CHILD WELFARE MANUAL

Section 4, Chapter 5 (Older Youth Program), Subsection 7 – Post Secondary Educational Opportunities

Effective Date:  5-1-19

 

Missouri is able to offer youth a range of programs including academic college, short-term certificate programs, and career and technical opportunities so youth may find the path that is best for them.

5.7.1 Resources and Supports

ACT: The ACT is a national college admissions exam that tests in English, math, reading, and science. The ACT results are accepted by all 4-year colleges and universities in the United States. Most colleges and universities require this prior to admission and a youth’s score can be used for some scholarships as well as determining acceptance into the school of the youth’s choice. Youth in foster care are eligible to take the ACT for free.

FAFSA: If a youth is a senior in high school or already graduated and wants to go to college, the youth can apply for federal financial aid by completing the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA). Since the youth is in foster care, the youth can mark his or her self-down as a one-person family which will help the youth receive the most financial aid available.

Definition of Independent Student: The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 (P.L. 110-84) and Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-315) changed the definition of independent student to include any student who “is an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court, or was an orphan, in foster care, or a ward of the court at any time when the individual was 13 years of age or older.” This is important to know to guide youth and adoptive families in completing the FAFSA.

5.7.2 Post-Secondary Visit

Youth 15 years of age or older in foster care with the Children’s Division are to receive a visit to a state university, community or technical college, or an armed services recruiter before being adopted or terminated from foster care per section 453.350, RSMo enacted in 2013. The visit is to include an entry application process, financial support application and availability, career options with academic or technical training, a campus tour, and other information and experience desired by the youth. The visit is not required if waived by the youth’s Family Support or Treatment Team. The FST’s decision to waive this requirement shall be documented on the Adolescent FST Guide (CD94) under the Post-secondary Education and Vocational Training Preparation section in the “Other information still needed” box with the explanation and date. The Adolescent FST Guide (CD94) should be signed by all members in attendance. This visit will be considered part of normal case planning procedures for Children’s Division and Foster Care Case Management agencies. Visits should be incorporated in the area the youth resides. The case manager is responsible for ensuring that the visit occurs. 

As this is considered part of life skill teaching, if deemed appropriate by the Family Support Team, which includes the youth, the Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood provider or Transitional Living Program provider can assist as part of the contractual agreement in place with Children’s Division. The youth’s Individualized Action Plan Goals (CD94) must be updated to include a goal of post-secondary education and a task of a armed service recruiter or school visit, entry application process, financial support application and availability, career options with academic or technical training, and a campus tour. The Chafee and TLP provider will enter the life skill on the NYTD Older Youth Services and Financial Expenditure Screen in FACES and will report tasks on the Individual Life Skills Progress Form (CD95). If this service is not referred to the Chafee or TLP provider, the Children’s Service Worker is responsible in taking the youth through the process as part of case management services and the life skills received will need to be documented by the Children’s Service Worker on the NYTD Older Youth Services and Financial Expenditure Screen by selecting Children’s Division as the agency regardless of CD or Foster Care Case Management affiliation.

The Children’s Service Worker, whether providing the service directly to the youth or referring to the Chafee or TLP provider, shall document the visit to the University, college, technical school, or armed service recruiter and related information on the Adolescent FST Guide (CD94) under the education section. The youth’s post-secondary plan will be selected and services to an armed service recruiter or technical school will be documented under “Vocational Training or Services.” University or college visits will be documented under “Post-Secondary Education and Vocational Training.”

5.7.3 Education and Training Vouchers

The Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001 added a 6th purpose, Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) to the Chafee program.  ETV allows states to provide funds for youth to attend post-secondary education or training programs.  Early and on-going support for education is extremely important in preparing youth for self-sufficiency.  Setting, monitoring and incorporating educational goals as part of their permanency plan will assist youth in understanding the importance of having a vision of educational success.  At a minimum our foster youth should have a HiSET as their educational goal, but it is our desire that youth shall have the opportunity to receive post-secondary education and training.  The ETV Program gives the Children’s Division the opportunity to provide educational and training funds to assist eligible youth

interested in pursuing a higher education to reach their goals. The Missouri ETV program is administered by Foster Care to Success.

Those eligible for ETVs include:

  • Youth currently eligible for Chafee services; and
  • Youth who were adopted or obtained legal guardianship from foster care after their 16th birthday;

Additionally:

  • Youth shall remain eligible until age 26, provided they are making satisfactory progress; A youth must be enrolled at least one semester prior to turning age 26 however as all funding ends at the 26th birthday.
  • Youth must have a high school diploma or equivalent;
  • Youth must demonstrate academic success or motivation in school (generally a “C” average or its equivalency or as otherwise agreed upon with the plan) or in a training program;
  • Youth must be accepted to an accredited or pre-accredited public or non-profit college/university and vocational school or certified training program;
  • Appropriate scholarships, grants and other financial assistance must be explored and utilized; and
  • There must be reasonable assurance the youth will graduate from the educational or training program.
  • Personal assets (bank account, car, home, etc.) are not worth more than $10,000.
  • Youth may receive funding for a maximum of five years. The funding does not have to be received consecutively in years but will end on the youth’s 26th birthday regardless if the youth has been receiving funds for five years.

Youth may receive up to $5,000 per year or the total “cost of attendance”. The cost of attendance includes:

  • Tuition and fees.
  • Room and Board for former foster youth who left care at age 18 or after but have not reached age 21. Room and Board assistance may also be available to eligible youth 21-23 if they are enrolled full-time in a post-secondary educational or training program.
  • Rental or purchase of required equipment, materials or supplies (including a computer).
  • Allowance for books, supplies, transportation, etc.; and
  • Special study projects.

Eligible youth may apply for post-secondary education/training assistance by completing the application online at Foster Care to Success’ website: http://www.fc2sprograms.org/missouri and submitting the required forms:

  • ETV Student Cashier Statement;
  • ETV Financial Aid Release Form;
  • Federal Financial Student Aid Application (FASFA)

All applicants must have an active E-mail account which can be created for free through the ETV website. ETV assistance will be reviewed and made on a semester basis. Students must reapply online for every new school year. Every term, they must complete and submit a new Financial Aid Release Forms and Cashier Statements.

Older Youth Transition Specialists assist with eligibility determination once a student has applied on-line.

5.7.4   Missouri Reach Tuition Waiver

During the 2009 legislative session, the general assembly placed tuition and fee waivers into statute for certain foster care students per 173.270, RSMo.

Tuition waivers and assistance with related fees are available to eligible youth on a tiered priority basis. Implementation of this program is in partnership with the Missouri Department of Higher Education (MDHE).

Priority is given to:

  • Those youth not otherwise eligible for Educational Training Vouchers (ETV).
  • Students adopted from Children’s Division after the age of 14.
  • Those youth who have at least 60 hours of college credit.

Foster Care to Success, a national non-profit organization, provides administrative services for the tuition waiver program. In order to apply, youth must go to Foster Care to Success’ website: http://www.fc2sprograms.org/missouri and complete the online application. Older Youth Transition Specialists will verify eligibility once application is made. The Missouri Department of Higher Education will approve applications based on the priority criteria. Youth eligible and accepted will be notified as funding is available on behalf of MDHE.

Youth who meet the eligibility criteria are encouraged to make application.

Foster Care to Success will process the applications once accepted by reviewing the applicants’ transcripts to determine academic standing, confirming the applicants’ tuition and fees with the college or university, and work with students to develop a community service action plan that will be verifiable and outcome based. Per the statute, youth are to complete 100 hours of community service or a public internship within a 12-month period beginning September 1st each year they receive the waiver.

MDHE has established the following types of community service and public internships that youth may participate in to meet this requirement:

  • Volunteering with a non-profit community service organization
  • Community service club activities (not meetings)

Campus coordinated community service projects include unpaid practicum and internships as well as philanthropic activities conducted by student service organizations

  • Institutional and community sustainability projects
  • Volunteering at a hospital, convalescent home, or group home for youth in foster care
  • Unpaid peer mentoring or tutoring programs, both on- and off-campus
  • Weekend campus clean-up, beautification activities
  • Helping with a community team such as AYSO soccer or Little League (helping with sports events of younger children, refereeing, etc.)
  • Volunteering for Habitat for Humanity, locally or abroad
  • Unpaid internships with a local, state or federal agencies

The following are not considered appropriate for community service:

  • Work often done by office, teacher or library student aides
  • Service performed for a profit-making organization
  • Service accomplished without obtaining prior approval
  • Activities usually considered normal extracurricular (or co-curricular) activities,
  • Service performed by a student for a family member or in instances where the family member supervises the service
  • Service related to a class, credit for a class or the making of profit, defraying costs of trips, etc.
  • Pay is received for the service rendered

Institutions of Higher Education the youth attends will monitor compliance and report it to MDHE. Once a youth is approved for the tuition waiver, continued participation in the program will be determined by academic standing, community service participation, and funding of the program.

5.7.5 Missouri Reach Credential Completion and Employment Program

The Missouri Reach Credential Completion and Employment Financial Assistance Program (CCE) program is a program to help youth successfully pursue an education or training pathway that leads to a recognized credential and entry into the workforce.   In addition to ETV, there are two components to MO Reach which are distinct but complementary:

  • The Reach Tuition Waiver, which is a full tuition waiver program available since 2011-12, and
  • Credential Completion and Employment (CCE), which is a short term, targeted assistance program to help youth earn a recognized certificate and/or specialized training that leads to employment .

Missouri Reach CCE:

  • Eligible youth are currently in care, exited care after age 17.5, or obtained legal guardianship or adoption after age 14.
  • Youth ages 19 – 25 are eligible (credential must be earned by 26th birthday).
  • Program participation is limited to 12 months – including pre- and post-training time – of comprehensive support and funding that leads to credential completion.
  • The credential must be earned in less than 9 months.
  • The maximum award amount is $8,000 over a 12 month period.
  • CCE participants are not simultaneously receiving:
    • postsecondary funding from ETV or Missouri Reach Tuition Waiver, or
    • other (specific) public education and training funding (i.e. workforce stipend). Exceptions may be approved by the Older Youth Program Development Specialist or Older Youth Transition Specialist in cases of documented need or extenuating circumstances.  
  • Participants may be in a no-cost Workforce Program but need living assistance – 3rd party rent payments, gas cards, etc. (Less than 25% of funding will be given to program participants.)
  • If a youth needs 15 credits or less to earn a Bachelors or Associates degree and has expended all federal and state higher education funding (such as PELL & ETV), MO CCE funds may be used to pay tuition, fees and buy books.
  • Participants must complete a skills and abilities aptitude test, phone-meet weekly with their Foster Care to Success navigator and build an online success profile (record personal and training goals and accomplishments).
  • All applicants are screened to determine if they are in default of federal student loans and coached to enter into a loan repayment plan. This is a program requirement for participants.

Application is made through Foster Care to Success’ web portal at: http://www.fc2sprograms.org/missouri/. 

5.7.6   Educational Opportunity for Children of Families Serving in the Military

Occasionally, families serving in the military receive Family-Centered Services (FCS) or their children come into custody of the Children’s Division. If the youth is a survivor of a war veteran, they may be eligible for a tuition grant for higher education.  Section 173.234. 6-11 RSMo. states “Survivors of war veterans shall be certified as eligible by the Missouri veteran’s commission to receive a tuition grant for higher education.  If the survivor is granted financial assistance under any other student aid program, public or private, the full amount of such aid shall be reported to the coordinating board for higher education by the institution and the eligible survivor.  Surviving children who are eligible shall be permitted to apply for full tuition benefits conferred by this section until they reach 25 years of age.”