Chafee Foster Care Independence Program
The Department of Human Services (DHS), Office of Children, Youth and Families (OCYF) is the single state agency designated to administer and supervise the Chafee Foster Care Independent Program (CFCIP). The Independent Living (IL) Program is funded with Title IV-E, state and local funds. This state-supervised, county-administered program prepares youth in foster care, ages 16-21, for their transition from foster care to independence. The IL Program is operated statewide and all county children and youth agencies (CCYA) are required by regulation to provide IL services to youth in their custody. CCYA apply to OCYF to receive state and Chafee funds based on their assessment of local needs and an acceptable application.
IL programs are operated by the individual CCYA, their respective designated private providers, or both. IL programs are visited annually by staff at the University of Pittsburgh, PA Child Welfare Resource Center to assess services and provide training and technical assistance. Statewide training's and technical assistance sessions are provided based on identified needs and new practice implementations.
DHS is committed to providing youth making the transition from placement to self-sufficiency 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, non-marital childbirth and to increase employability, high school graduation rates, enrollment in post-secondary or vocational institutions and successful transition to adulthood.
In general, to be eligible for Independent Living services in PA, a youth must:
- Be at least 16 years old but less than 21 years old at the beginning of the state fiscal year;
- Be in, or have been in, out-of-home placement on or after age 16 (non-Title IV-E eligible youth may receive services through this funding source); and
- Be adjudicated dependent; or
- Be dually adjudicated dependent AND delinquent; or
- Be a pre-adoptive and adopted youth; or
- Be a qualified alien youth; or
- Be adjudicated delinquent with shared case management responsibility between the CCYA and the Juvenile Probation Office (JPO.)
The CFCIP made it possible to serve youth younger than age 16 through the provision of age-appropriate services such as pregnancy prevention or other preventative services. CCYA that plans to serve youth under age 16 with Title IV-E IL funds must describe their intent by submitting a separate attachment to their application. In addition, CCYA may provide age-appropriate IL services or programming, such as prevention, group sessions, and/or life skills to non-IL eligible children with other state and local funding.
Services to Youth Ages 18 – 20
County IL programs in Pennsylvania are required to offer some level of service, supports, and instruction to youth between ages 18 and 20 years old. The types and levels of services and supports for former foster care youth between the ages of 18 and 20 (or those discharged after age 16) vary by county IL program. While service provision within this age group is predominantly administered on an individualized basis, youth may also have access to IL group sessions as available.
To access IL services, please visit the County Children and Youth Directory Using the drop-down arrows, select "county children and youth agencies" to filter your search.
Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board
The Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board (YAB) is comprised of current and former substitute care youth ages 16-21. Youth leaders on the YAB educate, advocate, and form partnerships to create positive change in the substitute care system.
The YAB is funded by the DHS/OCYF and is supported by the University of Pittsburgh's Child Welfare Resource Center.
- More information can be found here.
Chafee Education and Training Grant Program
The Chafee Education and Training Grant (ETG) Program is a federally funded program that offers grant assistance to Pennsylvania undergraduate students aging out of foster care who are attending a postsecondary institution approved for Federal Title IV student financial assistance programs.
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) administers the ETG Grant Program on behalf of DHS. This program is authorized under the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 as amended by the Promoting Safe and Stable Families Amendments of 2001.
Maximum awards under this program are $4,000 per academic year. However, no award may exceed the student's cost of attendance minus other financial aid the student is receiving. Awards are contingent upon federal funding and are not guaranteed.
To be considered for this grant, you must:
- Be eligible for services under the Commonwealth's Chafee Foster Care Independence Program.
- Be identified as a youth in foster care or a youth adopted from foster care after attaining age 16.
- Be a youth participating in the ETG Program on your 21st birthday until you turn 23 years old.
- Be enrolled at least half time in a college or career school that is approved by the U.S. Department of Education for Title IV student assistance programs.
- Maintain "satisfactory academic progress" and demonstrate the financial need for the grant as defined by the postsecondary institution.