The Independent Living Program is a program which assists current and former foster youth between the ages of 16 and 21 achieve self sufficiency prior to, and after, exiting the foster care system. Older youth and young adults who have experienced extended time in foster care are at increased risk of negative consequences once they leave care, such as dropping out of school, unplanned parenthood, high rates of untreated illness, homelessness, criminal activity, depression and suicide. The program provides services to all youth ages 16 to 18 in foster care, young adults voluntarily in care between the ages of 18 and 21, as well as those who have aged out foster care at 18. For the purposes of this policy, "foster care" means that the youth was in Department of Social Services (DSS) custody as a minor and lived either in a licensed foster care facility or lived with a relative (not the removal home.)
The program is comprised of several elements:
An assessment of the youth's strengths and needs.
A plan that is based on the assessment which includes the youth's interests, goals, and responsibilities for fulfilling the plan.
Services outlined in the plan directed at achieving good outcomes with that youth. Desired outcomes for all youth from the foster care system are include access to routine mental health, health and dental health care, avoidance of High Risk Behaviors, sufficient income to meet daily needs, as well as many more.
Services are individualized but usually include employment, educational and vocational resources, life skills training, volunteer activities, etc.