Extended Foster Care is a voluntary program that offers young adults turning 18 in DFPS care opportunities to continue foster care placement and facilitate the transition to independence with DFPS supervision, if there is an available placement.

Young adults may stay for Extended Foster Care if they are:

  • Attending high school or a program leading to a high school diploma or a high school equivalency certificate (GED).
  • Attending college or other institutions of higher learning.
  • Participating in a program or activity that promotes or removes barriers to employment.
  • Employed for at least 80 hours a month or
  • Are incapable of doing any of the allowed activities described in Texas Family Code Sec. 264.101 (a-1) due to a documented medical condition.

Texas has had Extended Foster Care for a number of years but DFPS expanded the program after the passage of the federal Foster Connections Act of 2008 and state legislation in 2009.

Rules for the Extended Foster Care program can be found at TAC 700.346, and the policy can be found in the CPS Handbook, sections 1540 and 10400.

Extended Foster Care Forms

Number Title
2540 Voluntary Extended Foster Care Agreement
2541 Extended Care Rights and Responsibilities

Federal Instructions and State Legislation

Federal instructions (7/9/10) on the federal Fostering Connections legislation clarified that extended foster care required continued court involvement and that youth leaving extended foster care get a trial period of independence. During the trial period, they can return to foster care with federal support. The Texas Legislature in 2011, updated the Texas Family Code (TFC) on extended court jurisdiction (TFC 263.601 through 263.608) to meet federal requirements and allow for the trial-independence period.

Extended Court Jurisdiction

If a young adult is in Extended Foster Care, court jurisdiction will continue during this period but will not exceed the month of their 21st birthday. Extended Foster Care court review hearings are held every six months until they turn 21 or until they leave foster care.  Young adults that leave DFPS Conservatorship at age 18 or Extended Foster Care will have a Trial Independence period and court jurisdiction extended for 6 months.  Additionally court jurisdiction may be extended for a 12 month trial independence period if ordered by the court. See Texas Family Code 263.601 through 263.608 for details. See the Extended Court Jurisdiction Flow Chart

Trial Independence Period

A young adult in DFPS conservatorship who turns 18 as well as a young adult enrolled in the Extended Foster Care Program may leave foster care for a "trial independence" period of 6 months (or up to 12 months with a court order). During the trial independence period, the young adult may continue to receive other transitional living benefits such as PAL, ETV, and Transitional Medicaid and may be living with relatives, fictive kin or other family members or independently. There is also no DFPS involvement beyond any transitional living services that may or may not be provided, unless the court orders a review during this period. A young adult that elects to return to Extended Foster Care during the TI trial independence period may do so without losing Title IV-E eligibility.

Supervised Independent Living (SIL)

The federal Fostering Connections legislation also established a supervised independent living (SIL) component of Extended Foster Care. The Federal instructions (7/9/10) on that legislation clarified that states could proceed to start SIL placements.

SIL placement setting allows young adults 18 and older to be placed in a non-traditional, less restrictive environment while still in paid foster care. Young adults placed in SIL settings have minimal supervision and case management. This arrangement allows young adults to practice necessary independent living skills and achieve self-sufficiency in a supportive environment before leaving foster care.

After preparation, and with state legislative support, DFPS contracts for SIL placements began April 1, 2013. For additional information, see DFPS Supervised Independent Living.

Return for Extended Foster Care

Effective 9/19/11, young adults who turned 18 in DFPS conservatorship may return to participate in the Extended Foster Care Program until the age of 21 if the required stipulations are met:

  • Understand that court jurisdiction will be extended, if the return is during the trial independence period
  • Sign or re-sign a Voluntary Extended Foster Care agreement
  • Agree to participate in one of the extended foster care activities within 30 days of being placed in Extended Foster Care
  • Is offered an available placement

Young adults need to contact the regional PAL staff to be pre-screened for return for Extended Foster Care.