Florida's I.L. Resource Center

Florida's Independent Living Resource Center

Florida’s Independent Living Resource Center opened in 2016. It was created to serve as an information clearinghouse to address all areas of Independent Living in Florida. As a free service, the I.L. Center provides information and referral services to youth, adoptive parents, former foster youth, teachers, mentors and social services professionals. The center also provides bi-annual statewide training opportunities for Independent Living professionals.

Florida’s Independent Living Program Overview

The Independent Living Program provides services to youth in foster care and young adults who were formerly in foster care. The objective of the program is to assist you with obtaining the life skills and education necessary to become self-sufficient, live independently and maintain employment. The services include life skills training and financial, educational and social support. Examples of such services are parenting classes, career counseling, therapy and psychological counseling and assistance with time management and organization. Your community based care agency (CBC) caseworker is responsible for informing you about all of the independent living services, including the PESS  aftercare and transitional funds and services.

My Future Choice

Current and former foster youth have a variety of services available to nurture their success. In the past, youth did not have the option to remain in foster care after their 18th birthday. Now, through Extended Foster Care, they have the flexibility they need to transition into adulthood at a pace that suits their individual circumstances.

“My Future, My Choice” is the theme for this new program, because it gives youth the option to remain in care until they turn 21, or - if they are enrolled in an eligible post-secondary institution - receive financial assistance as they continue pursuing academic and career goals. In extended foster care, young adults will continue to receive case management services and other support to provide them with a sound platform for success as independent adults.

View a flowchart of your new options

Find Out More

I.L. FAQ's

Q. What is extended foster care?

In 2013, a law passed in Florida allowing youth who would normally age-out of licensed care at age 18 to opt to stay in until age 21 (or 22 with a documented disability) while finishing school or gaining work skills and experience.

Q. Requirements for participation

Extended Foster Care (EFC): 

At the age of 18 have been residing in licensed foster care.

And

  • Attending high school or working on GED; or
  • Enrolled in college or vocational education program; or
  • Employed at least 80 hours per month; or
  • Participating in a program designed to promote or eliminate barriers to employment.; or
  • Have a diagnosed and documented disability that would prevent you from participating in any of the activities listed above.
  • In order to stay in the program, you must:
  • Meet with a caseworker every month
  • Continue to participate in at least one of the activities listed above
  • Attend Court reviews every six months
  • If you leave the program and want to get back in:
  • You must submit an application to your community based care lead agency for eligibility determination. Rules governing this re-entry process are currently in development.

There are a variety of choices for where you will live.  The first choice is for you to remain in your foster home, but the choices are: 

  • With a licensed foster parent.
  • In a licensed group home.
  • In a supervised living arrangement (i.e.: college dormitory, rental home or apartment).

 

Q. What is Postsecondary Educational Support Services?

PESS provides a monetary stipend for youth who turned 18 in licensed care after spending at least 6 months in care to attend postsecondary or vocational school until age 23.

Services (PESS):

  • Age 18-22
  • Spent 6 months in care prior to turning 18 in care, or adopted or placed in guardianship over the age of 16 after spending 6 of the most recent 12 months in licensed care.
  • Completed high school diploma or equivalent
  • Enrolled full time (9 credit hours) in Bright Futures eligible post-secondary or vocational school.

Tuition and Fee Exemption

(http://www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/independent-living/tuition--fee-exemptions )

Florida provides tuition and fee exemptions to eligible young adults. The waiver is authorized at State (public) Universities, Colleges (public) in the Florida College System, and School District Workforce Education Programs.

  • He or she is or was at the time he or she reached age 18 in the custody of the Department of Children and Families;
  • He or she was adopted from the Department of Children and Families after May 5, 1997;
  • He or she is or was at the time of reaching age 18 in the custody of a relative under s. 39.5085, F.S.
  • He or she is or was at the time of reaching age 18 in the custody of a non-relative under s. 39.5085, F.S.; or,
  • He or she was placed in a guardianship by the court after spending at least 6 months in the custody of the department after reaching 16 years of age.

The exemption remains valid until the student reaches 28 years of age. See § 1009.25(1)(c), (d), Fla. Stat

For questions regarding eligibility or how to obtain a Tuition and Fee Exemption form, CF-FSP 5220, contact your local Community Based Care Lead Agency. A list of contacts can be found here: http://www.centerforchildwelfare.org/IndependentLiving/IL%20Directory-Revised.pdf

 

Resources and Useful Links

Community-Based Care (CBC) Lead Agency Independent Living Contacts - Florida’s Child Welfare System is comprised of CBC Lead Agencies which combines the outsourcing of foster care and Independent Living services. This design provides community ownership over the programs and services designed to help older foster youth and young adults who have spent time in Florida’s System of Care.

National Independent Living Association

Florida’s Independent Living Resource Center https://www.danielkids.org/our-programs/floridas-i-l-resource-center serves as an information clearinghouse to address all areas of Independent Living Services

Employ Florida Marketplace, Florida's official online portal to virtual job-matching services and many other workforce resources. This tool was created through partnership between government and the private sector, to respond to workforce needs in our state. If you are seeking a job, you may create and post your resume, search thousands of openings in any or all of our 67 counties and access other career-development tools.

Employ Florida  One-Stop Center Directory

Family and Youth Services Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is responsible for federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families, children, individuals, and communities. ACF programs aims, among other things, to empower individuals to increase their own economic independence and productivity.

Florida Children First works to ensure that each child in care or in an at-risk situation will have a voice that is heard when decisions are made.  FCF uses legislative and policy advocacy, executive branch education and advocacy, training and technical assistance to lawyers and Guardians Ad Litem representing children, public awareness, and filing of amicus briefs as strategies to improve child serving systems.

Foster Club is the national network for young people in foster care. The organization’s mission is to lead the efforts of young people in and from foster care to become connected, educated, inspired and represented so they can realize their personal potential and contribute to a better life for their peers. It includes three mini-sites, serving children, teens and adults. Fosterclub.com includes articles, contests, message boards for youth.

Make Your Voice Heard: A Guide to Dependency Court is a video for youth ages 12 to 18 that explains what happens in dependency court and

On the Strengthening Youth Partnership Web site, you can learn more about who you are, what you want to do and how to get there. If you are between 10 and 24 years old, take a look inside. It’s fun and the links will help you get started on building your future. MyFloridaYouth.com has lots of resources to help you learn about your strengths, interesting careers, opportunities and training and getting into a technical school or college.

Youth Communicationhelps teenagers develop their reading and writing skills so they can acquire the information they need to make thoughtful choices about their lives. YC does that by training teens in journalism and related skills; • publishing magazines, books and other materials written and illustrated by young people; • encouraging teens and the adults who work with them to use our publications to stimulate reading, writing, discussion, and reflection.