julia roberts hugh grant hillThe transition from foster care to adulthood in North Carolina.

1. Age Limits

Age Limit
Legal Source
End of Court Jurisdiction
N.C. Gen. Stat § 7B-200 (2006)
N.C. Gen. Stat § 7B-201 (2006)
Youth age out at 18 but NC requires that counties locate and continue providing services to youth who are 18-21. DHHS John Chafee Foster Care Independence Act North Carolina LINKS report, plan and application for funding 2004-2009 at 5.
Child Welfare Services

Counties have the option of offering CARS agreements (Contractual Agreements for Residential Care) to youth who age out of care or who were discharged and are now young adults. These agreements allow for state contribution to the cost of a licensed foster home while the youth continues his/her education. Regardless of this arrangement, all youth who aged out of foster care must be offered services and resources to facilitate their transition to independence.
Foster Care Medicaid Eligibility
Up to 21
The Foster Care Medicaid Expansion was passed on October 1, 2007. Young adults who age out of North Carolina foster care are eligible for Medicaid coverage without regard to assets or income until age 21. Young adults must apply for the coverage and must also apply for all mandatory Medicaid programs before being enrolled in the program.
2. The Discharge Process
Reasons for Discharge from Foster Care/Child Welfare System
The majority of foster youth are discharged prior to age 18 and are reunified with family or are placed in other permanent arrangements. For those who remain in care until age 18, some remain at least temporarily on a CARS agreement. Most of the others elect to be discharged as soon as they are legally able to do so. Others are discharged because they are no longer enrolled in a school program, are no longer enrolled in a work related program, or are determined non-compliant with program requirements.

Who is the primary decision maker who determines when a youth is discharged from foster care?
The child welfare worker makes a recommendation to the juvenile court.

Court Discharge Procedure? (What is done by the court at the time of discharge? Are there any conditions that must be satisfied before discharge is permitted?)
3. Available Programming
Basic Services:
When developing the 2005-2009 Chafee State Plan, NC decided to implement an outcome-based program which aligns with the federal outcomes targeted for youth exiting the foster care system. The NC LINKS program provides services to all youth in foster care age 16 to 18 and to those young adults who are voluntarily in care between the ages of 18 and 21, as well as to young adults who aged out of foster care at age 18. Most counties also provide services to youth 13-15 and to young adults who did not age out of care, as well as the mandated populations (16-18 in care and aged out youth).
Eligibility Criteria:
To qualify for expenditures, all foster youth have to be a) 13 years or older, and not yet 21, who are or were in DSS foster care at or after the age of 13, b) US citizens or qualified aliens, and c) do not have access to personal resources in excess of $10,000. Youth who need services but do not qualify for funds may still receive the services as long as they do not require extra funds, or as long as they are getting their funds through non-federal sources.
Foster care is defined as being placed in DSS custody. Youth who were discharged from foster care as teens and were reunified, placed with relatives, adopted, married, or emancipated, still remain eligible for LINKS services until their 21st birthday. Also, counties may elect to provide CARS (Contractual Agreement for Residential Services) agreements, which allow youth to voluntarily remain in foster care placement or to return to foster placement as a young adult in order to continue educational or vocational training.
Number and % Eligible Enrolled:
13-15 : 1786
16-18: 1797
18-20: 916
Data collection is a problem because it is collected by county surveys . In order to receive funding from the Chafee program, each county must agree to provide essential services to youth ages 16-18 who are in foster care. Latest data indicate that 2/3 of the grant money is allocated to 100 county programs based on the number of eligible youth in care. Survey data indicate that about 63% of youth 13 to 15 and 66% of youth and young adults 16-20 are receiving LINKS services.
Initiatives Designed to Assist Foster Youth Aging Out:
There are two“LINKS Special Funds” that are set aside from the annual Chafee allocation and which are managed at the state level:
1) Housing Funds: up to $1000 per youth can be used for transitional housing expenses, which includes rent, rent deposits, down payments, or room or board arrangements. These funds are only for young adults who have aged out of foster care. Eligibility renews annually until the youth is 21. (About 1/3 of young adults who age out use these funds)
2) Transitional Funds: Funds available to address non-housing expenses and service needs not fundable through other federal sources. These funds are intended to meet basic needs to avoid financial crises. Typical uses of the funds are for tutoring, furniture, utility payments, assistance with transportation, assistance in connecting a personal support system, and participation in normalizing activities that help to build social networks and positive leisure skills.
Promising Programs/Models:
  • Collaboration with youth advocacy groups to try to allocate the Chafee funds more effectively. NC’s LINKS program, by focusing on individual counties’ needs, may be a very good model for other states where there is a wide distribution of income range and population size.
  • CARS (see above)
  • As in other states, NC has an ETV (education training voucher) program that provides resources to eligible young adults for defraying the costs of attendance at vocational or higher-education opportunities. Orphan Foundation of America contracts with the state to process applications for the funds and to make sure that the funds are not supplanting other available resources. A supplemental contract with OFA also provides e-mentors for students who are either new to post secondary education or are struggling academically.
  • North Carolina has initiated a generous and far-reaching scholarship program for college students who either aged out of N.C.foster care at age 18 or were adopted from the North Carolina foster care system on or after their 12th birthday. Eligibility continues until the individual's 26th birthday. These scholarships will pay for the balance of the cost of attendance at any branch of the University of North Carolina or any North Carolina Community College.
  • Finally, NC is working on linking the LINKS program, Chafee, representatives, coordinators, and individual private agencies electronically to better share their resources and improve their intrastate communication.
4. Juvenile Court
5. Legislation in Response to the Fostering Connections to Success Act
6. Contact Information
Joan McAllister, State Coordinator NC LINKS
325 North Salisbury Street, MSC 2409
Raleigh, N.C. 27699-2409

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