State Letter #09-09
Clarification of Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) Eligibility for Chafee (Independent Living) Funds and Education and Training Vouchers (ETV)
TO: STATE REFUGEE COORDINATORS
REFUGEE HEALTH COORDINATORS
NATIONAL VOLUNTARY AGENCIES
OTHER INTERESTED PARTIES
FROM: David Siegel
Office of Refugee Resettlement
SUBJECT: Clarification of Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) Eligibility for Chafee (Independent Living) Funds and Education and Training Vouchers (ETV)
The purpose of this State Letter is to clarify Federal policy regarding Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) eligibility for certain benefits available through the Federal Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (“Chafee”), including the Education and Training Vouchers (ETV).
Parity of service for URMs extends to Chafee and ETV benefits. Federal regulations require a State to “provide unaccompanied minors with the same range of child welfare benefits and services available in foster care cases to other children in the State. Allowable benefits and services may include…services identified in the State’s plans under titles IV-B and IV-E of the Social Security Act…” Case planning for all URMs, including those receiving Chafee/ETV or Independent Living services, must address the cultural elements outlined in regulation, including the preparation of the youth for independent living and economic self-sufficiency in the context of cultural training and social integration.
(1) Are children in the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) program eligible for Chafee-funded services, including education and training vouchers (ETV)?
Answer: A child in the URM program who is either in foster care4 or has been in foster care under the title IV-B/IV-E State agency’s responsibility for placement and care, may be eligible for Chafee-funded services, including the Chafee education and training voucher program. Additional State criteria, which apply to all other Chafee program participants and are specified in the Chafee Foster Care Independence Plan (CFCIP), such as age-specific criteria, would also apply to URMs.
(2) Is a URM whose placement and care is with a private agency eligible for Chafee/ETV?
Answer: A URM youth who has never been in foster care under the placement and care responsibility of the State title IV-B/IV-E agency, but whose placement and care is with a private agency, does not qualify for federally-funded Chafee/ETV benefits; however, private agencies are responsible for assuring that parity of benefits with the State program is being met. In this example, costs of assuring parity may be chargeable to the URM program, provided that those services are part of the URM’s individual case plan or individual service plan.
(3) How does this guidance apply to a county-administered IV-B and/or IV-E program?
Answer: In a State that has a child welfare system that is State supervised but county-administered, the county child welfare agency is still responsible for administering the State IV-B/IV-E plan, so the guidance in this State Letter would also apply to county-administered programs.
(4) Must a State include URMs in the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) even when their care is 100% federally funded?
Answer: The State must include in AFCARS all children in foster care for whom the State title IV-B/IV-E agency has responsibility for placement, care, or supervision, regardless of the source of funds for the child’s foster care payment. Therefore, States should be reporting to AFCARS all URM youth who are in foster care under the responsibility for placement or care of the State title IV-B/IV-E agency.
(5) If a State has not included a URM in AFCARS, is that youth still eligible to access Chafee or ETV funds?
Answer: URM access to Chafee services, including ETV, is not dependent on the State reporting a URM to AFCARS. Therefore, as stated above, any child who has been admitted to the URM program and who is either in foster care, or has been in foster care under the State agency’s responsibility for placement and care, may be eligible for Chafee-funded services , including ETV. As indicated above, any additional State criteria specified in the CFCIP applicable to all other Chafee/ETV participants, such as age-specific criteria, would also apply.
This guidance has been written in coordination with the Administration for Children and Family’s Children’s Bureau.
We hope this information is helpful as you provide needed services and resources to the URM in your care. If you have any questions about information contained in this State Letter, please contact Pamela Green-Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Attachment: URM Eligibility for Chafee/ETV Benefits Flowchart
UNACCOMPANIED REFUGEE MINOR
ELIGIBILITY FOR CHAFEE/ETV BENEFITS
State Letter # 09-#09
November 20, 2008