How to sign up

When Can I Sign Up?

ANYTIME. The law extending Medicaid coverage for former foster youth up to age 26 took effect on January 1, 2014. You can apply any time of the year.

How Do I Sign Up?

In Virginia, the easiest way to sign up for your Medicaid coverage is to use the CommonHelp website. You should apply for ALL BENEFITS, which will include health care, as you might be eligible for other help, such as SNAP (food stamps), child care assistance, and utilities assistance.

The CommonHelp site is self-directed and can be accessed from any internet-connected computer, but it can be complicated to navigate. If you’d like help applying, you can also ask for help at any local department of social services—just be sure to tell them right away that you were in foster care when you turned 18, and you think you’re eligible for Medicaid because of that.

You do not need to know information about your income or employment history to apply for and receive “Medicaid to 26” coverage. If you’re applying for other benefits as well, though, you will be required to supply this kind of information, so you may want to have it on-hand.

You can also sign up at any local department of social services, either on one of their own computers or—at some local social services—a paper application. If you’d like assistance when you go to apply, you can contact Voices Policy Analyst Allison Gilbreath at, and we will connect you with an advocate in your area who can help.

Note: If you aged out of foster care after January 1, 2014, you should have automatically been placed into “Medicaid to 26” coverage for former foster youth, but you should follow up with your social worker and local department yourself to verify your coverage.

Enrollment Tips

Be sure to say you were in foster care on your 18th birthday on any forms, or to anyone assisting you with enrollment.

Have a long-term mailing address you can use (safely) for any Medicaid-related mail you’ll receive. You can always use your local department of social services as your permanent address—just make sure to arrange it with them, and try to have a contact person there you can rely on to help you.

You DO NOT have to provide “proof” you were in foster care to be deemed eligible for coverage. Social workers and other local agency staff should know this, but might not. Refer them to any of the contacts listed on our Contacts page if you run into any issues.

You DO NOT have to provide income information to enroll in “Medicaid-to-26” coverage. If you are applying for other benefits, however, you will be asked for this information, so you might want to have it on-hand if you can.

You should still apply for Medicaid coverage even if you’re unsure if you’re eligible for Medicaid as a former foster youth, as you could still qualify under other Medicaid categories.

Where can I go in my city or county if I want to sign up in person?

You can click here for a list of local departments of social services.

You can also call the Cover Virginia help line for assistance: 1-855-242-8282

You can also use the Enroll Virginia site for assistance.

Need More Help?

You can always contact Voices Policy Analyst Allison Gilbreath at, and we will help answer your questions and work through any enrollment issues.