Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
OCFS believes youth transition planning and life skills development should be done concurrently with ongoing efforts to explore, support, and advocate for legally permanent families and life-long connections for youth, in partnership with youth. OCFS believes positive family connections are vital to youth outcomes and that no young person, regardless of age, should exit foster care without meaningful, safe, and supportive family connections.
Youth transition services are provided to youth in care honoring the Youth in Care Bill of Rights. Transition planning will take into account the youth’s needs, wishes, and goals. Supportive services encompass a broad range of services, meaningful discussions, and active involvement by the youth and their team to help youth become prepared to successfully live interdependently in the community as young adults.
Older youth in care must be given a variety of opportunities to learn and practice essential competency based life skills. OCFS recognizes that youth learn by “trial and error” and we are committed to ensuring that youth have the support and opportunities that are provided to their counterparts in the community to build essential life skills and which are developmentally appropriate and culturally competent. We are committed to honoring youth voice and choice in all planning when determining the supports that are best suited to meet their needs.
- Youth in foster care who are age 14 to 18 years old.
- Youth who turn 18 years old while in foster care may sign a Voluntary Extended Support (V9) Agreement with the Department to the age of 21, while residing in Maine or temporarily in another state as part of their V9 Agreement.
- Youth who turned 18 years old while in foster care, but who were legally adopted after the age of 18, when that adoption disrupts prior to the age of 21.
- Youth who is residing with birth parents, may enter into a V9 Agreement from age 18-21, when OCFS oversight and support is needed to ensure youth safety and permanency.
- Youth in the custody of the Department or on V9 Agreement who are pregnant and/or parenting, transitioning from residential placements, in apartment placements, homeless, and likely to need adult services will be given priority.
- Youth who experience adoption or permanent guardianship disruption, but who do not re-enter foster care may submit a letter of request for V9 status to the district office from which they were adopted or entered permanent guardianship. The Program Administrator shall review the youth’s request and make a recommendation to the Director of Child Welfare Policy and Practice for a final approval decision.
- Youth in foster care who would have been eligible for adoption assistance subsidy or permanency guardianship subsidy prior to turning 18 and who signed a V9 Agreement and are subsequently adopted through Probate Court between 18 and 21 may continue to receive V9 services. The youth and adoptive parent must submit a letter of request to the Division of Child Welfare Director of Policy and Practice for approval to remain in V9 status indicating the circumstances of why adoption could not have occurred prior to age 18. The youth must also continue to meet the other educational and employment eligibility criteria.
- Youth in foster care age 18-21 who have a signed V9 Agreement and who has their parent's parental rights reinstated in accordance with Family Reunification Policy VII, F may remain in V9 status after the reinstatement of parental rights.
- Youth who was in foster care and is now experiencing factors that place the youth at risk of homelessness may request to enter into a V9 Agreement.
- Youth who were adopted, entered permanency guardianship, or were reunified with family at age 16 or older from DHHS custody, may be eligible to receive Education and Training Voucher (ETV) funds.
The Department does not discriminate with regard to Chafee youth transition services or ETV funding based on race, sexual orientation, religious affiliation, or any other factor that might prevent an older youth in care from receiving the benefit of program services. Youth who decline the offer of a Voluntary Extended Support (V9) Agreement may reconsider and may receive services at a later date up to the age of 21.
Eligible youth may negotiate a Voluntary Extended Support (V9) Agreement (Word) with the Department in order to receive extended placement and other supports until their 21st birthday for any of the following reasons:
- Obtaining a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED),
- Going on to a post-secondary educational program or a specialized post-secondary education certification program.
- Participating in an employment skills support program.
- Has continued need behavioral health supports.
- Has medical and/or special health conditions or needs.
- Has specialized placement needs that cannot be met by an alternative plan.
Youth whose V9 Agreement ended before the age of 21 or who declined the offer of a V9 Agreement may contact their caseworker or “Duty Worker” to request a meeting to negotiate a new V9 Agreement—up to age 21.
For more information contact:
Youth Transition Specialist
Office of Child and Family Services
2 Anthony Avenue, SHS 11
Augusta, ME 04333
tel: (207) 624-7928
fax: (207) 287-6156
tdd: Maine relay 711