Improving NC’s Child Welfare SystemUpdate on the Family and Child Protection and Accountability Act (HB 630)
House Bill 630 (S.L. 2017-41) is strengthening NC’s social service system
Known as Rylan’s Law, the Family and Child Protection and Accountability Act will serve as the foundation for changes in how the North Carolina Division of Social Services (NC DSS) and the 100 county department of social services offices serve children and families. We are committed to keeping our readers informed about major developments to this important body of work.
North Carolina is taking steps to remove barriers to driving for youth in foster care.
Driver’s License Pilot
Not having a driver’s license can be a barrier to accessing education, health care, employment, and other important developmental activities. For youth in foster care, driving is not just a privilege, but a route to independence. The law directed NC DSS to create a two-year pilot program to help youth in foster care obtain learner’s permits and driver’s licenses. In response, in collaboration with county child welfare agencies, former foster youth, family partners, and other stakeholders, the Division created Transportation Really Is Possible (TRIP), a program that launched on December 1, 2017.
All 100 North Carolina counties may participate in TRIP.
TRIP, in addition to the LINKS program, attempts to address this important need. TRIP can reimburse youth and caregivers on a first-come, first-served basis for costs associated with a young person obtaining a driver’s license. Here are the criteria for this pilot program, which will run through June 30, 2019.
A youth is eligible for reimbursement of costs associated with obtaining a learner’s permit or driver’s license if they meet one of the following criteria:
- They are at least 14 ½ years of age but less than 21 years of age and in foster care as defined in G.S. 131D-10.2(9); or
- They were in foster care upon their 18th birthday and have entered into a Voluntary Placement Agreement with a county to participate in the Foster Care 18 to 21 program.
A caregiver is eligible for reimbursement through TRIP if they meet one of the following criteria:
- They are providing care for a youth in foster care as defined in G.S. 131D-10.2(9), who is at least 14 ½ years of age, but less than 18 years of age; or,
- They are providing placement to a young adult 18 years of age or older, but less than 21 years of age, who has entered into a Voluntary Placement Agreement with a county to participate in the Foster Care 18 to 21 program.
The following costs are eligible for reimbursement through TRIP:
Driver’s Education. Reimbursement may be provided for costs associated with driver’s education offered through a public high school. Reimbursement may also be provided for driver’s education through private driving schools for young people who cannot access driver’s education through the public school system.
Learner’s Permit and Driver’s License Fees. Reimbursement may be provided for limited learner’s permit fees and driver’s license fees in accordance with the NC DMV fee schedule.
Vehicle Insurance. Reimbursement may be provided for insurance up to $1,000 per eligible young person. This is a one-time cost and may not be provided to the same young person in both years of the two-year pilot program. County child welfare agencies must first apply LINKS Special Funds to a young person’s insurance costs. Once a young person has received assistance with insurance through LINKS Special Funds for three months (up to $650), counties may then provide additional support through TRIP.
Other Costs. TRIP program funds can be used to reimburse vehicle inspection fees, registration fees, vehicle property taxes, and vehicle history reports (e.g., Carfax, AutoCheck) to help young people obtain their own vehicle. TRIP funds can also be used to provide incentives to caregivers to allow young people to use their vehicles for the road test needed to obtain a learner’s permit or driver’s license.
- Youth must have at least one goal on their Transitional Living Plan (DSS-5096A) that specifies the steps the young person must take to meet the criteria for which the youth is seeking support through TRIP.
- The youth, caregiver, and agency must enter into a written agreement that includes (1) the youth’s plan to contribute toward ongoing costs associated with driving that are not or will not be covered by TRIP or LINKS, and (2) the caretaker’s commitment to support the young person in gaining driving experience.
- Youth must also complete, as appropriate, educational components related to budgeting and understanding vehicle insurance.
For more information about TRIP, please review the Dear County Director Letter (and accompanying materials) dated December 7, 2017 at https://www2.ncdhhs.gov/dss/dcdl/2017.htm.
The North Carolina Division of Social Services anticipates providing additional guidance for this program regarding the reimbursement of expenditures. The contact at the NC Division of Social Services for this program is Erin Conner (919/527-6351; e-mail: [email protected]).
NC Teens in Foster Care
Teens and young adults make up more than a quarter of kids in care in our state. Of the 11,192 children in foster care on July 31, 2017, 3,216 (29%) were between age 13 and 21.
Source Duncan, et al., 2018