Child Welfare Policy Manual

September 01, 2014

8.3A.2  TITLE IV-E, Foster Care Maintenance Payments Program, Eligibility, Age

1. Question: For what classes of title IV-E eligible children does title IV-E allow continuation of foster care maintenance payments after age 18 and reimbursements for those payments? May a State, for example, claim Federal financial participation (FFP) for children in foster care who have mental or physical handicaps who remain in care until age 21?

Answer: Under section 406 (a) of the Social Security Act (the Act) (as in effect on July 16, 1996) a dependent child is defined as one under the age of 18. This age limit applies to title IV-E foster care eligibility under section 472 of the Act. The only exception under section 406 (a) is (at State option) for those children who are over 18 and under the age of 19 and who are full time students expected to complete their secondary schooling or equivalent training before reaching age 19. There is no provision under title IV-E which specifically allows payments on behalf of mentally or physically handicapped children in foster care who are age 18 or older. Therefore, no federal financial participation is available for such payment unless the requirements of 45 CFR 233.90 are met.

On the other hand, title IV-E adoption assistance (at State option) may be continued to age 21 with respect to a child with a mental or physical handicap.

2. Question: Can a youth who was previously title IV-E eligible who has "aged out" of foster care at age 18 retain his/her title IV-E eligibility if he/she re-enters foster care? The youth is under age 19 and expected to graduate from high school before reaching the age of 19.

Answer: No. The State must newly determine the child's title IV-E foster care eligibility once a child ages out of foster care at age 18 and the State no longer has placement and care responsibility. Section 8.3A.10 Q&A2 of the Child Welfare Policy Manual explains that a re-determination of title IV-E eligibility is permitted only when the child is continuously in foster care status and remains under the responsibility of the State agency for placement and care, neither of which is the case as described.

However, a youth at age 18 could retain his/her title IV-E eligibility if s/he provides written authorization for the State's continued placement and care responsibility prior to aging out of foster care, and is a full time student and expected to complete his/her secondary schooling or equivalent training before reaching age 19 consistent with the State's former AFDC plan.