Categorical Eligibility for Foster Children

How does the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 impact foster children?

  • No School Meal Application Needed
    • Under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, foster children (refers only to a child that is in the care or custody of the Department of Children and Families/DCF) are automatically eligible for free school meals, regardless of personal or household income. Previously, a foster parent needed to submit a school meal application for the foster child. With the change in the law, an application does not need to be completed. When the school receives documentation of the child’s foster status from either the DCF or a foster parent, the foster child is automatically eligible for free meals.
  • Single Application for Families with Both Foster and Non-Foster Children
    • Foster families that have both foster and non-foster children living in the home may now file a single school meal application that includes all of the children in the household.
    • Even if the school has already received notice of a foster child from DCF, families should include all children (foster and non-foster) on the application. This may help the foster family's non-foster children to qualify for meal benefits based on family size and household income. The foster child will not be affected by being included on the application and will receive free meals regardless of whether the non-foster children qualify.

Complete information about the new categorical eligibility requirements for foster children is available on the DESE’s website.