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Independent Living Frequently Asked Questions

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What are the services available under the Office of Independent Living?

How do I access these services for a youth in foster care?
Independent Living Services are designed to assist youth in their own quest for increasing self-sufficiency skills and their move toward successful adulthood. They are not an entitlement. Once a youth’s team has identified a need for a particular service or support, the request should be made to the regional Independent Living Specialist. Once eligibility, availability of funding, and service provision are verified, the Office of IL will coordinate funding for the service, if warranted.

What is the difference between Extension of Foster Care Services for Young Adults and Transitional Living?
The Office of IL offers two forms of support to youth who age out of foster care. The first, Extension of Foster Care for Young Adults, is a federally funded program which requires that young adults meet certain eligibility guidelines, have a valid educational, job training plan or a verified special need and comply with certain guidelines.

The Office of IL recognizes that some youth who age out of foster care are not vested in pursuing a traditional education or job-training plan or may not want to continue receiving services from DCS, but have a need for short term support in order to be successful. An option for these young adults is the Transitional Living Program. The Transitional Living Program provides services in the areas of employment, job-training, life skills, money management and ongoing intensive case management. Young adults receiving this service meet with an agency representative weekly and build skills that assist them in becoming successful.

What is the difference between an Independent Living and Transition Plan?
The Independent Living Plan is a part of the permanency plan focused on making sure the youth is gaining the skills needed to live successfully as an adult. This plan is for youth ages 14-16. It must focus on Life Skills and Social Skills, and can cover other IL topics as needed.

The Transition Plan is a part of the permanency plan focused on specific resources needed and steps a youth and the team needs to take as they transition to adulthood. Any life skills needed are still addressed in this plan. This plan is for young people ages 17 and older and must focus on all nine IL outcome areas:

1. Life Skills 6. IL Employment
2. Social Skills 7. IL Housing
3. Communication 8. IL Transportation
4. Health 9. IL Education
5. Finances If needed: Parenting and Immigration Status

Who is responsible for the Independent Living Plan that all youth are required to have?
Policy 16.51 states that all youth, ages 14 to 16 will have an Independent Living Plan established concurrently with their Permanency Plan, and youth ages 17 and up will have a Transition Plan established concurrently with their Permanency Plan. These plan versions are developed within the context of the child and family meeting process and should be drafted by the Family Service Worker. Young people should actively participate in the development of these plans.

What do I do for youth on my caseload who have serious mental or physical health issues?
Policy guidance is provided in Policy 19.7 and 19.8 for transitioning youth with intellectual disabilities or mental health issues. In these policies, workers may find the appropriate procedure for making referrals for adult support. Each DCS Region has a liaison for these purposes that can be sought for technical assistance and support in accessing these services. IL Specialists are also available to provide guidance and support for teams in making these referrals.

Will the Independent Living Specialist attend all of the meetings?
IL Specialists are supportive staff members who provide technical assistance and guidance on adolescent permanency and transitioning issues. As each Region is assigned limited specialist positions, they may not be available to attend each meeting, but are available for consultation and case specific support when needed. It is important that all cases be discussed with the regional IL Specialist to inform and promote the planning process for youth as they near adulthood.