The John Chafee Independence Program is a federally funded program designed to teach children and youth in out of home care (OOHC) and youth formerly in OOHC the skills that will enable them to be self-sufficient after they are released from OOHC. The Chafee Independence Program mandates that all children twelve (12) and over in OOHC receive independent living services, regardless of the permanency goal. These services are provided by regional independent living coordinators (ILC) and private child caring providers.
Referrals for independent living classes can be made by contacting regional independent living coordinators. Referrals may be made by foster/adoptive parents or workers for the youth. Youth placed through private child care provider will receive their classes through the private child care provider.
The following services are available through the Chafee Independence Program:
Twelve (12) to fifteen (15) year olds
Foster/adoptive parents are being trained to work with twelve (12) to fifteen (15) year olds in the home on “soft” skills such as anger management, problem solving and decision making, and on daily living skills such as cooking, household responsibilities, laundry and money management (refer to Independent Living Soft Skills Worksheet).
Sixteen (16) year olds
Sixteen (16) year olds are eligible for formal life skills classes taught in each region by independent living coordinators or private contractors (refer to Independent Living Coordinator-Regional Map). The curriculum includes instruction on employment, money management, community resources, housing and education.
Seventeen (17) year olds
Transitional services are provided to all committed youth beginning at age seventeen (17) to prepare them for living independently. This is a period of time for youth to build relationships with new people who will assist them in developing budgets and locating housing that is affordable. Employment assistance is provided during this period to ensure the youth will be capable of maintaining housing that is established. Independent living needs as indicated on the youth’s Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment (ACLSA) are to continue. Once a youth’s case is closed and the youth accepts voluntary services, independent living (IL) services will be provided by the independent living coordinators or Chafee providers as determined by the ACLSA. One of the services provided is a youth driven transition plan meeting, held within ninety (90) days of the youth attaining age eighteen (18). This meeting is facilitated by the independent living coordinator (ILC) (42 USC 675 (5)(H)).
Eighteen (18) twenty-one (21) year olds committed to the Cabinet
Eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) year olds who extend their commitment are eligible for formal life skills classes, tuition assistance and a tuition waiver.
Eighteen (18) twenty-one (21) year olds who left OOHC because they turned eighteen (18)
Youth eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) who left care because they turned eighteen (18) are eligible for formal life skills classes, a tuition waiver, education training voucher (ETV) and assistance with room and board.
The Kentucky Organization for Foster Youth (KOFFY) is a statewide group open to youth currently and formerly in foster care. The aim of the group is to provide an opportunity for former and current foster youth to educate the public and policy makers about the needs of youth in foster care. The group will also seek to change negative stereotypes about foster kids, develop a mentoring program and create a speaker’s bureau of youth. Membership is open to any current or former foster youth, regardless of age (Contact regional ILCs for upcoming events.)
The primary goal for independent living services is to provide a youth with those skills necessary to live a healthy, productive, self sufficient and responsible adult life.
The ILC assists the youth or family’s team in addressing the needs of the youth for independent living services. Planning for services requires a clearly stated written plan developed by engaging the youth in setting objectives. Federal legislation requires that the youth participate in developing a Transition Plan. An effective plan requires an accurate assessment of the youth’s strengths and needs. It is important to take into account the knowledge that any young person needs to prepare for independence; and the youth should be involved in the assessment process.
The ILC assists a youth in making the transition from OOHC to self sufficiency by providing or facilitating services centered on the youth’s needs for:
- Socialization, cultural awareness, and recreation; and
For additional assistance, the youth and/or caregivers may be provided the Resource Manual for Youth with Disabilities in Foster Care. This document is a compilation of available programs that can be used by young people with disabilities in foster care to assist in transitioning successfully.
- Refers committed youth age sixteen (16) to twenty-one (21), and those youths who request assistance following release from commitment to the independent living program by contacting the ILC;
- Includes the referral to the ILC, and the child’s independent living services plan (developed using the Tip Sheet for Youth for Youth Transitioning Through Foster Care) on the child/youth action plan that is prepared during an initial case planning conference;
- Ensures the youth completes a transition plan within forty-five (45) days of the youth reaching age seventeen (17);
- Reviews the transition plan in the case planning conference and thereafter at subsequent periodic reviews for all youth ages seventeen (17) or over;
- Supports the youth in making well informed decisions about their future, transition to adulthood, well-being and other aspects of their case and permanency planning;
- Notifies the ILC of periodic reviews for the child.
- Independent living services may include:
- Facilitating and supporting a youth in his attempts to obtain a high school diploma or GED;
- Providing guidance with career exploration, vocational training, job placement and retention;
- Training a youth in daily living skills;
- Budgeting and financial management skills;
- Providing personal and emotional support, either directly or through referral to another agency; and
- Providing preventive health activities such as smoking avoidance, nutrition education, substance abuse and sexually transmitted disease and pregnancy prevention.