A. Extended Jurisdiction

Under the Fostering Connections Act, a youth can voluntarily remain in foster care after their 18th birthday (referred to as "Extended Foster Care") if they meet certain requirements. Extended Foster Care is eligible for Title IV-E funding from the federal government until the youth's 21st birthday. 42 U.S.C. § 675.

In Texas, the eligibility requirements for extended foster care are that the youth over age of 18 is:

•   Regularly attending high school or enrolled in a program leading toward a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate;

•   Regularly attending an institution of higher education or a postsecondary vocational or technical program;

•   Participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment;

•   Employed for at least 80 hours a month; or

•   Incapable of performing the activities described above due to a documented medical condition. Tex. Fam. Code § 264.101(a-1).

Any court with jurisdiction over a young adult on the day before their 18th birthday will automatically continue to have jurisdiction of the youth beyond the 18th birthday for at least six months and must retain the case on their docket while the young adult is in extended foster care and during trial independence. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602. Per Tex. Fam. Code § 263.601 et seq., the court must conduct periodic hearings every six months, and must make specific findings. The court must also maintain jurisdiction over a youth age 18 or older who temporarily leaves foster care for a "trial independence" period. This is so that if/when the youth returns to foster care, the youth (and DFPS) will not lose eligibility for federal funding. This statutory structure assists the child welfare agency in ensuring federal funding to assist with extended foster care services. Without it, DFPS would not be able to serve many of the youth who leave foster care after turning 18 and later find they need to return to care for additional supports and services while they transition to independence. Extended care also offers support and stable placement for youth pursuing higher education.