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10300 Post-Secondary Education Programs

10310 College Tuition and Fee Exemption Information

CPS October 2017

The college tuition and fee exemption program is a state law that exempts payment of tuition and fees at state supported colleges or universities for eligible foster youth currently or formerly in DFPS conservatorship and for those adopted from DFPS.

Texas Education Code §§54.366 and 54.367

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.1630

The caseworker and PAL staff must inform youth, young adults and child care providers, if applicable, about the college tuition and fee exemption and its purpose.

Each state supported higher education institution is responsible for granting the College Tuition and Fee exemption, and each school has its own appeals processes that the student must follow if the student is denied a tuition and fee exemption.

Refer to the College Tuition and Fee Waiver page for more information about the College Tuition Exemption, including eligibility criteria.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see also College Tuition and Fee Exemption.

10311 Issuing the College Tuition and Fee Exemption Letter

CPS October 2017

Designated CPS staff issues the college tuition and fee exemption letter to the student. The student submits the letter to the school the student attends, as part of the school’s application process. While CPS staff issues the letter, the school decides whether to grant the tuition and fee exemption.

CPS state staff, regional PAL staff, adoption assistance eligibility staff, the CPS regional program director, or CPS program administrator must use IMPACT information to determine whether DFPS can issue the tuition and fee exemption letter. Once designated staff determines that the youth or young adult can receive the letter, the designated staff must:

  •   complete and sign Form 1003 DFPS Verification of the State College Tuition and Fee Waiver; and

  •   document in IMPACT that the form was provided to the youth or young adult.

PAL staff or the adoption eligibility specialists must provide the youth or young adult with the completed and signed Form 1003.

As part of a youth’s transition planning, the caseworker must inform the youth of the college exemption before the youth ages out of foster care. A young adult may receive more than one tuition exemption letter if she or he is changing schools or if the school requests a new letter each academic year.

10311.1 PAL Staff Responsibilities for College Tuition and Fee Exemption

CPS October 2017

The regional PAL staff must research and determine if the college tuition and fee exemption letter can be issued to the youth based on the following criteria:

  •   the youth, while in DFPS’s conservatorship, is taking a dual credit course or other course for which a high school student may earn joint high school and college credit; or

  •   the youth was in DFPS conservatorship:

  •   on the day preceding his or her 18th birthday;

  •   on or after the student’s 14th birthday, and the student was eligible for adoption on or after that day;

  •   on the day the student graduated from high school or received the equivalent of a high school diploma;

  •   on the day permanent managing conservatorship of the student was granted to an individual other than the student’s parent, if that date is on or after September 1, 2009;

  •   at age 14 or older on or after June 1, 2016, and subsequently exited DFPS’s permanent managing conservatorship to a parent’s legal responsibility (a parent means a biological parent, an adoptive parent, or a parent whose parental rights have been terminated); or

  •   at age 16 or older on or after June 1, 2016, and subsequently exited DFPS’s temporary managing conservatorship to a parent’s legal responsibility (a parent means a biological parent, an adoptive parent, or a parent whose parental rights have been terminated).

Texas Education Code §54.366

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC, §700.1630

For certain youth who return to a parent’s legal responsibility, PAL staff must check Legal Actions or Legal Status in IMPACT, or must make a request to the caseworker, to review the court order to see if the case was dismissed with legal authority to a parent.

In addition, PAL staff must:

  •   prepare the letter for signature;

  •   track the number of tuition fee exemptions issued each year for eligible youth; and

  •   enter information into IMPACT in the PAL stage under PAL Services when a signed college tuition and fee exemption letter is issued to eligible youth.

10311.2 Adoption Assistance Eligibility Specialist Responsibilities for College Tuition and Fee Exemption

CPS October 2017

Adoption assistance eligibility specialists must research and determine whether the college tuition and fee exemption letter can be issued to youth based on the following criteria:

The youth was:

  •   adopted before September 1, 2009 and has an adoption assistance agreement that provides for both a monthly payment and Medicaid benefits; or

  •   adopted on or after September 1, 2009.

Adoption assistance eligibility specialists must prepare the letter for signature.

The regional director or program administrator must sign the tuition letters. Designated staff must issue the letter, file a copy and record in the youth’s file that they issued the letter.

For further information see Form 1003, College Tuition and Waiver Letter.

10312 Temporary Housing Assistance Between Academic Terms

CPS October 2017

Texas’s public higher education institutions are required to assist young adults formerly in DFPS conservatorship in locating temporary housing between higher education academic terms (such as summer and holiday breaks).

PAL staff may provide information about college housing assistance, and how to inquire about housing assistance, to youth at least 90 days before the youth leaves care. PAL staff may also provide this information:

  •   if PAL staff attends a youth’s Circles of Support or Transition Planning Meetings; and

  •   in the Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) life skills training classes.

Texas Education Code §51.978

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see Temporary Housing Assistance Between Academic Terms for more information.

10320 Overview of the Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program

CPS October 2017

The federal Chafee Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, which DFPS administers, provides financial assistance to youth and young adults in post-secondary and vocational or technical programs. Eligible youth or young adults may receive up to $5,000 per year.

The ETV program is federally funded, and all federal law and policy must be followed.

42 U.S.C. §677

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.1613

10321 Goal of the ETV Program

CPS October 2017

The goal of the ETV program is to help eligible foster care students pay for education related expenses and provide needed supports to meet their educational goal while attending a public, private or non-profit college, technical college or certificate program.

Refer to the DFPS Education and Training Voucher (ETV) page for ETV eligibility criteria.

Interested youth and young adults can apply to the ETV program on the BCFS Texas Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program website.

Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) staff or other designated CPS staff must:

  •   inform eligible youth about the ETV program, eligibility requirements and administration procedures; and

  •   verify eligibility for the ETV program.

10322 Staff Responsible for the ETV Program

CPS October 2017

Who Can Verify Eligibility

The following persons verify a youth’s eligibility for the ETV program by completing and signing Form 1016:

  •   Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) staff

  •   Transitional Living Services staff

  •   Adoption assistance eligibility staff

  •   CPS Federal/State Support staff

  •   The youth’s tribal representatives, if appropriate

Tribal Students

A tribal representative must verify eligibility for tribal students. A student may be eligible for the ETV program if:

  •   the student’s tribe chooses to participate in the ETV program; and

  •   the student meets all ETV requirements and meets any tribal requirements for the ETV program.

Assistance With the ETV Application

Upon the student’s request, the following persons may assist the student in completing an ETV application and collecting supporting documents to submit with the application:

  •   The caseworker

  •   Other CPS staff

  •   Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) staff

  •   PAL contractors

  •   ETV staff

Students who were adopted after age 16 may receive assistance from Transitional Living Services staff.

To promote independence, staff must encourage students to complete the ETV application themselves as much as possible.

10323 Verifying Eligibility

CPS October 2017

Staff listed in 10322 Staff Responsible for the ETV Program must verify that the student is informed of and meets ETV general eligibility and citizenship status requirements indicated on Form 1016.

Once the student qualifies for ETV, ETV staff must verify the following ongoing program requirements:

  •   scholastic eligibility;

  •   eligibility for young adults age 21 until age 23;

  •   satisfactory academic progress (SAP) for students 21 and older;

  •   minimum credit hours;

  •   financial aid probation or warnings; and

  •   eligibility when moving to another state.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Eligibility.

10323.1 Citizenship and Immigration

CPS October 2017

Staff listed in 10322 Staff Responsible for the ETV Program must verify a student’s citizenship and immigration status on Form 1016 if the student is still in DFPS conservatorship. Students must also show proof of U.S. citizenship or qualified alien status when applying for the ETV program.

According to federal law, undocumented students are not eligible for the ETV program. A student that attains lawful permanent resident status, or another qualified alien status as defined by 8 U.S.C. §1641, may apply for the ETV program, if he or she is under age 21 and otherwise qualifies for the ETV program.

If the student has another status besides lawful permanent resident, the caseworker must consult with the regional attorney to determine if the status is a qualified alien status.

If a student is in foster care, the caseworker or Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) staff must check IMPACT to determine a student’s citizenship or immigration status.

If a student applies for lawful permanent resident status while in DFPS foster care, but is granted that status after leaving foster care, CPS staff must verify documentation showing that the student is a lawful permanent resident.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Eligibility for the ETV Program Based on Citizenship and Immigration.

10323.2 Appropriate Schools and Courses

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must ensure that students understand the types of schools they can attend using ETV funds.

ETV staff must ensure that students understand ETV funds cannot be awarded for a correspondence course, distance education course, or continuing education course if those courses are not part of the student’s academic degree or certificate program.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Schools That Students Must Attend to Qualify for the ETV Program.

10324 Applying for the ETV Program

CPS October 2017

Completing the FAFSA

Designated CPS staff must inform the student that, before applying to the ETV program, the student must submit a Free Application for Federal Assistance (FAFSA) to determine which federal student aid programs the student may be eligible for. Students must submit a renewal FAFSA each year that they enroll in school.

Designated CPS staff must inform the student that he or she is not required to submit a FAFSA, if the student is enrolled in a dual-credit college course at an institution of higher education for which the student will earn both a high school diploma and college credit.

Applying to the ETV Program

Designated CPS staff must inform eligible students that they must apply or re-apply for the ETV program through the website for the Texas Education and Training Voucher (ETV) program, and submit supporting documents when applying.

The designated CPS staff must sign Form 1016 DFPS Verification of ETV Eligibility and provide a copy to the student (see 10322 Staff Responsible for the ETV Program). The designated CPS staff must also provide the student with a signed copy of Form 1003 College Tuition and Fee Waiver Letter, when applicable, to ensure that ETV funds are not used to pay for tuition at state supported colleges and universities.

Student Documentation

While students are responsible for completing and submitting required documents, designated CPS staff must ensure that students are informed of the following types of documents they are required to submit:

  •   Documents supporting the application

  •   Documents required after approval

  •   The payment form

  •   A budget worksheet

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Applying for the ETV Program for information on required documents.

10325 Continued Eligibility Requirements After Initial ETV Qualification

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must inform the student that she or he must provide the following documents necessary to continue ETV eligibility:

  •   an updated application (each academic year, or when a student changes schools);

  •   the class schedule for the current semester or academic term;

  •   an end-of-semester update on the student’s current academic status, used for students age 21 or older to document that the student is meeting the school’s policy on satisfactory academic progress (SAP), and used for students younger than age 21 to inform ETV staff if the student has been placed on financial aid probation or given a financial aid warning;

  •   verification from the school showing the student’s number of credit hours earned and the student’s classification (such as junior or senior);

  •   a current budget worksheet for each school term; and

  •   a completed payment form and supporting documents, if applicable.

ETV staff must ensure that students are informed of how the student’s ETV eligibility may be affected by:

  •   receiving financial aid probation or a warning; and

  •   dropping out of school or being placed on academic suspension.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Continued Eligibility Requirements After Initial ETV Qualification.

10326 Determining and Disbursing ETV Funds

10326.1 Cost of Attendance and ETV Funds

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must award ETV funds that cover only what is determined by the school’s cost of attendance (COA), which is the estimated cost of a student’s educational expenses for the period of enrollment as determined by the school the student is attending.

42 USC 677(i)(4)

ETV staff must not award ETV funds if a student’s other funding sources cover the COA. If the other funding sources do not fully cover the student’s COA, ETV funds are then awarded to pay for any remaining expenses, up to $5,000 per year.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Determining and Disbursing ETV Funds for information on cost of attendance.

PAL Program Funds

ETV staff must not use the funds a student may receive from the PAL program, such as Aftercare Room and Board funds and the PAL Transitional Living Allowance, to determine the amount of the ETV grant.

ETV staff must use ETV funds before PAL funds can be used, if the student is eligible and PAL funds are available.

10326.2 Disbursing ETV Funds

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must divide the ETV amount that the student receives by the number of school terms that the student will be attending for the next 12 months, as indicated by the student on the ETV application or re-application.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Determining and Disbursing ETV Funds.

Students Who Turn 23

A student may remain eligible for the program until he or she turns age 23.

If a student turns age 23 during a college semester or a vocational school term, ETV staff must prorate any school-related cost that spans the full semester or term, such as the costs of tuition or room and board.

ETV staff must not prorate expense items included in the COA that are purchased and used before the student turns age 23, such as books and supplies. DFPS considers these items a one-time purchase.

10326.3 When Students Are Paid ETV Funds

CPS October 2017

First and Second Academic Year

For the first and second academic year of college or technical school, ETV must pay a student’s basic living expenses directly to vendors and landlords, and pay the balance to the student.

Third and Fourth Semester Year or Age 21 and Older

Students may be eligible to receive their ETV grant directly each term, to pay for the cost of attendance on their own, if they:

  •   have completed at least two academic years of school;

  •   have completed a vocational or technical certificate program or school term; or

  •   are age 21 or older

ETV staff may evaluate a student’s level of fiscal responsibility, before issuing ETV funds directly to the student.

10327 Expenses Covered by ETV

10327.1 Expenses Covered by the Costs of Attendance (COA)

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must inform students that DFPS pays certain expenses using ETV funds, as long as the expenses:

  •   are included in the costs of attendance (COA) set by the student’s school; and

  •   are reasonable (that is, they are closely aligned with the specific cost of the item or service that is in the school’s COA policy).

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program –Expenses Covered by ETV for a list of these expenses.

Transportation Costs

ETV staff must inform students that:

  •   ETV funds may be used to pay for reasonable transportation expenses, as defined by the student’s school;

  •   ETV staff may limit the amount that a student may spend on certain operation or maintenance costs for a vehicle the student already owns, and may request additional information or documentation from the student or the school before allowing the expense to be covered; and

  •   students may not use ETV funds to buy a vehicle, as funds are to be used for COA.

In the Transitional Living Services Resource Guide see The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program – Expenses Covered by ETV.

10327.2 Expenses Not Covered by the Costs of Attendance (COA)

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must inform the student that:

  •   certain costs not included in a school’s initial costs of attendance (COA), such as the cost to buy specialized software needed for an engineering class, will need an adjustment of the COA for the added expense;

  •   students may contact the school’s financial aid office to discuss having the COA adjusted to reflect any additional expenses that were not previously covered at the time of enrollment; and

  •   if a school approves an increase in the COA and if the full amount of the ETV ($5,000) was not initially awarded at the time of enrollment, the student may request that ETV staff adjust the COA; however, the school must provide the student with written justification for an increase in the COA or provide a new financial aid letter reflecting the revised COA.

10327.3 Expenses of Students in DFPS Paid Foster Care

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must inform students in DFPS paid foster care that they are eligible for the ETV program but may not use ETV funds to cover basic living expenses such as housing, utilities, food, or personal items. ETV funds may be used only for:

  •   tuition and fees (if not already covered by the state college tuition and fee exemption);

  •   books, computers, supplies, tools, uniforms, specialized software; and

  •   other allowable expenses included in the cost of attendance that are not covered under extended foster care.

10328 The Right to Appeal ETV Decisions

CPS October 2017

ETV staff must inform students that:

  •   a student may appeal a denial of participation in the ETV program or a suspension or termination of the funding;

  •   the student must file the appeal in writing with the ETV program specialist at the CPS state office within 90 days from the denial date. The appeal must explain why the student believes that the denial to participate in the program or the suspension or termination of the funding is wrong; and

  •   the student may represent himself or herself or may ask another person who is not a CPS employee to provide representation.

DFPS Rules, 40 TAC §700.1625

10330 Employment Preference for Former Foster Youth

CPS October 2017

State agencies are required to give employment preference to a former foster youth who was in DFPS permanent managing conservatorship on the day before his or her 18th birthday, if other applicants for the same position do not have a greater qualification. The employment preference ends the day before the young adult turns age 26.

Texas Government Code, Chapter 672

Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) staff must provide:

  •   employment preference letter Form 1013 to eligible young adults when they are reach age 18 and as requested by the young adult after the 18th birthday The CPS regional director or the CPS program administrator must sign the preference letter before it is provided to the young adult;

  •   information to youth and young adults about the employment preference at Circle of Support meetings, Transition Planning meetings and other transitioning youth events; and

  •   information about the employment preference to PAL contract providers, transition centers, and others known to be working with transitioning youth and young adults.

10340 Preparation for Long-Term Care or Support in Adulthood for Youth with Disabilities

10341 Planning for Long-Term Care Needs

CPS October 2017

Assessing the Youth’s Long-Term Care Needs

DFPS managing conservatorship ends when a child turns age 18. When a youth in DFPS’s managing conservatorship needs long-term care or support in adulthood as the result of an incapacitating disability, the youth’s caseworker must begin assessing the youth’s needs and preferences and planning the type of care, services and supervision the youth will receive upon leaving DFPS conservatorship.

This process begins whenever such a youth enters care, but needs special attention once the youth turns age 16.

The regional developmental disability specialist (DDS) must be included throughout this process if the youth has an intellectual and/or developmental disability.

Planning for Long-Term Care

When addressing long term care placement needs, the caseworker must review the youth’s case file to determine if:

  •   there are appropriate family or kinship placement options at this point in the youth’s life;

  •   there are resources and services available, such as intellectual and developmental disability services and supports;

  •   the family or relatives are interested in learning to care for the aging-out youth; and

  •   the family or relatives are interested in providing ongoing support to the youth.

The caseworker must consult with the assigned developmental disability specialist for the youth with disabilities who is aging out of DFPS care to review:

  •   the youth’s potential options; and

  •   other intellectual or developmental disability resources in the community that can assist with placement or support options.

See 10341.1 Researching Long-Term Care Resources.

Documenting

In each transition plan and service plan developed after the youth’s 16th birthday the caseworker must document the transition plans necessary to provide long-term care or support for the youth in adulthood, and the steps taken to make the transition.

The supervisor must use Form 2557b Transitional Living Services for Youth 14-21 (Checklist) to track the youth’s case.

See the HCS Resource Guide.

10341.1 Researching Long-Term Care Resources

CPS October 2017

Contacting Regional Staff

The caseworker must consult with appropriate regional staff who are knowledgeable about placement and service options that would benefit the youth. These include:

  •   the assigned developmental disability specialist or the state office developmental disability specialist;

  •   the regional placement staff;

  •   HHSC guardianship staff; and

  •   the regional PAL staff.

Extended Foster Care may be an option up until the youth turns age 22. If DFPS chooses this option, DFPS must make arrangements to make payments for Extended Foster Care before the youth’s 18th birthday. For details, see:

1543.1 Youth Age 18 or Older in Voluntary Extended Foster Care: Signing Over SSI and RSDI Benefits

10400 Extended Foster Care for Youth Who Are Age 18 or Older

Contacting Other Agencies

The caseworker must coordinate with the developmental disabilities specialist to research resources at other appropriate agencies and explore options for placement, services, or information that could benefit the youth. These agencies include:

  •   Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS);

  •   Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC);

  •   Texas Workforce Commission (TWC);

  •   Texas Education Agency (TEA);

  •   Texas Department of Housing and Consumer Affairs (TDHCA); and

  •   Texas Council on Developmental Disabilities.

In the Preparation for Long Term Care and Support Resource Guide see Other Resources for additional resources.

10341.2 Ensuring Funding and Eligibility for Services

CPS October 2017

DFPS pursues Supplemental Security Income (SSI) eligibility, through the Social Security Administration (SSA), for youth before the youth ages out of care at age 18, regardless of the youth’s eligibility for Title IV-E assistance. By establishing SSI disability benefits for youth before their 18th birthday, DFPS ensures that youth will have monthly SSI benefits and Medicaid to support their transition out of foster care.

Supplemental Security Income

When a Youth Turns 17

When a youth turns 17, has a significant disability and, as an adult will require long-term care services or will be appointed a legal guardian, the caseworker must notify the SSI coordinator to determine whether the youth receives SSI.

If the youth is not already receiving SSI, the SSI coordinator applies for SSI benefits on behalf of the youth. The coordinator sends the caseworker an SSI application and asks the caseworker to gather supporting documentation related to the youth’s medical condition.

The caseworker must complete the application and return it to the SSI coordinator with all supporting documentation. The coordinator submits the application and supporting documentation to SSA. When applicable, the SSI coordinator asks the foster care eligibility specialist to change the youth’s Title IV-E eligibility to State-paid assistance, effective the first day of the month in which the coordinator submits the SSI application to SSA.

Once the youth’s SSI eligibility is established with the SSA, no further action is needed by DFPS. SSA will schedule an adult eligibility determination within the two years after the youth’s eighteenth birthday. During that time, the youth continues to receive children’s SSI until an adult determination is made.

Medicaid Long-Term Care Waivers

DFPS must place a youth with disabilities on the appropriate interest list for a Medicaid long-term care waiver when the youth comes into care, or as early as possible. The caseworker must contact his or her regional developmental disability specialist for assistance.

Funding and Eligibility for Services

Funding and eligibility for services are covered in greater detail in the items listed below. See:

1570 Supplemental Security Income (SSI) for Children in Foster Care

1543 Payment for Long-Term Care in Adulthood

10500 Trial Independence and Return for Extended Foster Care

10342 Home and Community-Based Services (HCS)

CPS October 2017

Home and Community-Based Services (HCS) is a Medicaid long-term care waiver for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. It provides community-based medical and non-medical supports and services over an individual’s lifetime.

Individuals gain access to the HCS waiver program through the HCS interest list or by being a member of one of the several targeted groups identified by the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC). Children and youth in DFPS conservatorship are one of the identified targeted groups.

The caseworker must contact the regional developmental disability specialist (DDS) for guidance on determining the child’s eligibility and appropriateness for an HCS waiver.

See the HCS Resource Guide for information on HCS eligibility.

See:

4118.2 Home and Community-Based Services (HCS)

6411.2 Frequency of Face-to-Face Visits

10343 Guardianship

10343.1 Preparing to Request Appointment of a Guardian

CPS October 2017

Need for a Guardian

A youth may need a guardian if the youth has an intellectual or developmental disability or physical disability that will substantially limit the youth’s ability to develop independent living skills. These skills include the ability to:

  •   provide food, clothing, and shelter for themselves;

  •   care for their physical health; or

  •   manage their financial affairs.

Estates Code §1002.017(2)

The caseworker must discuss the possible need for a guardian in the youth’s service plans, permanency meetings, Circles of Support, Transition Planning, and court reviews.

In the Preparation for Long-Term Care or Support in Adulthood for Youth with Disabilities Resource Guide see Guardianship.

Search for a Guardian

The youth’s caseworker must begin searching for a guardian no later than the youth’s 16th birthday or when DFPS receives conservatorship, if the youth is age 16 or older.

The caseworker must consult with the supervisor and the developmental disability specialist (DDS) to discuss making a referral to the HHSC Office of Guardianship before the youth’s 17th birthday.

The caseworker must consider family members and friends for guardians before considering a guardianship program such as HHSC. See the Guardianship Services Handbook, 2430 Alternate Guardians.

If a foster parent wants to become the guardian, in the Preparation for Long-Term Care or Support in Adulthood for Youth with Disabilities Resource Guide see Foster Parent Wishes to Be a Guardian.

If it appears that the youth will need a guardian, the caseworker must:

  •   invite the guardianship supervisor or designated guardianship specialist (GS) to attend the youth’s Transition Plan Meeting, or Circles of Support (a meeting to review the youth’s needs and progress using Family Group Decision-Making principles);

  •   continue to look for the least restrictive alternatives to guardianship and alternative guardians to a HHSC guardianship;

  •   consult with the DDS on appropriateness of and alternatives to HHSC guardianship;

  •   begin gathering information and filling out the guardianship referral form for Aging Out of Care (AOC) Youth in IMPACT, if a referral for a HHSC guardianship continues to appear likely;

  •   obtain a certified copy of the legal court order for permanent managing conservatorship (PMC) if, during the year, an HHSC guardianship referral continues to appear likely; and

  •   request assistance from the DDS to obtain a Determination of Intellectual Disability (DID), or an update, if the youth is diagnosed with an intellectual disability. The goal is to have the DID completed by the time the youth turns age 17. The Probate Code requires that the DID be issued or an endorsement issued within two years of applying for guardianship of an adult.

10343.2 Criteria for HHSC Guardianship Referral

CPS October 2017

The HHSC Office of Guardianship is the state’s guardianship program.

DFPS must refer a youth in DFPS conservatorship, who is 16 years of age or older and aging out of care (AOC), to the HHSC Office of Guardianship for assessment if:

  •   there is reason to believe that because of a physical or mental condition, the youth will be substantially unable to provide for his or her own food, clothing or shelter;

  •   the youth will be unable to provide for his or her own physical health;

  •   the youth will be unable to manage his or her own financial affairs when the individual becomes an adult;

  •   there is a source of funding;

  •   less restrictive alternatives to guardianship are not appropriate or available; and

  •   no suitable family members or other interested parties are willing or able to serve as guardian.

The supervisor, caseworker, or developmental disability specialist (DDS) may contact the HHSC guardianship supervisor to request information for a youth who is age 16 or older and for whom a formal referral has not yet been made.

The supervisor must use Form 2557b Transitional Living Services for Youth 14 – 21 (Checklist) to track the youth’s case.

Human Resources Code §48.209(a)

10343.3 Initiating the HHSC Guardianship Referral

CPS October 2017

When a youth turns age 17, the caseworker must consult with the supervisor and the developmental disability specialist (DDS) to determine if HHSC guardianship is appropriate. If it is, the caseworker must begin the HHSC guardianship referral process.

The caseworker must contact the SSI coordinator to determine whether the youth has active SSI benefits. If the youth does not have active SSI benefits, the SSI coordinator works with the Social Security Administration (SSA) to reinstate or apply for SSI benefits that may require submission of an application for SSI benefits to SSA. The SSI coordinator notifies the caseworker and the DDS of the status of the benefits or if an application was submitted.

See 10341.2 Ensuring Funding and Eligibility for Services.

Once the youth’s SSI benefits are confirmed, the supervisor must launch the aging-out (AOC) stage in IMPACT and assign the stage to the DDS as the primary worker and the caseworker as the secondary worker.

The caseworker must:

  •   complete the Guardianship Referral Form for Aging Out of Care (AOC) youth in IMPACT;

  •   electronically save and submit the form to the DDS; and

  •   gather the required supporting documentation required for the referral, which includes:

  •   a certified copy of the affidavit for the DFPS removal;

  •   a certified copy of the permanent managing conservatorship order or decree to termination of parent-child relationship;

  •   a certified copy of the most recent court order;

  •   a certified copy of the most recent affidavit;

  •   the most recent psychological evaluation;

  •   a copy of the Determination of Intellectual Disability (DID) or endorsement. The DID or an update must have been issued within two years of the guardianship hearing;

  •   medical records, if available;

  •   a copy of the youth’s birth certificate;

  •   a copy of the youth’s Social Security card; and

  •   a family tree basic report. The caseworker must ensure that the family tree is updated before creating the family tree basic report. See 1432 Family Tree.

The caseworker must send the required supporting documentation to the supervisor. The supervisor must verify all of the documents and send them to the DDS for review and processing.

The DDS must:

  •   ensure the packet of supporting documentation is complete;

  •   review the referral form to verify all relevant information is included;

  •   approve the guardianship referral form in IMPACT to send it electronically to the Guardianship Online Database (GOLD). (In the Preparation for Long-Term Care and Support Resource Guide see Helpful Hints for Submitting the Guardianship Referral Form, and Guardianship Referral IMPACT Guide);

  •   send an email with all supporting documents to the HHSC Guardianship Services supervisor and copy the DDS in state office; and

  •   document each event that takes place during the referral process, as it occurs, in the Guardianship Referral section of the Guardianship Detail page in the AOC stage in IMPACT.

HHSC will not begin the guardianship assessment process until all items are received.

GOLD automatically generates an email to the assigned DDS, caseworker, and DDS in state office indicating that HHSC received the guardianship referral. This becomes the official date the guardianship referral was sent to HHSC.

The HHSC guardianship supervisor reviews the referral and notifies DFPS via GOLD that HHSC:

  •   has accepted the referral; or

  •   has declined the referral, and the reason why (for example, required information or documents are missing from the referral).

If HHSC declines the referral, the DDS must:

  •   contact the HHSC guardianship supervisor to obtain details;

  •   direct the caseworker to obtain the missing information; and

  •   submit the missing information to the HHSC guardianship supervisor within 10 calendar days from the date of notification from HHSC. If the documents are not provided within 10 calendar days, the HHSC supervisor may close the referral, requiring DFPS to complete and send a new referral to begin the process again.

10343.4 Guardianship Assessment

CPS October 2017

The HHSC guardianship specialist (GS) advises the caseworker and developmental disability specialist (DDS) by email of the date their incapacity assessment begins.

The caseworker must:

  •   obtain the additional documentation, such as required assessments, and the SSI award letter relevant to the youth’s current eligibility, as they become available, and forward the documents to the HHSC GS; and

  •   invite the HHSC GS to the youth’s special education admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) meetings, permanency planning meetings, or Circles of Support or Transition Planning Meeting.

The HHSC guardianship specialist completes the assessment and prepares the decision.

10343.5 HHSC Decision, Notification and DFPS Response

CPS October 2017

The developmental disability specialist (DDS) and caseworker receive the HHSC Final Notification of Assessment (FNOA) decision by email.

The assigned DDS must document the date and results of the decision on the Guardianship Detail page in IMPACT.

10343.51 HHSC Agrees to Become Guardian

CPS October 2017

If HHSC agrees to become guardian, HHSC makes arrangements to file a petition for guardianship in probate court when the youth turns age 17 years and 6 months (policies outlined in 10343.6 HHSC Appointed as Guardian apply).

CPS staff may testify at the guardianship hearing if requested by the HHSC guardianship specialist or HHSC attorney. No subpoena is required for the caseworker to appear at this hearing.

10343.52 HHSC Denies Request for HHSC Guardianship

CPS October 2017

If HHSC determines that the youth is not appropriate for HHSC guardianship, the Notification of Assessment Finding includes alternate recommendations that DFPS may pursue.

The assigned developmental disability specialist (DDS), caseworker, and supervisor must review the notification and determine if they agree with HHSC’s decision, and if the less restrictive alternatives HHSC identified could meet the youth’s primary needs and should be pursued.

If they disagree with the Notification of Assessment Finding and still believe that the youth requires HHSC guardianship, the supervisor must request a joint staffing to review HHSC Guardianship Services’ decision.

Joint Staffing

The joint staffing must be conducted according to the Joint Staffing Process developed by DFPS and HHSC.

The supervisor must coordinate with the HHSC guardianship supervisor to schedule a joint staffing to review alternatives. The staffing must be held within five business days after DFPS receives the Notification of Assessment from HHSC or as agreed to by the supervisors.

The staffing must include:

  •   the HHSC guardianship supervisor;

  •   the HHSC guardianship services specialist;

  •   the CPS supervisor;

  •   the CPS caseworker; and

  •   the assigned CPS developmental disability specialist (DDS).

If possible, all participants should be physically present at the meeting; if not possible, participants may participate by conference call.

See the Preparation for Long-Term Care and Support Resource Guide for more information.

The assigned DDS must document the date and results of the joint staffing on the Guardianship Detail page in the AOC stage in IMPACT.

When HHSC Guardianship Services and DFPS Do Not Agree on Alternatives

If CPS staff and HHSC do not reach an agreement about the referral decision, the supervisor or DDS must forward the following to the designated CPS program administrator:

  •   HHSC guardianship referral documentation;

  •   assessment notification; and

  •   joint staffing notes outlining the discussion and point of disagreement.

The CPS program administrator must:

  •   conduct an independent review of the information contained within the referral and the assessment before contacting the HHSC guardianship services regional operations manager (ROM);

  •   email the HHSC guardianship services ROM and request to appeal the guardianship decision; and

  •   within seven calendar days, discuss relevant issues with the HHSC guardianship services ROM during a conference call, and try to reach an agreement on the pending referral and the youth’s needs.

The HHSC guardianship services ROM notifies the CPS program administrator in writing, within five calendar days after the conference call, if HHSC will seek guardianship.

10343.6 HHSC Appointed as Guardian

CPS October 2017

If HHSC accepts the referral for guardianship, HHSC notifies the caseworker, supervisor, and developmental disability specialist by email.

If the Probate Court appoints HHSC as guardian of a young adult on or after the 18th birthday and the young adult will continue to reside in the DFPS foster care placement, a representative from HHSC signs Form 2545 DFPS-HHSC Guardianship Extended Foster Home Placement Agreement, in the designated signature line, on behalf of the young adult. The representative signs this form instead of the Voluntary Extended Foster Care Agreement (VEFCA).

Under certain circumstances, DFPS or the foster parents may continue to be involved in the youth’s care. See:

10343.61 Youth Leaves DFPS Foster Care

10343.62 DFPS Foster Care Placement After HHSC Appointed as Guardian

Preparation for Long Term Care and Support Resource Guide; see Foster Parent Wishes to be Guardian.

10343.61 Youth Leaves DFPS Foster Care

CPS October 2017

If HHSC is appointed guardian of a young adult age 18 or older and the young adult chooses to leave DFPS conservatorship and DFPS foster care, the caseworker can close the substitute care (SUB) stage in IMPACT.

10343.62 DFPS Foster Care Placement After HHSC Appointed as Guardian

CPS October 2017

DFPS may continue to provide a foster care placement for a young adult age 18 or older even when the young adult is receiving HHSC guardianship services.

In the Preparation for Long Term Care and Support Resource Guide see DFPS Foster Care Placement After HHSC Appointed as Guardian.

Since there will generally be a short delay, after the young adult turns age 18, before the probate court can appoint HHSC as the guardian, DFPS must make arrangements for Extended Foster Care eligibility in preparation for the young adult turning age 18. See 10400 Extended Foster Care for Youth Who Are Age 18 or Older.

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