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About the Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is committed to providing youth making the transition from placement to independent living with the skills and resources necessary to make them independent and productive members of society. The primary purpose of the IL program is to make every effort possible to reduce or eliminate the instances of homelessness, poverty, delinquent or criminal behavior, and non-marital childbirth and to increase employability, high school graduation rates, enrollment in post-secondary or vocational intuitions and successful transition to adulthood.

The ILP is guided by regulations found in the Pennsylvania Code, Title 55, Public Welfare, Chapter 3130, Administration of County Children and Youth Social Service Programs, which require that: :

    For every child 16 years of age and older the agency shall consider the appropriateness of providing programs and services to help the child prepare for transition from placement to independent living when appropriate. A written description (IL Plan) of such programs and services must be provided in the placement amendment. When independent living services are deemed inappropriate, the basis for the choice not to offer independent living services shall be described.

In Pennsylvania, the goals of the Independent Living Program (ILP) for each youth - independence and productivity - are demonstrated through the following measures of success:

    1. self supporting employment
    2. enrollment in educational or vocational training, or completion of high school education or equivalent
    3. stable place of residence after discharge from foster care

To achieve these objectives and to obtain funding each county Children and Youth agency that participates in the ILP submits an annual proposal outlining how it will provide IL services to eligible youth. The Independent Living Program components within Pennsylvania, as described in DHS's annual Children, Youth, and Families Bulletin, the Title IV-E Independent Living Program Application Guidelines, include the following:

  1. Needs Assessment/Case Planning (required)
  2. Life Skills Training
  3. Prevention Services
  4. Vocational Training
  5. High School Support and Retention
  6. Preparation for GED
  7. Individual or Group Counseling
  8. Assistance in Obtaining Higher Education
  9. Job Placement
  10. Subsidized Employment
  11. Practice IL Placement (Supervised Independent Living)
  12. Location of Permanent Housing
  13. Room and Board
  14. Stipends for Youth
  15. Aftercare Services
  16. Services for Teen Parents
  17. Retreats/Camps
  18. Indirect Services
  19. Program Administration

    The application guidelines specify, in broad terms, the requirements of Pennsylvania's IL Programs, including necessary documentation, fiscal responsibilities, and reporting requirements.

    In Pennsylvania, the individual IL Programs are operated by county Children and Youth agencies, their respective designated private providers, or both and are monitored by the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center's Independent Living Project staff. See the Technical Assistance LINK for more about the role of the Project and staff. Programmatic activities on the local level include:

      • individualized assessments of eligible youth to determine their IL needs and development of IL case plans based on these results
      • counseling and experimental programs in daily living skills, budgeting, locating and maintaining housing and career planning
      • stipends
      • job training, placement and follow-up services
      • assistance in obtaining higher education or vocational training, including technical assistance, financial assistance and counseling
      • preparation for GED
      • high school support and retention services
      • programs directed at improving self-esteem and self-confidence, e.g. retreats, teen conferences and workshops, group and individual counseling
      • programs to provide parent education and to help teen parents make the transition from foster care
      • purchase of books, audiovisual materials and equipment and other resources to be used in providing life skills and other training to youth in the program
      • establishment of ongoing support networks for youth discharged from care

    All of these counseling, training, and support efforts are encouraged to achieve successful outcomes for the youth involved in Pennsylvania's Independent Living Program. Typically only a selection of these services are offered by any particular county. See the ILP Bulletin link for current application.

    Success of the program is measured through collecting information related to the following questions: What are the results of the program in terms of:

      • increased general independence of youth and general reduction in dependency?
      • youths graduating from high school or receiving a GED?
      • youth entering post secondary education?
      • youth obtaining unsubsidized employment?
      • youth obtaining unsubsidized housing?

University of Pittsburgh Independent Living Project


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