Child Welfare Policy Manual

December 03, 2016

3.1G  INDEPENDENT LIVING, Certifications and Requirements, Room and Board

1. Question: What is meant by "room and board" as used in section 477(b)(3)(B) of the Social Security Act? Is it intended to cover all cost items included in the title IV-E foster care maintenance payment definition? Would it also include such costs as rental deposits, rent, utilities, and household start-up purchases?

Answer: "Room and board" has no statutory definition, but typically includes shelter and food. These are the most expensive and essential items that youth ages 18-21 may not be able to cover with their own incomes. The term does not include all items covered by the title IV-E foster care maintenance payment definition. States may set a reasonable definition of room and board that may include rent deposits, utilities and other household start-up purchases. In setting the definition, States should be cautioned that the number of items that are covered in the definition of "room and board" may impact the number of youth the State can actually assist.

2. Question: Does the law at 477 (b)(3)(A) and (B) of the Social Security Act (the Act) allow "room and board" payments for youth between 18-21 years of age who are in a higher education situation?

Answer: Yes. The law allows it, but does not mandate it. Section 477(b)(3)(A) and (B) of the Act provide that no more than 30 percent of Federal funds from the allotted amount can be used for room and board for youth 18-21 who have aged out of foster care. States may set criteria for the use of these funds that may or may not include college attendance.

3. Question: Can a State provide Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP) funds to an organization for the purpose of acquiring real property under the statutory provision that permits limited room and board expenditures for former foster care children between the ages of 18 and 21?

Answer: Federal funds are generally unavailable for the acquisition of real property in the absence of express statutory authority and there is no such authority in the CFCIP legislation. Accordingly, neither States themselves nor the organizations they fund may purchase real property with CFCIP funds. Additionally, States may not use purchased property to qualify for the match to CFCIP funds.

  • Source/Date: Questions and Answers on the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 477; 42 Comptroller General 480 (1963)
4. Question: May a State use Chafee funds to provide room and board for youth (between the ages of 18-21) who voluntarily remain in foster care?

Answer: Although the law does not expressly contemplate youth ages 18-21 in foster care, allowing room and board for these youth accords with the statutory purposes identified in sections 477(a)(1-5) of the Act. Therefore, it is permissible to expend Chafee funds for youth between the ages of 18-21 who voluntarily remain in State foster care including room and board services. However, a State may not require youth to remain in foster care over the age 18 in order to receive CFCIP services. The certification at section 477(b)(3)(A) stipulates that the State will serve youth who have left foster care because they have attained 18 years of age. Requiring a youth to remain in foster care to receive services contravenes this certification. The State must also meet the Federal non-supplantation requirement for youth ages 18-21. Federal funds spent for room and board for youth 18-21, both in and out of foster care, are subject to the 30 percent expenditure limitation found at section 477(b)(3)(B).

  • Source/Date: 7/25/02
  • Legal and Related References: Social Security Act - section 477