Sec. 264.121: Transitional Living Services Program

(a) The department shall address the unique challenges facing foster children in the conservatorship of the department who must transition to independent living by:

(1) expanding efforts to improve transition planning and increasing the availability of transitional family group decision-making to all youth age 14 or older in the department's permanent managing conservatorship, including enrolling the youth in the Preparation for Adult Living Program before the age of 16;

(2) coordinating with the commission to obtain authority, to the extent allowed by federal law, the state Medicaid plan, the Title IV-E state plan, and any waiver or amendment to either plan, necessary to:

(A) extend foster care eligibility and transition services for youth up to age 21 and develop policy to permit eligible youth to return to foster care as necessary to achieve the goals of the Transitional Living Services Program; and

(B) extend Medicaid coverage for foster care youth and former foster care youth up to age 21 with a single application at the time the youth leaves foster care; and

(3) entering into cooperative agreements with the Texas Workforce Commission and local workforce development boards to further the objectives of the Preparation for Adult Living Program. The department, the Texas Workforce Commission, and the local workforce development boards shall ensure that services are prioritized and targeted to meet the needs of foster care and former foster care children and that such services will include, where feasible, referrals for short-term stays for youth needing housing.

(a-1) The department shall require a foster care provider to provide or assist youth who are age 14 or older in obtaining experiential life-skills training to improve their transition to independent living. Experiential life-skills training must be tailored to a youth's skills and abilities and must include training in practical activities that include grocery shopping, meal preparation and cooking, performing basic household tasks, and, when appropriate, using public transportation.

(a-2) The experiential life-skills training under Subsection (a-1) must include a financial literacy education program that:

(1) includes instruction on:

(A) obtaining and interpreting a credit score;

(B) protecting, repairing, and improving a credit score;

(C) avoiding predatory lending practices;

(D) saving money and accomplishing financial goals through prudent financial management practices;

(E) using basic banking and accounting skills, including balancing a checkbook;

(F) using debit and credit cards responsibly;

(G) understanding a paycheck and items withheld from a paycheck; and

(H) protecting financial, credit, and identifying information in personal and professional relationships; and

(2) assists a youth who has a source of income to establish a savings plan and, if available, a savings account that the youth can independently manage.

(a-3) The department shall conduct an independent living skills assessment for all youth in the department's conservatorship who are 16 years of age or older.

(a-4) The department shall conduct an independent living skills assessment for all youth in the department's permanent managing conservatorship who are at least 14 years of age but younger than 16 years of age.

(a-5) The department shall annually update the assessment for each youth assessed under Subsections (a-3) and (a-4) to determine the independent living skills the youth learned during the preceding year to ensure that the department's obligation to prepare the youth for independent living has been met. The department shall conduct the annual update through the youth's plan of service in coordination with the youth, the youth's caseworker, the staff of the Preparation for Adult Living Program, and the youth's caregiver.

(a-6) The department, in coordination with stakeholders, shall develop a plan to standardize the curriculum for the Preparation for Adult Living Program that ensures that youth 14 years of age or older enrolled in the program receive relevant and age-appropriate information and training. The department shall report the plan to the legislature not later than December 1, 2018.

(b) In this section:

(1) "Local workforce development board" means a local workforce development board created under Chapter 2308, Government Code.

(2) "Preparation for Adult Living Program" means a program administered by the department as a component of the Transitional Living Services Program and includes independent living skills assessment, short-term financial assistance, basic self-help skills, and life-skills development and training regarding money management, health and wellness, job skills, planning for the future, housing and transportation, and interpersonal skills.

(3) "Transitional Living Services Program" means a program, administered by the department in accordance with department rules and state and federal law, for youth who are age 14 or older but not more than 21 years of age and are currently or were formerly in foster care, that assists youth in transitioning from foster care to independent living. The program provides transitional living services, Preparation for Adult Living Program services, and Education and Training Voucher Program services.

(c) At the time a child enters the Preparation for Adult Living Program, the department shall provide an information booklet to the child and the foster parent describing the program and the benefits available to the child, including extended Medicaid coverage until age 21, priority status with the Texas Workforce Commission, and the exemption from the payment of tuition and fees at institutions of higher education as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code. The information booklet provided to the child and the foster parent shall be provided in the primary language spoken by that individual.

(d) The department shall allow a youth who is at least 18 years of age to receive transitional living services, other than foster care benefits, while residing with a person who was previously designated as a perpetrator of abuse or neglect if the department determines that despite the person's prior history the person does not pose a threat to the health and safety of the youth.

(e) The department shall ensure that each youth acquires a copy and a certified copy of the youth's birth certificate, a social security card or replacement social security card, as appropriate, and a personal identification certificate under Chapter 521, Transportation Code, on or before the date on which the youth turns 16 years of age. The department shall designate one or more employees in the Preparation for Adult Living Program as the contact person to assist a youth who has not been able to obtain the documents described by this subsection in a timely manner from the youth's primary caseworker. The department shall ensure that:

(1) all youth who are age 16 or older are provided with the contact information for the designated employees; and

(2) a youth who misplaces a document provided under this subsection receives assistance in obtaining a replacement document or information on how to obtain a duplicate copy, as appropriate.

(e-1) If, at the time a youth is discharged from foster care, the youth is at least 18 years of age or has had the disabilities of minority removed, the department shall provide to the youth, not later than the 30th day before the date the youth is discharged from foster care, the following information and documents unless the youth already has the information or document:

(1) the youth's birth certificate;

(2) the youth's immunization records;

(3) the information contained in the youth's health passport;

(4) a personal identification certificate under Chapter 521, Transportation Code;

(5) a social security card or a replacement social security card, if appropriate; and

(6) proof of enrollment in Medicaid, if appropriate.

(e-2) When providing a youth with a document required by Subsection (e-1), the department shall provide the youth with a copy and a certified copy of the document or with the original document, as applicable.

(f) The department shall require a person with whom the department contracts for transitional living services for foster youth to provide or assist youth in obtaining:

(1) housing services;

(2) job training and employment services;

(3) college preparation services;

(4) services that will assist youth in obtaining a general education development certificate;

(5) services that will assist youth in developing skills in food preparation;

(6) nutrition education that promotes healthy food choices;

(7) a savings or checking account if the youth is at least 18 years of age and has a source of income; and

(8) any other appropriate transitional living service identified by the department.

(g) For a youth taking prescription medication, the department shall ensure that the youth's transition plan includes provisions to assist the youth in managing the use of the medication and in managing the child's long-term physical and mental health needs after leaving foster care, including provisions that inform the youth about:

(1) the use of the medication;

(2) the resources that are available to assist the youth in managing the use of the medication; and

(3) informed consent and the provision of medical care in accordance with Section 266.010(l).

(h) An entity with which the department contracts for transitional living services for foster youth shall, when appropriate, partner with a community-based organization to assist the entity in providing the transitional living services.

(i) The department shall ensure that the transition plan for each youth 16 years of age or older includes provisions to assist the youth in managing the youth's housing needs after the youth leaves foster care, including provisions that:

(1) identify the cost of housing in relation to the youth's sources of income, including any benefits or rental assistance available to the youth;

(2) if the youth's housing goals include residing with family or friends, state that the department has addressed the following with the youth:

(A) the length of time the youth expects to stay in the housing arrangement;

(B) expectations for the youth regarding paying rent and meeting other household obligations;

(C) the youth's psychological and emotional needs, as applicable; and

(D) any potential conflicts with other household members, or any difficulties connected to the type of housing the youth is seeking, that may arise based on the youth's psychological and emotional needs;

(3) inform the youth about emergency shelters and housing resources, including supervised independent living and housing at colleges and universities, such as dormitories;

(4) require the department to review a common rental application with the youth and ensure that the youth possesses all of the documentation required to obtain rental housing; and

(5) identify any individuals who are able to serve as cosigners or references on the youth's applications for housing.

Comments

Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 268 (S.B. 6), Sec. 1.51, eff. September 1, 2005.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1406 (S.B. 758), Sec. 17, eff. September 1, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 407 (H.B. 1912), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 407 (H.B. 1912), Sec. 2, eff. September 1, 2009.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 168 (S.B. 1589), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 204 (H.B. 915), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2013.

Acts 2013, 83rd Leg., R.S., Ch. 342 (H.B. 2111), Sec. 1, eff. June 14, 2013.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1 (S.B. 219), Sec. 1.194, eff. April 2, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 81 (S.B. 1117), Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 944 (S.B. 206), Sec. 55, eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 944 (S.B. 206), Sec. 56, eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1236 (S.B. 1296), Sec. 7.004, eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1236 (S.B. 1296), Sec. 7.005, eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2015, 84th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1236 (S.B. 1296), Sec. 21.001(18), eff. September 1, 2015.

Acts 2017, 85th Leg., R.S., Ch. 937 (S.B. 1758), Sec. 6, eff. September 1, 2017.