How to access Independent Living funds for foster care and former foster care youth
By Dee Pearson
Independent Living Program Coordinator
The Independent Living Program has funding and support for youth aging out of foster care. These federal (Chafee Act) funds require states to provide independent living services and supports to youth who are “likely to remain in foster care until 18 years of age,” are “aging out of foster care” or have aged out of care and are between the ages of 18 and 21.
Youth must be between the ages of 16 and 21 and have been in Office of Children Services custody and out-of-home placement on or after their 16th birthday, including youth who left foster care after age 16 for adoption, guardianship or reunification.
Independent living funds can be used for job and life skills training, tutoring, and other programs that will aid in transitioning to adulthood. For youth who were in foster care at age 18, these funds can pay for short-term rental assistance. Other supports can include transportation to college, educational and training voucher funds, and preparation and exam fees for GEDs.
Funding for youth in foster care can also include participation in cultural events that will keep them connected to their heritage, structured activities including youth leadership conferences, summer camps and organized sports.
Requests for funding are made to the Independent Living Specialist (ILS). The ILS considers the youth’s current situation and other supports available. Working with the youth, the ILS determines how this short-term support will assist in meeting the youth’s independent living goals, such as academic achievement, securing employment, housing stability and engaging in positive social/recreational activities.
For more information about funding opportunities, please contact the Regional Independent Living Specialist or Dee Pearson, Independent Living Program Coordinator, at 465‑4659; firstname.lastname@example.org. Or go to the Independent Living Program website: http://www.hss.state.ak.us/ocs/IndependentLiving/default.htm.