- Unaccompanied minors may apply for and receive medical and SNAP benefits as the payee or head of household without parental permission. However they often experience difficulty obtaining public benefits.
- Unaccompanied minors are teens who are living on their own without the support of family or guardian, and may be homeless. For SNAP, a homeless youth should not be required to apply for benefits as a part of the adult's household with whom they are temporarily living if they have not been there for longer than 90 days.
- A minor parent does not have to meet TANF Live-At-Home Policy if the person is: (1) exempt; or (2) has not received TANF for 6 months without living with their parent, legal guardian or adult relative or in a maternity home or other adult-supervised arrangement, or being exempt.
- This memo provides a comprehensive list of policies that apply to unaccompanied minors.
- Policy Related to Unaccompanied Minors
- Unaccompanied Minor FAQ's
- Youth Services
Unaccompanied minors may apply for and receive medical and SNAP benefits as the payee or head of household. However, this population is often erroneously denied coverage and thus access to basic medical care and food assistance.
An estimated 25,000 unaccompanied youth live in Illinois, per a comprehensive 2005 state-run study on which Chicago Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) collaborated. CCH estimates that 11,447 unaccompanied youths, ages 14 to 21, comprised 9.1% of Chicago's homeless population in the year that ended June 30, 2015. Of this, the Chicago school system counted 2,622 unaccompanied youths attending its schools. According to the National Research Center on Domestic Violence, studies show that 42% of unaccompanied minors were victims of physical violence at home and 32% were sexually abused. There are not enough shelter beds for homeless youth. Many may move from place to place staying temporarily with friends and acquaintances, or not have shelter at all.
To ensure that unaccompanied minors receive the benefits for which they qualify, refer to the following policies.
Policy Related to Unaccompanied Minors
Unaccompanied minors may sign their own application for SNAP, cash and medical benefits. For SNAP, a youth who meets the definition of homeless should not be required to apply for benefits as a part of the adult's household with whom they are temporarily living if they have not been there for longer than 90 days.
Who Signs the Application (PM 02-04-03)
- For SNAP, any unit member who is age 18 or over can sign. If no one is 18 or over, the payee for the SNAP unit must sign. The applicant under 18 may be the payee.
- (For medical) If the child does not live with a caretaker relative or tax filer who is claiming the child, the application may be signed by:
- the child's guardian,
- an individual who is acting responsibly in behalf of the child, or
- the child.
Person Under Age 19 Not Living With a Caretaker Relative (94R)(PM 03-05-06)
A child under age 19 who does not live with a caretaker relative is eligible for All Kids Assist benefits.
- Note: A child under age 19 may also qualify for All Kids Share or Premium, or the Moms & Babies program. They must meet all financial and non-financial eligibility criteria for the program in which they are determined.
Definition of Homeless - Cash and Medical (PM 06-04-01)
- person is considered homeless if they lack a regular and adequate nighttime residence.
- person whose residence is a public or privately operated temporary shelter is considered homeless.
Definition of Homeless - SNAP (PM 06-04-02)
A person is considered homeless if they lack a fixed and regular nighttime residence or if their main nighttime residence is:
- a supervised shelter that provides temporary accommodations; or
- a halfway house or similar facility that provides temporary residence for persons intended to be institutionalized; or
- a place not normally recognized as a place to sleep (a hallway, bus station, library, car, etc.); or
- a temporary stay in the residence of another person. Persons are considered homeless for no more than 90 days when they are residing temporarily in the home of another person
TANF - Minor Parent Live-At-Home Policy (PM 14-06-00)
Pregnant women and parents who are under age 18 must live with their parent, legal guardian, or adult relative, or in a maternity home or other adult-supervised arrangement to qualify for TANF assistance for themselves and their children unless they are exempt, or they have not received TANF for 6 months without living with their parent, legal guardian, or adult relative, or in a maternity home or other adult-supervised arrangement, or being exempt. Minor parents are exempt from the Live-at-Home policy if:
- The minor is or has been married.
- The parent or guardian is deceased or their whereabouts are unknown.
- The minor has lived apart from the parent or guardian for at least one year before the child's birth or applying for TANF.
- The minor or the child's physical or emotional health or safety would be in danger if they lived with the parent or guardian.
- The parent or guardian will not allow the minor and child to live with them.
- The minor has one of the following good cause reasons to live apart from the parent or guardian:
- the parent or guardian lives out-of-state, is in an institution, or is addicted to drugs or alcohol;
- the minor's return to the parent or guardian's home would violate their lease or local health or safety standards; or
- the minor is in a licensed substance abuse treatment program that would not be available if they returned to the parent or guardian's home.
Unaccompanied Minor FAQ's
Q1: What if the minor is currently active on another medical case under their parent or other care taker relative's name?
A1: Manually register the minor's application and take action to delete the minor from the active case, or if in another office/FCRC, contact the other office to delete the minor. Meanwhile, the minor may access medical services using his Recipient Identification Number (RIN) and another form of identification. Examples of acceptable identification documents include, but are not limited to, a driver license or state ID, a work or school ID, school records, a letter from a social services agency or school social worker, or a birth certificate.
Q2: Will the minor be able to get medical services without the consent of a parent or guardian?
A2: State law (Public Act 098-0671) allows unaccompanied minors legal access to medical care without parental consent when the minor has documentation from one of the following six sources:
- an adult relative,
- a representative of a homeless service agency,
- an attorney licensed in Illinois,
- a public school homeless liaison or social worker,
- a social service agency providing services to at risk, homeless or runaway youth, or
- a representative of a religious organization.
Q3: What if the parent or caretaker relative reports that the minor has not left the household?
A3: For medical benefits, verification of the minor's living situation is not required unless questionable due to conflicting information. If questionable, accept documentation from one of the above mentioned sources.
Q4: What if the minor is currently active on another SNAP case?
A4: Take the following actions:
- Register the minor's application.
- Follow instructions in PM/WAG 18-04-03 to send the other SNAP case, Instructions to Recipient (Form 1721) to request verification that the minor is still living with the unit. Include the following: "We have received information that conflicts with information that you have previously provided. You must provide the information checked on this form within 10 days from the date of this notice. If you do not provide the requested information within 10 days, your SNAP benefits will be discontinued."
- Allow the SNAP unit 10 calendar days to return the information. Cancel benefits if the unit fails to provide the requested verifications within the 10 days. If the unit later cooperates, see PM 19-04-00 for restoring benefits policy. If the unit reports the minor is still living with the unit and provides verification, take action to deny the minor's application in accordance with PM/WAG 17-04-03 since the minor is already a member of a SNAP household unless the minor denies living with the unit.
- If the minor denies living with the unit, ask the minor for verification. Information provided by a social service agency, school or other government entity is acceptable. Send Form 2150 to the Bureau of Policy Development when getting verifications causes an undue hardship to the client and the FCRC cannot get the information.
- If the other unit reports that the minor has left, delete the minor for the next regular roll authorization that can be changed in accordance with WAG 18-04-12.
- Process the minor's SNAP application for the first month the minor is removed from the other case. Expedited service does not apply if the minor received benefits for the month of application as part of another SNAP unit.
If not yet connected to social services, provide unaccompanied minors with information about available services. Here are links to information about services for homeless and at-risk youth:
Or, call the Crisis Intervention Response System at 877-870-2663.
[signed copy on file]
James T. Dimas
Secretary-designate, Illinois Department of Human Services
Felicia F. Norwood
Director, Healthcare and Family Services