By Sara DePasquale
The new year brings Foster Care 18-21 to North Carolina. This is a new program that offers extended foster care to children who have aged out from foster care. Foster Care 18-21 was created by S.L. 2015-241, Section 12C.9 and became effective on Jan. 1. The North Carolina Division of Social Services provides additional information about this new program in its Child Welfare Services Policy Manual, Section 1201, XII (“NC DSS §1201, XII”).
Eligibility Based on Age
A juvenile who is in foster care when he or she turns 18 may enter into a voluntary foster care agreement with a county department and continue to receive foster care services and benefits until turning 21. GS 131D-10.2B(a). The young adult who has aged out of foster care may enter into a voluntary foster care agreement at any time prior to his or her 21st birthday. Id.
There is nothing in the statute or state policy that limits enrollment to those children who age out of foster care on or after Jan. 1, 2017. As a result, it appears that children who aged out of foster care before Jan. 1, 2017 and who are not yet 21 years old may enroll in the Foster Care 18-21 program. Those young adults may contact either the county department where they were in foster care (county of origin) or where they currently reside. NC DSS §1201, XII.J.
By LaToya B. Powell
Yesterday, lawmakers returned to Raleigh for the 2017 long session. Among the many important issues the legislature is expected to consider this year, “raise the age” will likely once again be included. Since 1919, N.C. law has required that minors be prosecuted as adults for all crimes beginning at age 16. There has been a long-standing campaign to raise the juvenile age but legislative proposals attempting to do so have repeatedly failed. New York is the only other state in the nation that automatically prosecutes 16-year-olds as adults, although that state allows “reverse waiver” which permits transfer from criminal to juvenile court.
One of the reasons often cited for the legislature’s reluctance to raise the age is the strong opposition of law enforcement officers and prosecutors to such reform. That assertion is no longer valid, at least in part. The N.C. Sheriffs’ Association and several other law enforcement groups have publicly endorsed a new raise the age proposal by the Criminal Investigation and Adjudication Committee of the North Carolina Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice (NCCALJ). The proposal recommends that North Carolina raise the age of juvenile court jurisdiction to include 16- and 17-year-olds for all offenses, except high-level felonies and traffic offenses. Youthful offenders (16- and 17-year-olds) who commit Class A-E felonies would be automatically transferred to adult court upon a finding of probable cause or an indictment, alleviating public safety concerns held by law enforcement officers and prosecutors about violent juvenile offenders.
By Eric Zogry
Welcome to the first installment of the Juvenile Justice and Children’s Rights Section blog! If you don’t already know, our section is in its 19th year. We’re a very diverse group, in subject matter (we include experts in child welfare, education, juvenile justice, and mental health), in practitioners (including trial and appellate attorneys, paralegals, judges, and individual and policy advocates), in geography (with participation from the many corners in our state) and lastly, diversity in individuals, as we encourage a community with different backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
This is an especially exciting time to be involved with juvenile justice. The Chief Justice’s Commission on the Administration of Law and Justice has recommended that all 16- and 17-year-olds be processed in the juvenile justice system, while providing for an expedited process for transfer to adult court for only the most serious offenders. Additionally, we are celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, In re Gault. Gault transformed juvenile delinquency court from an informal, unfair process into a consistent and fair setting for youth to face criminal allegations.
We’re hopeful that this blog will bring our broad community even closer together. Please let us know if you have an idea, innovation, or opinion you want to share – we’d love to hear from you!