The Administration on Children Youth and Families released overarching program instructions last week for the Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008, and this week announced new regulations requiring transition plans for youths aging out of foster care to include new information about the youth’s health care. The health care regulations become effective Oct. 1.
The program instructions for state implementation of the Fostering Connections Act were long-awaited by child welfare practitioners and advocates. They address in particular a number of questions around the two optional aspects of the act: a federally matched guardianship assistance program and a federally matched extension of foster care until age 21.
National child welfare advocates plan to meet later this month to discuss the rules, which include departures from the law itself in the area of eligibility.
The new health regulations require that the transition plans include details about the importance of the youth designating officially a person who can make health decisions on his or her behalf if the youth cannot make them and does not want any relative to make them, and provides the youth with the documents to carry out those wishes. Such situations could arise if the youth is seriously injured in an accident or suffers from a mental impairment.
The regulations also require states and tribes to prepare health oversight plans for youths aging out of foster care, including information about health insurance.
Legislative changes under the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program require states and tribes to advise youths in the program about the need to designate another person who can make health care decisions if the youth is not able to and to help the youth execute a legal document to do so.