This website was created by foster youth for foster youth to share real information about your options so that you can decide what’s right for you.
A law called The California Fostering Connections to Success Act (AB 12) has made important changes to foster care. If you’re in foster care at age 18, you have the option to stay in foster care until age 21 – and even if you leave foster care, then change your mind, you may have the option to go back into foster care until 21.
Why would someone want to stay in foster care after the age of 18? Foster care can provide you with options for housing, financial assistance, and more. There are ways that you can live on your own, with a roommate, or with a relative and still qualify for these benefits. So make sure you know your options before you go!
Who is eligible to re-enter extended foster care?
If you are between 18 to 21 and you were in foster care (or had an open case in the dependency court) on your 18th birthday, you qualify.
What if I was adopted or in a legal guardianship when I turned 18 years old?
If you were adopted or placed in a legal guardianship, you still may be eligible to go back into foster care if your legal guardian/adoptive parent passes away or is no longer supporting you. There are two organizations with lawyers who can help you with this: the Alliance for Children’s Rights, and the Children’s Law Center.
How do I ask the court to re-open my case so I can re-enter foster care?
To get started, call the Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS) 800.540.4000 or, if you were under Probation, call 213.351.0243. Tell them you need help re-opening your foster care case. They will ask you basic questions to see if you are eligible. Make sure you give them information about how they can contact you.
You will be asked to complete two important documents to re-open your case:
Voluntary Re-entry Agreement (VRA, SOC 163): This says that you want to come back into foster care.
A 388(e) Petition (also called JV-466): This is a legal document asking the court to re-open your case.
It’s best if you sign the VRA (SOC 163) before or on the same day that you file the 388(e).
If you sign the VRA, the social worker/DPO is responsible for helping you file the 388(e).
If any of this is confusing, contact the Alliance for Children’s Rights or the Children’s Law Center for help. They are there to help you and they work for you.
Once you start the re-entry process, it could be up to six weeks before you go to court. If you signed the VRA, you should be getting help from DCFS or Probation immediately.
- You will be assigned an attorney. DCFS or Probation should give you the attorney’s contact information.
- Call your attorney and make sure they know how to reach you.
If you are not getting the help you need with housing and your other needs, make sure to let your attorney know. They know what you are entitled to and can help you get it.
- If you are having problems reopening your case or contacting your lawyer, the Children’s Law Center or the Alliance for Children’s Rights can help!