I. Extended Jurisdiction for Youth Aging Out of Foster Care

1. Young Adult

“Young adult” is a person who was in the conservatorship of DFPS on the day before the person’s 18th birthday. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.601(4).

2. Extended Foster Care

“Extended foster care” is foster care that extends beyond the young adult’s 18th birthday. It requires the young adult to reside in a residential facility that is licensed or approved and paid for by DFPS, including a foster home, foster group home, Residential Treatment Center (RTC), and Supervised Independent Living facility through a provider who has a contract with DFPS for extended foster care services. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.601(1).

3. Trial Independence

“Trial independence” means the status assigned to a young adult under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015, which is automatic and mandatory for a minimum of 6 months beginning on:

•   The date of the young adult’s 18th birthday; or

•   The date the young adult exits extended foster care. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015(b).

A court may order trial independence status extended for a period that exceeds the mandatory period under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015(b) but cannot exceed one year from the date the period under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015(b) commences. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015(c).

Each time a young adult exits foster care (originally at 18 or extended foster care), the youth adult will complete a new six-month period of trial independence. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6015(d).

4. Extended Jurisdiction After Child’s 18th 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 their 18th birthday for at least six months. Youth age 18 or older are allowed to temporarily leave foster care, and as long as the court has jurisdiction, the state is eligible for federal funding to provide services for the young adult, including independent living supports such as housing. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602.

While a youth is in extended foster care, the Family Code requires the court to conduct review hearings every six months, and make specific findings regarding the young adult’s living arrangement, the permanency plan, whether the young adult participated in developing the plan, and whether it reflects independent living skills and appropriate services in order for the young adult to achieve independence, and whether additional services are needed to meet the young adult’s needs. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602(b).

The extended jurisdiction statute states that, unless a court extends its jurisdiction over a young adult beyond the end of trial independence as provided by Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6021(a) or Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(a), the court’s extended jurisdiction over a young adult terminates on the earlier of:

•   The last day of the month in which trial independence ends; or

•   The young adult’s 21st birthday. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602(f).

A court with extended jurisdiction is not required to conduct periodic hearings as described in Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602 for a young adult who is not in extended foster care and who is only on trial independence and may not compel a young adult who has elected to not enter or has exited extended foster care to attend a court hearing. However, a court may, at the request of the young adult who is on trial independence, conduct a hearing described by Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602(b) or Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6021 to review any transitional living services the young adult is receiving during trial independence. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602(g).

For more information, see an Extended Court Jurisdiction Flowchart developed by DFPS.[7]

Unless a young adult receiving voluntary transitional living services while on trial independence reenters extended foster care before the end of the court’s extended jurisdiction, the extended jurisdiction of the court ends on the earlier of:

•   The young adult’s 21st birthday; or

•   The date the young adult withdraws consent to the extension of the court’s jurisdiction in writing or in court. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6021(b).

For more information, see a Brief Overview of Transitional Living Services developed by DFPS.[8]

5. Extended Jurisdiction in Guardianship Situation

If a court believes that a young adult may be incapacitated as defined by Tex. Prob. Code§ 601(14)(B), the court may extend its jurisdiction on its own motion without the young adult’s consent to allow DFPS to refer the young adult to the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) for guardianship services, as required by Tex. Hum. Res. Code § 48.209. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(a).

The extended jurisdiction to determine guardianship under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603 terminates on the earliest of the date:

•   DADS determines a guardianship is not appropriate under Tex. Hum. Res. Code Chapter 161;

•   A court with probate jurisdiction denies the application to appoint a guardian; or

•   A guardian is appointed and qualifies under the Texas Probate Code. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(b).

If DFPS or DADS determines a guardianship is not appropriate, or the court with probate jurisdiction denies the application to appoint a guardian, the court, under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(a), may continue to extend its jurisdiction over the young adult only as provided by Tex. Fam. Code § 263.602 or Tex. Fam. Code § 263.6021. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(c).

A young adult for whom a guardian is appointed and qualifies is not considered to be in extended foster care or trial independence and the court’s jurisdiction ends on the date the guardian for the young adult is appointed and qualifies, unless the guardian requests the extended jurisdiction of the court under Tex. Fam. Code § 263.604. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.603(d).

By Guardian Request

A guardian appointed for a young adult may request that the court extend the court’s jurisdiction over the young adult. A court that extends its jurisdiction over a young adult for whom a guardian is appointed may not issue an order that conflicts with an order entered by the probate court that has jurisdiction over the guardianship proceeding. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.604.

6. Role of Attorney ad Litem, Guardian ad Litem, or Volunteer Advocate

A court with extended jurisdiction may continue or renew the appointment of an attorney ad litem, guardian ad litem, or volunteer advocate for the young adult to assist in accessing services the young adult is entitled to receive. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.605.

An attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem appointed for a young adult who receives services in the young adult’s own home from a service provider or resides in an institution [as defined by Tex. Fam. Code § 263.601(3)] that is licensed, certified, or verified by a state agency other than DFPS shall assist the young adult as necessary to ensure that the young adult receives appropriate services. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.606.

7. Prohibited Appointments and Orders

The court may not appoint DFPS or DADS as the managing conservator or guardian of the young adult. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.607(a). A court may not order DFPS to provide a service to a young adult unless DFPS:

•   Is authorized to provide the services under state law; and

•   Is appropriated money to provide the services in an amount sufficient to comply with the court order and DFPS obligations to other young adults for whom DFPS is required to provide similar services. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.607(b).

8. Rights of Young Adults

A young adult who consents to the continued jurisdiction of the court has the same rights as any other adult of the same age. Tex. Fam. Code § 263.608.

For more information, see the Extended Jurisdiction Matrix created by DFPS.[9]