Foster Care Reform Update

POLICY SPOTLIGHT

New Social Security Income Policy Supports Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

As advocates and attorneys working with youth aging out of the foster care system, more can often be done to support their transition by navigating public benefit programs. Many of these youth are living with disabilities that may qualify them for the Supplemental Security Income (SSI). SSI, “is a federal needs-based program for children and adults with limited income and resources who are disabled, blind, or age 65 or older, is often available to youth who have aged out of foster care.” But still many youth age out of the system not aware of this vital cash assistance they can receive. However, a new change has eased access for this population.

The Social Security Administration has implemented a new one-year pilot program, beginning on August 1, 2016,  to help youth transitioning out of care by allowing them to apply for SSI up to six months before their discharge date. They can apply at any age. This allows youth to get a disability determination even when they might not yet meet the income requirements due to foster care payments.

This new toolkit from the Juvenile Law Center details ways to support youth aging out of foster care in applying for SSI. View the full toolkit here, but some highlights from the toolkit to help clients apply, include:

  • Encouraging clients to apply early – foster youth can now apply up to 6 months before they leave foster care
  • Helping to ensure your client is getting needed treatments and has up-to-date evaluations – this is very relevant to their eligibility determination
  • Simplifying and speeding up the eligibility determination process by submitting the application with copies of your client’s medical and school records
  • Calling SSA to schedule an application interview at 1-800-772-1213

This helpful toolkit also includes the timeline for applying, a sample demand letter (when you believe your client has received an inappropriate denial), application methods, and additional resources. In addition to information on SSI benefits, Nebraska CASA has provided resource information for youth aging out of foster care, which can be found here.

COURT OPINIONS

In re Interest of Darius A., No. A-15-773
Decided July 19, 2016

The Nebraska Court of Appeals affirmed an order from the juvenile court which found a child to be within the meaning of Neb. Rev. Stat. § 43-247(3)(a) as to both of his parents. In this case, a child with multiple medical conditions was given a medication regimen by his primary care physician. However, the mother was concerned about the regimen and deviated from the physician’s orders by altering the dosage of medication administered without approval from or notification to the physician. Due to the child’s medical issues he suffered from ongoing seizures and it was speculated that the mother’s deviation from the physician’s plan exacerbated the problem. Further, the child accumulated 60 absences from school during the 2014-2015 school year. The child missed all but two days of school during the month of October 2014. The mother was concerned about the school’s ability to care for the child if and when he had a seizure and the way the school handled his behavioral issues. The juvenile court found that the child was within the meaning of § 43-247(3)(a) because the mother neglected or refused to provide the child with necessary health and educational care and that both parents neglected the child’s educational needs. The Court of Appeals concluded that the State had shown, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the child was at risk for harm because there were multiple instances where the mother did not administer medication in accordance with the physician’s orders and the deviation in dosage placed the child at risk for harm. In regards to the child’s educational needs, the parents argued that the school was not adequately prepared to handle the child if a seizure occurred, that the child was being punished and isolated for his pre-seizure behavioral issues, and that his absences from school were not detrimental to his development. However, the Court of Appeals determined that the evidence relied upon by the juvenile court indicated that the school did have plans in place to support the child’s medical and educational needs, the school did not punish or isolate the child because of his behavior, that the child was never left alone, and when the child did attend school regularly he made great educational and social improvements. Accordingly, the Court of Appeals concluded that the juvenile court did not err in finding the child was within the meaning of § 43-247(3)(a) due to the faults or habits of the parents. Read the full opinion here.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIONS

FEDERAL LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

In June, the U.S. House of Representatives quickly passed the bipartisan Family First Prevention Services Act. The FFA would make a number of changes to the federal funding of foster care to disincentivize unnecessary “non-family” placements for children in the foster care system and to increase the availability of funding to prevent families from entering the foster care system in the first place. Tell Nebraska’s U.S. Senators the Senate must pass the FFPSA without delay when senators return from summer recess.

NEBRASKA INTERIM STUDIES

LR 513 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine workforce issues within the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 514 (Sen. Bolz) – Interim study to examine the availability of transition services for youth who will leave or have left the juvenile justice system while in an out-of-home placement.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 523 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine Nebraska law regarding the protection of children who have reached eighteen years of age but have not yet reached the age of majority.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 529 (Sen. Howard) – Interim study to examine the ongoing implementation of the federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 and related state law and policy.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 544 (Sen. Crawford) – Interim study to examine the alternative response demonstration projects created in LB 853, 2014.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 545 (Sen. Campbell) – Interim study to examine medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, with an emphasis on children that are eligible but unenrolled in these programs.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 551 (Sen. Krist) – Interim study to explore and assess the use of congregate care in Nebraska for youth in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

  • Last action – Referred to Health and Human Services Committee

 

LR 561 (Sen. Krist) – Interim study to examine the effectiveness, economic stability, and long-term viability of the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Kearney and the Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center in Geneva.

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

LR 576 (Sen. Pansing Brooks) – Interim study to examine children’s access to legal counsel in juvenile proceedings across the state of Nebraska.

  • Last action – Referred to Judiciary Committee

 

Click here to see a chart of the introduced child welfare and juvenile justice interim studies.

Click here to see a chart of final actions on all child welfare and juvenile justice bills tracked this session by Nebraska Appleseed and our friends at Voices for Children in Nebraska.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

CLE Webinar: The ACA and Women’s Health Care Coverage

This webinar on October 11, 2016 at 12:00PM CST, will provide an overview of the ways the Affordable Care Act (ACA) impacts health care coverage for women. The presentation will focus on how the ACA changes rate setting practices, the type of coverage that must be offered, and anti-discrimination protections. Registration for this free CLE webinar will be provided in next month’s Foster Care Reform Update.

Appleseed Blog

Appleseed maintains a blog where you can read daily updates about our work to positively impact low-income families, immigrants, children in foster care, and access to health care.  Stop by and check it out!  Read, comment, and share your own stories with us at: http://www.neappleseed.org/blog

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *