Removal/Wrongful Termination From EFC, PESS, Aftercare

What if I am told that I will be removed from EFC, Aftercare, or PESS but I don’t agree?

If you are told you will be removed from EFC, PESS, or Aftercare, and you believe you are meeting the requirements for the program, you could be at risk for being wrongfully terminated from the program. This means you could be removed from a program but actually do qualify to remain in the program. You have the right to appeal (or fight) this decision if you think you are being wrongfully terminated.

Some examples of why you may be told you are being terminated from EFC, aftercare, or PESS include:

  • If you don’t provide proof of being in a qualified unless the reason for that is based on a disability.
  • If you are in EFC and not living in an approved living arrangement.
  • And more

What if I fix the reason I am being removed from the program before the 30 days is up?

If you become eligible within the 30 days of receiving the notice, the notice must be withdrawn. However, this only applies to EFC and not Aftercare and PESS.

How will I know if I am being terminated from EFC, aftercare, or PESS?

You will be sent a notice that you are being removed from the program in 30 days. If you feel you have met the requirements and should not be terminated from the program, you have the right to appeal (or fight) this decision. This means a hearing officer (who is like a judge) will look at the situation and decide if you should be terminated from the program. You will have a chance to present the reasons you believe you should stay in the program at a fair hearing because you have due process rights. This means the state cannot take benefits away from you without notice and the chance for you to tell your side to a hearing officer. You have a right to appeal decisions about being removed from EFC, aftercare, and PESS.

What will the notice look like?

The notice you are given by the state should have the following information:

  • Reason for your removal from the program(s).
  • Other programs you may be eligible for.
  • Instructions on how to appeal the notice.

How long do I have to appeal?

You have 30 calendar days (meaning weekends are counted) from the date listed on the notice to request the fair hearing, but it is important you request a hearing RIGHT AWAY. If you are still in the program and you request a hearing within 10 business days of getting the notice, your services will not be cut off while you are waiting for a hearing date or until a final decision is made.

How do I request to appeal?

You will need to submit a request, which should be in writing (but does not have to be), to either (1) the community-based care provider that is currently providing you with independent living services or (2) Department of Children and Families Office of Appeal Hearings in Tallahassee.  You must make this request within 30 calendar days from the date you got the notice.  

Can anyone stop me from requesting a fair hearing?

No one may try to stop you from using your right to request a fair hearing.  Your local CBC can assist you in making your request.  You may also speak with your case manager and say you want to request a fair hearing.  But putting it in writing is best so you have a record.

What happens after that?

  • Your local CBC will first review your request. Sometimes, they will agree with you after they look at the situation again and let you continue in the program before even needing to go to a hearing.
  • If the CBC does not agree with you, a hearing will be scheduled. You will get written notice of the time, date, and place of the hearing. It is important you show up for the hearing. The hearing should be in the same county that you live in.
  • You will need to prepare for the hearing. You have the right to bring witnesses and evidence to explain your side of the story and you have the right to argue against any evidence or statements the state provides. It is best to have an attorney, but one is not required. To find an attorney at no cost to you, you can ask your case manager for help finding one or call your local legal aid society.

What happens while I am waiting for a hearing?

You cannot be kicked out of any program while you wait for a decision IF you asked to appeal within 10 days of getting the notice of termination

When will I know the hearing officer’s decision?

The hearing officer will prepare a written final order within 90 days.  A final order is the decision made by the hearing officer.  If the hearing officer finds that the removal from the program or programs was correct, then they will not order you back into the program (this does not mean you cannot reapply to the program later, if you now meet the requirements)  If the hearing officer finds the action taken was wrong, you will be able to stay in the program.

If I lose, is there anything else I can do?

You have the right to appeal the hearing officer’s written order to the District Court of Appeal.  Although you can represent yourself, you really should have an attorney help you. You can ask your case manager for help in finding an attorney, or you can ask your local Legal Aid Society for an attorney. 

If I lose the hearing, can I ever enter EFC or PESS or Aftercare again?

Yes, you have the right to re-apply for services even you lose.  You can re-apply for Extended Foster Care at any time until your 21st birthday.  You can re-apply for PESS and Aftercare Services at any time until your 23rd birthday.

Can I apply for a different service than the one I was removed from?

Yes. For example, if your application for PESS or for Extended Foster Care was denied and you lost the appeal, or you were discharged removed from PESS or Extended Foster Care, you can apply for Aftercare Services.  If you are under 21 and you do not qualify for PESS, you can apply to re-enter Extended Foster Care. Make sure to talk to your case manager to see what other help is available to you.

The Law

Fla. Stat. sec 39.6251, Fla Admin Code 65C-42.004, 42.006

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