by Josh Bryant
Under current State law, foster children stop receiving benefits on their 18th birthday, unless they are a full-time student, up until the age of 21. However, North Carolina legislators have been working to extend the age limit for foster care benefits from 18 to 21 under a wider swath of requirements that will undoubtedly benefit thousands who are currently cared for in the Foster Care Program.
In order to receive foster care benefits until the age of 21, under the current law a child must be a full-time student. With the passage of NC Senate Bill 424, effective August 1, 2016, under Section 1 a foster child may fulfill one of following five requirements and remain eligible to receive benefits until 21:
- completing high school or a GED,
- being enrolled in a college or a vocational program,
- participating in an employment program,
- being employed for at least 80 hours per month,
- or, incapable of completing one of these requirements due to a medical condition or disability.
Additionally, “Fostering Success” also expands the ability of foster parents and children to succeed in life by allowing more “wiggle room” for decisions to be made on part of the child. For example, under the proposed law, a foster child who is a full-time student over age 18 may now be approved to live outside a foster care facility in a college dormitory or a partially-supervised residential agreement. Furthermore, the Bill will make it easier for foster children who are eligible for guardianship but are unlikely to find a permanent residence in the formation of the Guardianship Assistance Program or GAP.
In summary, “Fostering Success” lends a hand to individuals who are otherwise deemed an adult the necessary assistance they need to supplement their life without having to endure additional hardship in order to receive such help.
Funding for the bill has been set aside for implementation in the coming year and will be fully implemented August 1, 2016.
Josh ([email protected]) is a staff Auditor with Langdon & Company, LLP. He works on a variety of clients in the non-profit sector. Please contact our office if we can help your organization better understand the latest legislation and how it affects your constituents.