CHOICES, Inc. proudly supports a scattered site Independent Living Program (IL) in Dayton and Cincinnati. IL is a voluntary program for youth 17-21 that are aging out of the foster care system. This program is designed to teach young people necessary life skills that will help them live a safe and productive life prior to emancipating from the foster care system.
It is the goal of this agency to assist youth in understanding the importance of personal accountability, responsibility and self awareness. We want to help this vulnerable population avoid the throws of drug addiction, prison, poverty, unexpected pregnancy, homelessness and brokenness that so often plague young people leaving the foster care system.
CHOICES, Inc. operates the Independent Living Program with the philosophy that youth in substitute care, ages 16-21 can benefit from the experience of being responsible for maintaining their own households, in an apartment, while receiving support in the form of caring, nurturing, and teaching adults. CHOICES IL program personnel provide such supportive services in order to help youth meet their physical, emotional and educational needs.
Referral & Placement Process
CHOICES, Inc. contracts with various child placing agencies within the Miami Valley area. Current county partner agencies include:
- Butler County
- Champaign County
- Clark County
- Clermont County
- Clinton County
- Darke County
- Fayette County
- Greene County
- Hamilton County
- Mercer County
- Miami County
- Montgomery County
- Preble County
- Shelby County
- Union County
- Warren County
When a youth is referred to CHOICES for Independent Living services, an interview is scheduled, which includes a CHOICES worker, the youth being referred, the placing agency worker, and at least one support person for the youth.
The interview allows for the exchange of information. First, the youth and key individuals in the youth’s life are informed of the exact expectations and operation of the Independent Living Program. Second, the CHOICES staff is able to gauge a youth’s readiness for the level of independence the program offers. Decisions for entry into the program are made on a case-by-case basis.
Scope of Services
Youth referred to our program are supported with growth, structure and the knowledge needed to be self sufficient in a real life apartment setting. Our staff makes every effort to place youth in a living situation that they will be able to maintain after completing the program. We foster growth through one on one and group teachings throughout a young person’s stay in our program.
Some of the areas focused on with youth in the IL program are as follows:
- Skills in vocational development
- Money management and budgeting
- Food preparation
- Identification of and access to community resources
- Interpersonal communication
- Relationship building and maintenance
The IL staff are expected to have at least weekly contact with the youth in their apartment. This allows the staff the ability to monitor the condition of each youth’s apartment and spend individual time working with each youth on developing skills in areas they specifically need assistance. Bi-monthly group meetings are also facilitated by the IL staff for the youth focusing on life skills in which the majority of the youth need instruction.
Upon successful completion of the program, the youth can continue to reside in the apartment if the lease is in their name. The youth may also keep all the furniture and household goods provided at placement. They also have the opportunity to accumulate money in a savings account by abiding by the rules of the program and helping to pay their bills. Upon successful completion of the program, they will receive any money that has been saved during their time in the program.
While CHOICES is unable to provide continued financial support to a youth after they are discharged from the IL Program, each youth leaving the program is informed that they are able to continue to participate in CHOICES life skills groups, or request instruction, or assistance with employment or health referrals or other assistance as needed. Furthermore, financial incentives are available to youth who continue their education.
Each youth leaving the IL Program for any reason is given a directory of community service organizations as well as information about services available to them from local county public child welfare agencies.