Extended Foster Care Eligibility Update

May 4, 2021
Youth gather for a selfie while wearing face masks.

One of the populations hit hardest by the pandemic's economic and social fallout is young adults, particularly those who don't have the extensive family support networks that many of us and our children do. Youth and young adults in foster care are prime examples. Many of the jobs they would go into in retail, food service, or other in-person customer service jobs suddenly ceased to exist. The community college or high school they were attending suddenly ceased to provide in-person instruction, or even worse, just shut down.

Gov. Jay Inslee, the Legislature, Congress, and the new Biden administration have put some resources into ensuring that these young people don't fall through the cracks and wind up in a worse place than they are now. Just like the moratoriums on evictions, the Children's Bureau and the Legislature made it so that young people in Extended Foster Care (EFC) don't become homeless through no fault of their own.

In January, Gov. Inslee signed Proclamation 21-02: Extended Eligibility for Foster Care Services, which extended eligibility for foster care services to those who have turned or will turn 21 years old during the COVID-19 pandemic. The proclamation ensures that DCYF can follow the federal regulations (listed as Division X) in the new federal stimulus bill.

DCYF intends to remove all barriers allowed under this law to encourage youth to remain as participants in the EFC program

Youth who turn 21 remain eligible for EFC until at least Sept. 30, 2021. If youth left EFC because they aged out during the pandemic (between Jan. 27, 2020, to present), they can re-enter EFC regardless of whether they are in school or employed. 

Youth are only required to meet basic criteria during the pandemic as required under federal law. Youth are not required to engage in any school, work, or have a medical condition to be eligible for this program during the pandemic. Participation requirements are limited to the following:

  • Youth must agree to participate in the program as expressed in the written EFC Agreement per WAC 110-90-0190.
  • Youth must participate in the case plan, such as working on stated goals and making progress on them.
  • Youth must allow DCYF to access certain records.
  • Youth must remain in an approved foster care placement.
  • Youth must meet with their caseworker for monthly health and safety visits.

For any youth ineligible to re-enroll, we will make every effort to connect them to services and support to ensure they can be safely and stably housed.

If you have questions about EFC or what resources are available to young people in this situation, please contact dcyf.adolescentprograms@dcyf.wa.gov.