 18. He applied for
Road to Independence Program benefits.
• Issue: Is he eligible for these benefits?
Road to Independence Program
• Facts: Youth receives RTI. After turning 19, he
moved out of State to attend college.
• Issue: Does he remain eligible for RTI
• Facts: Youth lived out of state with a relative
who was a licensed foster care placement.
• Issue: Is child eligible for RTI benefits?
Road to Independence Program
• Facts: Youth receives RTI and attends school
regularly. She’s pregnant. When she has her
baby, her doctor wants her to remain at home
for 6 weeks.
• Issue: Will she continue to receive RTI?
Aftercare Support Services
• Services include, BUT NOT LIMITED TO:
– Mentoring/Tutoring
– Mental Health/Substance Abuse counseling
– Life skills and Parenting classes
– Job, Career, and Financial Literacy Skills Training
– Temporary financial assistance
– Temporary assistance to prevent homelessness
Aftercare Support Services
• Eligible:
– 18-22 years old and services requested before 23
– Leaves foster care at 18
• Eligibility determined by DCF
• Services provided by DCF or community
• Services determined by needs assessment
Aftercare Support Services
• Facts: Youth received Aftercare Support Services
immediately after turning 18 in order to move into an
apartment. Youth has now moved again and needs
further assistance.
• Issue: Are these services a 1 time payment?
• Additional Facts: Youth’s home needs maintenance
• Issue: Can these services be used?
• Additional Facts: Child was in foster care for 5 months.
• Issue: Is child eligible for these services?
Transitional Support Services
• “Appropriate short-term funding and services,
which may include”:
Mental health
Transitional Support Services
• Eligible:
– 18-22 years old
– Formerly in foster care
– Dependent child under chapter 39
– Living in licensed foster care OR subsidized
independent living when turns 18
– At least 6 months in foster care before turning 18
• Eligibility determined by DCF
Transitional Support Services
• Youth must demonstrate that services are CRITICAL
to his/her own efforts to achieve self-sufficiency and
to develop personal support system. Services
terminate when no longer critically needed.
• DCF/CBC work with Youth to develop Joint Transition
Plan based on needs assessment. Plan includes tasks
for which youth is accountable and to complete.
Transitional Support Services
• Facts: Youth has critical need for financial
services, but is not in school.
• Issue: Is youth eligible for services?
Judicial Review
• Within 90 days after 17th birthday, disability of
nonage shall be removed to allow youth to
sign lease.
• JR’s as often as possible until 18
• Child shall be given opportunity to address
• After 17, Case Plan must include provided IL
services since 13 or foster care
• Court may issue Order to Show Cause
Judicial Review
• DCF shall verify that child has received:
– Medicaid card, birth certificate, FL ID,
– Training on budgeting, banking skills, interviewing
and parenting
– Has open bank account or ID necessary to open
– “Clear understanding” of where she will be living,
how living expenses will be paid, and what school
she will attend
Judicial Review
– Giving notice of right to petition for extended
jurisdiction and encouraged to attend all JR’s after
– Information on
• Eligible benefits, including RTI
• Accessing Master Trust funds
• Public Assistance
Extension of Jurisdiction
• Jurisdiction retained until child turns 18
– Youth petitions the court ANYTIME before 19th
birthday requesting continued jurisdiction
– Court MAY retain jurisdiction until 19th birthday to
determine whether a child in care before 18th
birthday has been provided APPROPRIATE
• Aftercare/Transitional Support Services
• Road to Independence Program Services
• Mental Health/Developmental Disabilities Services
Extension of Jurisdiction
• Misconception: Extension of Jurisdiction
absolutely necessary for provision of services
• Benefit: Gives youth support during transition
Extension of Jurisdiction
• Facts: GAL attorney represents the Program.
The volunteer represents the best interests of
the child.
• Issue: Does GAL attorney file motion to
extend jurisdiction?
• Additional Fact: Child has IQ of 50.
• Issue: Same question.
Actual Receipt of Services
• Understand working relationship between
– Who does what and when
• Structure of Service Provision
– Community Based Care Provider’s Contract with
the Department
– Subcontractor’s Contract with Community Based
Care Provider
Actual Receipt of Services
• Independent Living Budget
– Impact on service availability
– Impact on service eligibility
– Impact on service delivery
Advocating to Solve Transition Issues
• Child’s participation in planning and Court
• Understand child’s needs
• Plan Ahead
• Make sure child understands rights
– Example: School enrollment vs. attendance
Advocating to Solve Transition Issues
• Know:
– Independent Living Law and Rules
– Available IL and Other Benefits and Services
– Independent Living Placements
– Service Provision Structure
– GALP website resources
• Ensure IL Plan in place before 18th birthday
• Assist beyond 18th birthday
Advocating to Solve Transition Issues
• Develop relationship with director of:
Local DCF Office
Local Community Based Care provider
Local Independent Living Service provider
Local Agency for Persons with Disability
• Establish:
– Relationship with:
• CBC Revenue/Benefits Department
• Community Service Providers
– IL Stakeholder Group
• Design and Establish IL Court
– Judges Baumann, Blanc and others
Advocating to Solve Transition Issues
• Establish a Proactive Litigation Design
– Active motion practice
• Resolve all eligibility issues with Court orders so in
transition no one case question eligibility
– Develop working relationship with Children’s Legal
– Attorney/Volunteer Meeting Schedule
– Active Volunteer Assignment and Court Presence
• Assign volunteer relatable to teen
Advocating to Solve Transition Issues
• Understand:
– Impact of legal permanent residency status upon
receipt of benefits
– Continuation of SSI and SSA benefits
– Impact of developmental disability on child
receiving services
• Representative Payee
• Guardian of person/property
• APD Services
– Crisis Waiver
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