A. Extended Jurisdiction
Federal law (Fostering Connections Act) allows a youth to voluntarily remain in foster care after their 18th birthday – referred to as "Extended Foster Care", if they meet certain requirements such as staying in school, working, or participating in a job training program. Extended Foster Care is eligible for Title IV-E funding from the federal government until the youth's 21st birthday. Any court with jurisdiction over a youth on the day before they turn 18 will automatically continue to have jurisdiction of the youth beyond the 18th birthday for at least six months. 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 the youth age 18 or older who temporarily leaves foster care for a "trial independence" period so that if/when the youth returns to foster care, the youth (and the State) 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.