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Name: In re R.G.
Case #: A144684
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 1 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 09/30/2015

Juvenile court erred in denying nonminor dependent extended foster care support due to a narrow reading of the statute. R.G., a dependent minor, turned 18 in 2014, and elected to remain in extended foster care under AB 12 provisions. At a February 2015 review hearing, the juvenile court found that since R.G. had not worked a minimum of 20 hours per week or attended school during the previous six-month period, he was not in compliance with his transitional independent living plan (TILP) pursuant to section 11403, subdivision (b). R.G. argued that he was in compliance when he was actively seeking employment. The court gave R.G. 30 days prior to termination of his dependent status in order for him to obtain employment. At a March termination hearing, the court found that appellant could be reinstated in the extended foster care program from the date he found employment, but denied retroactive benefits for the period during which he was seeking employment. On appeal, R.G. contended that the juvenile court’s order had to be reversed because the court incorrectly concluded that his well-documented efforts to obtain employment did not constitute compliance with the requirements of section 11403, subdivision (b)(3). The appellate court agreed, finding that the juvenile court based the order on a misunderstanding of the statute. The statute mandates financial support to a nonminor dependent who “is participating in a program or activity designed to promote, or remove barriers to employment.” It does not require enrollment in a formal program designed to remove barriers to employment. R.G. satisfied the requirement by working with his social worker on his new TILP. The emphasis on flexibility and support for the nonminor’s achievement of his goals is reflected in legislative history which shows that as long as a nonminor is working towards his goals as outlined in the TILP, a setback does not automatically disqualify him from the program.