Growing up in the foster care system has unique challenges beyond average ‘teenage’ problems. Foster youth report how differently they feel and are treated in comparison to peers. The Court of Appeals in San Diego leveled one obstacle that did indeed treat them differently – prior to today, a non-minor dependent (an 18-21 year old in the Extended Foster Care system) could not qualify for California’s Extended Foster Care program if they were married. The Court of Appeals today ruled that marriage does not render a youth ineligible for extended foster care.
“A non-minor dependent’s marriage does not necessarily affect any of those eligibility criteria. A married non-minor dependent’s age obviously does not change. Marriage does not prevent the non-minor dependent from living in an Agency-approved placement or receiving its services (i.e. “care”). Marriage also does not prevent the non-minor dependent from participating in a transitional independent living case plan. Indeed, the responsibilities of marriage may facilitate the non-minor dependent’s transition to independence. Allowing otherwise eligible married non-
minor dependents to participate in extended foster care furthers the purpose of the program, which is to improve outcomes for former foster children by providing assistance, case management, and financial support as they transition to adulthood.” In re H.C. (D072368)
Congratulations to trial attorney Jamie Blackburn for fighting a great fight for this client and paving the way for greater access to extended foster care services for the NMDs to come!