background shadows
  • Section II B: Initial Response

400: Who May Receive Services

403: Services to Adolescents Ages 18 to 21

  • Section II D: Foster Care Services
    •   700: Independent Living
    • 1000:  Services to Children in Resource Home Placement
      • 1010 Adolescent Services toward Self-Sufficiency
    • 1000: DCP&P Authority to Issue Consent
      • 1205 Procedures Related to Consent for Enlistment in the Armed Forces

Purpose  403.1

This policy applies to adolescents under DCP&P supervision age 18 to 21 years old living at home or in an out-of-home placement.  Our goal is to successfully transition adolescents to independence and self-sufficiency.


Authority   403.2

• N.J.S.A. 9:17B-3 (defines person age 18 or older, as an adult)

• N.J.S.A. 30:4C-2.3 (gives DCF authority to provide services to youth age 18-21)

• Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006


Definition of Terms   403.3

• Adolescent means a person between the ages of 18 and 21.

• Age of Majority means the age at which a child becomes an adult in the eyes of the law.  In New Jersey the age of majority is age 18.


Actions When an Adolescent Turns 18 Years of Age   403.4

When an adolescent attains the age of 18, the decision to keep the case open, or to the close the case, is determined on an individual, case-by-case basis.

The expectation is that staff will actively engage the adolescent in planning for his or her future, including continued involvement with DCP&P.  A case may continue to be open and a youth can receive services up to the age of 21.

 It is not DCP&P policy to automatically close a case based solely on an adolescent turning 18 years of age, the age of majority.


Criteria for Continuing Services   403.5     

DCF provides services to adolescents who meet at least one of the following requirements:

    • The adolescent received services from DCF at age 16 or older.
    • The adolescent is in a DCP&P supervised or funded out-of-home placement and agrees to accept continued case management services from DCP&P, including continued board payments.  This includes adolescents in foster care or independent living settings.
    • The Worker and Supervisor, as part of an assessment that actively engages the adolescent, conclude that continuation of services is in the adolescent's best interest.  For example, it is determined that continued assistance is needed to allow the adolescent to complete high school, attend GED classes, pursue post secondary education or vocational training.
    • There may also be clinical reasons, when it is in the adolescent's best interest, for the case to remain open; for example a severely depressed adolescent may need continued mental health services and support.
    • The adolescent is continuing to work towards the goals outlined in his or her Transitional Plan for Adolescents (DCP&P Form 5-43).
    • An adolescent is fully employed (30 hours per week or more) and earns less than 150% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines for a family of one (2008=$15,600) or needs non-financial DCP&P services.  See II D 2505, Federal Register Poverty Income Guidelines. 

Note: A pregnant adolescent is always entitled to DCP&P services. 

See II K 900, Services to Pregnant Women.


Advance Notification - Continuation of Services   403.6

Six months prior to the adolescent's 18th birthday the Worker engages the youth in a service needs assessment.  Areas assessed include the need for services to achieve the goal of independence and self-sufficiency, education, finances, housing and health care.


The Worker (ideally with the adolescent) contacts significant case collaterals to discuss the adolescent's need for services after age 18.  Depending on the case, these collaterals may include:

• A parent or foster parent, or other "caring adults" involved in   the case plan;

• An agency overseeing the child's residence/living arrangement;

• An agency providing life skills instruction; or

• Other individuals or agencies that are currently providing services, such as a therapist who may be providing counseling services, or a teacher or guidance counselor, if the adolescent is attending school. 


Contacts with these interested parties are documented in the case record.  The Worker sends out a letter to the adolescent, under the Local Office Manager's signature (use DCP&P Form 5-61, Notification: Services May Continue Beyond Age of Majority), to reiterate that DCP&P services may continue until the adolescent turns age 21.


Documentation of Continuation of Services   403.7

For adolescents in out-of-home placement, use DCP&P Form 26-81 a/b, Family Summary/Case Plan/Court Report Out-of-Home, to document the services that will continue beyond the adolescent's 18th birthday. The adolescent signs the plan.


For adolescents in their own home, use DCP&P Form 26-51 a/b, Family Summary/Case Plan/Court Report In-Home, to document the services that will continue beyond the adolescent's 18th birthday. The adolescent signs the plan.


When the adolescent is unable to sign the Case Plan due to a developmental or emotional disability, the adolescent's parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or other person acting in loco parentis may sign for the adolescent.


Placement Reviews   403.8

The Division continues to conduct internal placement reviews for adolescents age 18 and older.  The Child Placement Review Board may continue to review an adolescent's case, if the court indicates that it will retain jurisdiction after the adolescent turns 18 years of age.  See II A 2419.3.


MVR Schedule   403.9

See II A 703.1, Visitation Schedules Between Once Per Week and Monthly.


Board Rate for Adolescents in Resource Homes   403.10

Resource parents continue to receive a standard board rate for adolescents placed in their home who are 18 to 21 years old.  This includes adolescents who are working, and/or going to school.

See II D 2507, Appendices - Level of Care Rate Table; Resource Family Board Rate and Clothing Schedule for Resource Care and Relative Care.

Resource parents are paid on a per-diem basis for adolescents who return to the resource home on a temporary basis during college breaks and dorm closures.


Vacation Board Rate for College Students   403.11

Adolescents, as well a youth age 17 who were in an out-of-home placement prior to  attending college, who leave the resource home to attend school, may require temporary placement in a resource home during school breaks, dorm closures, or for other reasons, such as illness.  The temporary placement is not to exceed 150 calendar days unless approved by the Local Office Manager, in 30-day increments.

The Resource Parent is paid by a K-100 at Level A (base rate) Vacation Home; service Action Code P-398. 

See II D 2507, Appendices - Level of Care Rate Table; Resource Family Board Rate and Clothing Schedule for Resource Care and Relative Care.

Note: The adolescent's case remains in open status, while at college.  Conduct MVRs while the adolescent is on break at the resource home.


Medicaid - Individual Under Age 21     403.12

An adolescent in placement continues to receive Medicaid.

An adolescent is eligible for Medicaid Extension for Young Adults (MEYA), if he or she was in out-of-home placement on or beyond his or her 18th birthday, and the case is closed.  The Worker gives the adolescent the toll free telephone number, 1-888-235-4766, to enroll in MEYA.  See II K 317, Medicaid Extension for Young Adults (MEYA).

An individual under age 21 may be eligible for Medicaid Special through the County Welfare Agency, even though the adolescent is not eligible for Medicaid coverage under TANF.  Financial eligibility for Medicaid Special is established when the income of the adolescent does not exceed the allowance standard for TANF.

For further information about Medicaid Special, contact the county welfare agency, where the adolescent resides.

See II K 905.3a, Medicaid Special.


Reasons to Close the Case of an Adolescent Age 18 – 21   403.13

There are three situations when it is appropriate to consider closing an adolescent’s case:

• Adolescent refuses to cooperate or participate in the case plan or requests that his or her case be closed despite attempts by DCP&P to actively engage the adolescent;

• The adolescent and Worker mutually agree that he or she is no longer in need of services or support from DCP&P;

• Adolescent attains the age of 21.


Note: An adolescent's case cannot be closed if DCP&P has custody or the case is active in DCP&P litigation.


When the adolescent refuses to cooperate or participate with the case plan, the Worker must make every effort to reengage him or her in the planning process.  Discuss with the adolescent the reasons for lack of cooperation.

The Worker contacts others involved in the case plan, e.g., Legal Guardian, parent, resource family, third party agencies, and other caring adults, to explore possible alternatives or revisions to the plan.


Case Closing Practice for Adolescent 18-21  403.14

Regardless of the reason for closing the case, the Worker follows these procedures:

• Provides two month written notification prior to case closing, using DCP&P Form 5-62, Termination of Services to Adolescent Client (see next section);

• Completes DCP&P Form 5-66, Adolescent Case Closing Agreement, with the adolescent;

• Completes DCP&P Form 5-67, Adolescent Case Closing Checklist;

• Prepares the adolescent for termination of DCP&P services;

• Reinforces with the "caring adult" the importance of their role; (see II D 1010)


• When applicable, notifies the caregiver, Life Skills Training and/or Transitional Housing programs, parent, and the Aftercare service provider that DCP&P will be terminating services within two months; 

- The Aftercare agency can provide the adolescent short term case management services after his or her DCP&P case is closed. 

- The Worker refers the adolescent to the Regional Aftercare provider.

• Facilitates referrals to other agencies that may become involved with the adolescent after the case is closed,  such as agencies involved with financial benefits, housing, employment, education, and health care;

• If the adolescent is exiting resource care at or beyond age 18, provides him or her with a copy of the health and education records at no cost, in accordance with the federal Safe and Timely Interstate Placement of Foster Children Act of 2006; and

• Has a face-to-face meeting with the adolescent prior to case closure.  See II A 2900.


Advance Notification - Intent to Terminate      403.15

Worker must send notification to the adolescent and other interested parties ( parents, legal guardian, legal custodian, resource family, and/or other agencies involved in the case)of the intent to terminate two months prior to the termination date via DCP&P Form 5-62.


Policy for Addressing Disagreement with the Decision to Terminate Case   403.16

If the adolescent or his or her advocate disagrees with termination, the agency's actions may be challenged. 

See III A, Formal and Informal Dispute Resolution Policy and Procedures.

DCP&P is committed to providing services to adolescents, age 18 to 21, to assist with a successful transition to independence. DCP&P encourages youth who are 18 or older to remain service-active with DCP&P until they turn age 21. However, when there are no CPS concerns or other legal reasons to keep a service case open, an older youth (age 18 or older) may request that his or her case be closed; DCP&P is required to heed such a request. This is a reversible decision, however, when all of the following are true:

A. The adolescent was receiving services from the Department, on or after his or her 16th birthday;

B. The adolescent has actively requested that services be provided and is now willing to accept services; and

C. Continuation of services would be in the adolescent's best interest and would help the adolescent to become an independent and productive adult. (N.J.S.A. 30:4C-2.3)

Any youth who meets all of the conditions above can request his or her case be re-opened for appropriate services. The State Central Registry, SCR, shall reopen the adolescent's case, based upon his or her request and professed willingness to accept services. The SCR Screener documents the request as a Child Welfare Service (CWS) referral. SCR assigns the referral to the appropriate Local Office for response, an assessment of the adolescent's needs, and the provision of services, as necessary and applicable. The adolescent's case may remain open until his or her 21st birthday.


Relevant Policy for Students in Post Secondary Educational Programs   707.3

Adolescents in Independent Living Placements - Since these adolescents do not have continuous adult supervision, face-to-face contact between the Permanency Worker and the adolescent is required at least once every month.  The Worker is required to visit the adolescent's residence at least once every six (6) months.  See II D 707.3

Adolescents who attend college - The Worker is required to have face to face contact with the adolescent, when he or she returns to the resource home while on a school break.


Identifying Lifelong Connections/Caring Adults   1010.7

The Worker, in collaboration with the adolescent identifies at least one significant adult in the adolescent’s life.  This may be a relative, a teacher or coach, a neighbor, clergy or a member of the child’s house of worship, who will function as an adult advisor to the adolescent, to assist in the development of the Transitional Plan and who will continue to provide guidance to the adolescent after involvement with DCP&P ends.  The caring adult(s) may be the resource parent(s). 


Developing a Transitional Plan   1010.8

The Worker, adolescent, caring adults, family members and others who are interested in the adolescent’s future gather together to develop a strength-based plan using DCP&P Form 5-43.

Transitional Plan for Adolescents, completing or updating it at the Placement Review Conference held every six months, or when a goal has been achieved or a modification is necessary.  See II A 2900, Family Engagement.


The plan explains the responsibilities of each person involved in the development of the plan to assist the adolescent in mastering the identified skill(s).  Use DCP&P Form 22-25 the New Jersey DCP&P SDM Child Strengths and Needs Assessment accessible through the NJ Spirit application.  Obtain the youth’s academic records from his or her current school, to assist those gathered to develop a viable plan.


Objectives of the Transitional Plan   1010.9

This written plan addresses, at a minimum, the adolescent’s:

  • Life goals – which the adolescent selects for him or herself;
  • Career goals – selected by the adolescent and chosen through exploration of information and subsequent referral to appropriate resources, the Worker, independent living, aftercare, transitional living program, or caregiver help the adolescent identify the skills necessary to achieve his or her career goals.
  • Educational goals – give the adolescent information about the New Jersey Foster Care Scholars Program which can provide financial support for post secondary educational and vocational programs.
  • Upon request, the Worker refers the adolescent to other resources for post-secondary educational opportunities.
  •  Permanency goals – the adolescent will attain permanency either through adoption, KLG, reunification with a safe family member, or a lifelong connection to a designated adult.
  • Health Care – give the adolescent information regarding the Medicaid Extension for Youth Adults (MEYA).
  • Acquisition of basic life skills – the adults and the adolescent review the assessment to identify critical areas that should be addressed with formal and/or informal education and training; and
  • Resource identification – the adults identify and review services and programs available through DCF, other state agencies, and additional public and private organizations, to aid the adolescent in achieving his or her stated goals.