Enhanced supports available for youth aging out of foster care
By Dee Pearson, Independent Living Program Coordinator
and Amanda Metivier, Youth Education Coordinator
In an effort to provide integrated services and promote normal life experiences to youth aging out of foster care, the Office of Children’s Services has launched two new enhancements to the Independent Living Program.
The first enhancement is expanded housing options for youth leaving foster care. Youth in foster care often lack supportive housing opportunities, and this often is a deterrent to achieving outcomes, such as job training or employment. In collaboration with Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC), Tenant Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) coupons will be available to provide monthly housing assistance and comprehensive case management services for up to 36 months to youth aging out of foster care. A youth needs to qualify for the Independent Living Program, be at least 18 years old and not yet turned 21, and meet the other eligibility requirements including being at or below 60 percent of the area median income.
Youth in the OCS TBRA program will need to contact their Regional Independent Living Specialist, who will provide an overview of the requirements and information regarding the allowable TBRA Service Areas.
The second enhancement is an expanded Education and Training Voucher (ETV) Program for youth attending college. In collaboration with the Child Welfare Academy of the University of Alaska, the expanded ETV Program will provide postsecondary support, intensive case management and educational assistance to youth as they navigate the college system.
Eligible youth can apply to receive the ETV funds (up to $5,000 per academic year). Funds can be used for books, fees, housing, and other needs related to their academic support. In order to engage youth as they plan for the future, postsecondary educational seminars will be held in each region for both in-and out-of-foster care youth age 16–21. Youth can contact their Regional Independent Living Specialist and/or Amanda Metivier at 907-786-6732 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.