Life Challenges, Between Foster Care and Adulthood, Addressed
The content below may contain dated material as it was prepared for the media in advance of Pittsburgh’s hosting of the G20 in March 2010.
Transition-aged youth, young women and men between the ages of 16 and 25 years, who have spent some portion of their lives in the care of adults other than their birth parents but who are on the verge of “aging out” of the child welfare system without a forever family, have mounting challenges as they approach adulthood. National data indicates that without a parent to be a role model or to assist these young adults to secure the basics of housing, employment and/or higher education, outcomes are poor.
The Allegheny County Department of Human Services (DHS) has had programs for transition-aged youth since it was established in 1997. Independent Living Programs (ILP) offer traditional assistance through DHS-contracted providers. Youth Services include: life skills assessments; creating individualized goal plans; promoting and providing job skills and career development; counseling on personal safety and health issues; financial assistance; employment assistance, housing; and household and dormitory items.
In 2006, to improve outcomes further, DHS instituted the Independent Living Initiative (ILI). ILI assists interested and qualified transition-aged youth to pursue post-secondary education. Three DHS Caseworker IIIs and two Master’s level Educational Liaisons assist participating youth, ages 16 to 24 years, apply for: admission to academic, vocational or other institutions for post-secondary education; employment and vocational training; housing; financial aid and scholarships. They also help youth enroll in programs and services to enhance post-secondary success.
Both ILP and ILI are supported by generous individual local foundations as well as the Human Services Integration Fund and numerous public/private partnerships.