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. 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.

Q. Requirements for participation

Extended Foster Care (EFC):

  • Age 18-21 to enroll or re-enroll
  • Turned 18 years old in licensed foster care
  • Involved in at least one of the following activities:
  • Finishing high school or completing G.E.D.
  • Enrolled in post-secondary education
  • Working at least 80 hours/month
  • Participating in a job skills program
  • Unable to participate in one of the above full time due to a documented disability
  • Participate in transition planning and case planning, agree to meet regularly with IL case manager and grant them access to records and living environment

Q. Postsecondary Educational Support

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/myfuturemychoice-j )

Florida provides an exemption from paying tuition and fees to any school district providing workforce education programs, to any institution within the Florida College System, or to any state university for the following students:

  • Any student who is under 18 and currently in the custody of the Department;
  • Any student who is over 18 and was in the custody of the Department on his or her 18th birthday;
  • Any student who is under 18 and currently in the custody of a relative pursuant to § 39.5085, Fla. Stat.;
  • Any student who is over 18 and was in the custody of a relative on the 18th birthday pursuant to § 39.5085, Fla. Stat.;
  • Any student who is over 18 and was in the custody of a nonrelative on the 18th birthday pursuant to § 39.5085, Fla. Stat.;
  • Any student who spent a minimum of six months in the custody of the Department after reaching 16 years of age who was subsequently placed into a guardianship by the dependency court; and
  • Any student who was adopted from the Department on any date after May 5, 1997.

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

In order to determine if you might qualify for the tuition and fee exemption, please 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