Foster youth have higher rates of chronic medical, mental health and developmental disabilities. Unfortunately there is no coordinated system to ensure foster youth have access to appropriate services. The information provided below is intended to help navigate what resources are available to foster youth with disabilities.

Trainings are available to assist with clarifying what benefits and resources are available to youth in extended foster care with disabilities. To access these trainings, visit the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) website section on AB 12.

Supplemental Security Income

SSI is a needs-based program that provides cash aid and Medcaid to qualified individuals with low income (less than $100 per month), few or no resources (less than $2,000 in total assets), and who are age 65 or older, blind, or disabled.

A youth who meets the eligibility requirements for both extended foster care and SSI may be eligible to receive both at the same time, although, SSI payments are offset dollar-for-dollar by the amount of federal foster care benefits, which means the total benefit received will be equivalent to the higher benefit amount, regardless of whether it is paid from SSI, foster care benefits, or a combination of the two. Ensuring SSI is in place at age 18 provides youth maximum flexibility and choice among benefits, services and supports.

Important things to remember for youth eligible for SSI:
  • A continuing disability review (CDR) is conducted at age 18 for youth who were SSI-eligible as children to see whether a youth will be eligible under the adult criteria. A CDR can take 12-18 months, but the youth receives the benefit this entire time and does not need to repay if he/she is determined ineligible under adult criteria
  • A youth can receive both SSI and federal foster care payments only if the SSI benefit is higher than the foster care payment. If the federal foster care benefit exceeds the SSI benefit, then the youth would receive only the foster care benefit and the SSI benefits will be placed in suspense. Because a youth will lose their SSI eligibility if they do not receive a SSI payment for 12 consecutive months, AB 12 requires that county welfare agency, during at least one month of every 12-month period, beginning with the date that the SSI benefit is placed in suspense, forego the federally funded AFDC-FC benefits and instead use state AFDC-FC resources to supplement the SSI benefit that the youth receives during that month. This will ensure that the NMD actually receives a SSI payment during at least one month of every 12 month period and will ensure the NMD retains eligibility for SSI.
  • In the case of youth who are eligible for state-only foster care benefits, (State Supplementary Payment-SSP) it is the foster care payment that is offset dollar-for-dollar by the amount of the SSI received. Thus, a youth receiving state-only benefits can receive both SSI and foster care benefits if the foster care payment exceeds the SSI payment.
  • Youth who receive a SSI benefit that exceeds their foster care maintenance payment may remain in extended foster care, even though they do not receive any foster care payment. These youth will receive all the services, including case management, ILP, and court supervision that all youth in extended care receive. If a youth approved for SSI elects to remain in extended foster care, the county must assist the youth in receiving the direct payment. (However, many of these SSI-eligible youth may choose to exit out of extended care because of the services and supports available in the community to SSI recipients).

Regional Center Services

Regional Centers provide services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities.

To be eligible, youth must have a developmental disability that begins before the 18th birthday, be expected to continue indefinitely. Includes:

  • Mental retardation
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Epilepsy
  • Autism
  • “5th Category” closely related tomental retardation


Youth eligible for extended foster care who are consumers of Regional Center Services continue to receive dual agency rates and the supplemental rate for extraordinary care and supervision.

Note: that adult residential facilities (Regional Center homes) are not eligible foster care placements. This is addressed in CDSS’s FAQ, question #4.

For a list of California’s Regional Centers, click here.

For the toll-free number to your local Office of Client’s Rights Advocate (OCRA) visit their website.

Specialized Rate for NMDs With Disabilities


The SCI is a county supplement to the basic rate for caring for children with higher medical, emotional/behavioral needs. The county creates its own policy, and rates may vary by county.

Youth ages 18 to 21 living in a foster family home, with a non-related legal guardian (NRLG), non-related extended
family member (NREFM) or with a federally eligible relative caregiver* may be eligible for a specialized care increment rate based on their assessed needs.


A foster care placement with a higher rate to provide intensive treatment and care for youth who are considered severely emotionally disturbed, and seen as an alternative to higher level group homes.


NMDs who receive federal foster care benefits* (or Kin-GAP benefits) and who are also regional center clients are called “dual agency” youth and receive a higher level of benefits

For more information on the difference between an AFDC-FC (federally) funded home and a state funded home, click here.

Note: that adult residential facilities (Regional Center homes) are not eligible foster care placements. This is addressed in CDSS’s FAQ, question #4.