You likely will be able to live in your own NYCHA or Section 8 apartment or in supportive housing. You can apply to ACS for $300 a month to help pay rent, but this money will only last until you turn 21. If you have already applied for NYCHA, you can check on your application by calling 718- 707-7771 or online here. Talk to your attorney about how to find a stable place to live.
You have a right to stay in foster care until you turn 21, as long as you are participating in a school or job training program or can’t live on your own. However, once you turn 18, you cannot be forced to stay unless you agree. Here’s information to consider when making that important decision and planning for life after foster care.
Where will I live after I leave foster care?
Will I be eligible for Medicaid and benefits?
- Medicaid: If you were in foster care in NY at age 18, you are entitled to get Medicaid in New York State until age 26, regardless of your income or resources. This may not be true in other states so talk to your lawyer if you plan to move out-of-state.
Will I get help with college?
Yes. Your foster care agency can help you apply for college and can help pay for part of the expense of college. It can also ensure you have somewhere to stay when you have breaks from school.
If you go to college outside NYC, your foster care agency will either pay your room and board or the same amount it would pay a foster parent toward your room and board, whichever is less. For this to happen, you have to stay in college full-time, keep a 2.0 GPA, and give the agency any paperwork they need.
You also can get federal financial aid and a number of scholarships. You may also get an ETV, which can pay up to $5000 per year for education-related expenses. You can access the ETV application here. Your caseworker should be helping you apply for these.
You may also be able to get help paying for things like books, yearbooks, and SAT preparation classes. Ask your attorney for help if you want help with these.
Fostering College Success – CUNY Dorm Project: This is a program for foster youth age 16-24 who are enrolled full time in a CUNY or who are in high school and have applied to CUNY. You live in a dorm setting and get tutoring, mentoring, and academic advising. Room and board is covered and you get a weekly allowance from your foster care agency.
Who can I call after I leave foster care if I have a problem?
- You can always call your legal team, even if your court case is over. [link to JRP directory and other child representation providers in NYC].
- If you left foster care with a goal of APPLA and you have not turned 21, ACS’s Supervision to 21 Unit should still be monitoring you. You can contact ACS here and ask how to reach your assigned case worker. You might be able to get assistance from them with housing and other issues.
Can I come back to foster care if I change my mind after I leave?
Maybe. There are rules about when a foster youth can re-enter foster care after they have been discharged. If you want to come back into foster care, it is important to contact both your caseworker and your lawyer.
Do you have trusted adults who will be there for you after foster care?
Think about who those people are in your life. If you’re not sure, this is a good time to ask for help in forming those relationships. This is an important topic to discuss with your caseworker and your lawyer.
What if I need help paying for clothes?
While you are in foster care, ACS must pay about $80/month for your clothing. They may also pay extra for special clothing, like for graduation or prom. Although this money may be given to your foster parent, you should be responsible for buying the clothing. You are also entitled to an “age-appropriate” allowance, but there is no rule about how much it must be. If you leave care, you won’t get the clothing stipend or any other allowance.
What should I do before I leave care?
- Make sure that you have your birth certificate, social security card, and at least one form of photo ID.
- Get a letter from your foster care agency with the dates you were in foster care to use when applying for certain benefits.
- Review your current credit report with your caseworker or another trusted adult.
- Apply for public assistance and/or food stamps before you leave care if you think you will need it.
- Apply for Social Security Income (SSI) if you think you might be eligible because of a disability.
More Resources About Leaving Foster Care
The information in this document has been prepared by The Legal Aid Society for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. You should not act upon any information without retaining professional legal counsel.