Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services

DCFS Memo Series 2001-06
April 11, 2001



To: Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities
        Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Licensing Chiefs/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Susan N. Dreyfus

Document Summary

This memo provides information regarding allowable expenditures and allocations to counties under the new Independent Living Program guidelines.

As you are aware, the federal Chafee Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 increased the amount of funds available nationally for independent living programs for youth in out-of-home care. Last year, this Department also issued a Task Force report entitled "Independent Living for Children in Out-of-Home Care". To a certain extent, both the law and the report were based on research funded by this Department and involved evaluations of the outcomes of children who left out-of-home care in this state.

Beginning July 1, 2001, all counties will receive funds for the provision of independent living services. Proposed allocations for that purpose are included in Attachment 1 to this memo. Note that programs currently funded have, at a minimum, been held harmless even though several of those programs, under the formula, would have received less than they had previously been allocated. This "hold harmless" will be in effect for CY 2001 and 2002, but may be reduced over the following several years so that all counties will ultimately be funded as they should be based on the formula.

In addition, beginning April 1, 2001, all counties will receive an allocation for purposes of planning and capacity building to assure that counties are prepared to provide services when the July 1 allocations begin. These funds must be expended by September 30, 2001. Allocations of these funds are included in Attachment 2 to this memo. We will provide additional information on the content of plans and annual reports very soon, but planning and program development should not wait for those follow-up details. It is important that planning activities begin immediately.

Eligible Youth

These funds may be used for independent living services for youth in out-of-home care who are aged 15 or older and for youth up to the age of 21 who were in out-of-home care for at least six months and left care after the age of 17. There is no longer any requirement that youth in the program be Title IV-E eligible.


All counties will be required to contribute a match in the amount of 20% of the county's allocation. The match may be cash or in-kind. Cash match can come from Community Aids, local tax dollars, IV-E incentive funds or other local or state funds not currently used for match for other federal funds.


In order to assure that these funds are used in the most efficient manner and to assure that all programs are designed to serve a minimally functional number of youth, counties serving fewer than 15 eligible children under the age of 18 will be required to enter into consortia with surrounding counties. The purpose of the consortia approach is to assure that these funds are maximized and that all children can be served by a comprehensive and effective program. The counties under the heavy line in the table in Attachment 2 must enter into consortia. Although other counties are not required to enter into consortia, they are certainly encouraged to do so.

Both the one-time funds (April through September) and ongoing funds can be used through a consortium approach. One-time funds can also be used by counties for planning and developing consortia.

Plans and Reports

All counties or consortia of counties will be required to submit a plan for the use of the initial funds and the ongoing funds for the period of April 1, 2001 through December 31, 2002. Counties currently receiving independent living funds will be required to submit a supplement to their current plan for this same period, which may be incorporated into the plan of any consortia of which they may be a part. Annual reports will also be required of all counties or consortium. As noted above, further information on these plans and reports will be issued in the near future.

It is our intent that both plans and reports be simplified to the extent possible given our need to collect and provide data to the federal government. It is also our intent to outline the outcomes which must be achieved but to allow the greatest flexibility for programs to achieve those outcomes in a manner most appropriate to the program.

Outcome-Based Management

Given the nature of the research on the outcomes for these youth in the past, it is critical that this program be implemented, operated and evaluated on the basis of achieving specified positive outcomes. We are awaiting final mandates from the US Department of Health and Human Services on what data must be collected, but we believe we can determine some of these data items in advance. That information will be developed and disseminated with the program plan and report information. It is important that we measure achievement of goals for these youth on the basis of both pre- and post-discharge outcomes. It is our intent to minimize the requirements on county and tribal agencies through our consortium with other states via Chapin Hall at the University of Illinois. Some of the evaluation of program effectiveness will, however, be required at the program level.

Allowable Costs

Funds may be used for a wide range of services for youth aged 15 to 21. No more than 25% of the funds may be used for room and board for youth 18 to 21 and only for those youth in this age group who were in care until their 18th birthday (this limitation to youth who were in care on their 18th birthday is a requirement of the federal law).

The funds must be used for services as described in the above-mentioned Task Force report. These include the following:

  1. Excellence in Child Welfare Services

This includes the recruitment and retention of quality foster parents and agency staff who have the capacity to meet the unique needs of older adolescents in care; technical assistance to assure the quality of out-of-home care resources; the establishment and evaluation of outcomes related to independent living; maintenance of contacts between children in out-of-home care and their families of origin; increasing the cultural competence of foster parents, agency staff and service providers, including analyses of any overrepresentation of minorities in the out-of-home care system; assurance of physical, psychological and emotional permanence of children in out-of-home care.

Strategies include but are not limited to training and other incentives for foster parents, assuring that supervisory supports are available to case managers, providing specialized training for case managers, providing peer support for foster parents, and matching children with appropriate foster parents; implementing ongoing standards to be issued by the Department; formulating goals and outcomes for youth in out-of-home care; collecting data on these youth while in care and after leaving care; involving fathers in the lives of these youth; encouraging and maintaining communication among family members and supporting family relationships; establishing coordinated service teams for all youth in out-of-home care; assisting youth in managing relationships; assessing the causes of over-representation of minorities in the out-of-home care system; encouraging cultural competence in the workforce; recruiting and retaining quality foster parents and agency staff; and stabilizing out-of-home care placements.

  1. Normalizing Life Skills Development within the Child Welfare System

This includes building the capacity of foster parents and agency staff to serve as primary trainers of independent living skills and preparation and individualizing the independent living services provided to children in out-of-home care;

Strategies include but are not limited to implementing a system of pre-service and ongoing training for foster parents; educating all system actors on life skills development and child developmental stages; utilizing multi-agency transitional planning; implementing child-readiness training; involving youth in the case planning process; involving individuals who have relationships with youth; involving the large community in the lives of these children; addressing the special needs of children in preparation for transition.

  1. Recognition of Older Adolescence as a Crucial Transitional Phase Toward Self-Sufficiency

This includes maintaining and encouraging the healthy relationships between children in and exiting out-of-home care and supportive individuals, including foster parents, friends and other adults in the community; the establishment of transitional living resources; mechanisms for assuring the involvement of older adolescents in decisions affecting their lives; and the provision of resource information to youth leaving care to assure their familiarity with resources in the community.

Strategies include, but are not limited to, providing peer mentoring; utilizing volunteers; developing inter-generational programs; providing supervised and transitional living options; developing associations of youth in out-of-home care; establishing web pages for youth for resource information; providing youth with critical documents (e.g., birth certificates, medical records); developing a resource guide for all children leaving care; and arranging for experiential learning.

  1. Creating Bridges to Self-Sufficiency for 18 to 21 Year Olds

This includes the provision of "aftercare" support services for youth once they leave care, including at least annual contact with each youth; and the creation of outreach services to assure that youth who have left care have access to supports.

Strategies include but are not limited to encouraging ongoing foster parent involvement with youth who leave care; providing ongoing support for foster parents; assuring flexibility in service provision; developing outreach resources; transitioning youth to adult services and the adult services system; and providing community-based support and follow-up services after age 18. The nature of these support and follow-up services will be dependent upon the individual needs of youth who are leaving or have left care.

  1. Recognizing the Role of All Social Institutions in Helping Youth Achieve Self-Sufficiency

This includes facilitating any transition for youth from the child welfare or juvenile justice systems to the adult services system; utilizing existing services in the community provided by other agencies for the benefit of young people who have left out-of-home care; developing and utilizing coordinated service teams for youth in out-of-home care to assure that all appropriate agencies are involved in service provision; improving child support collections to benefit youth while in and after they leave out-of-home care; establishing programs related to the academic development of youth who are in and who recently left out-of-home care, including programs designed to assist them in participating in post-secondary academic and vocational programs; developing contacts with the private sector to increase employment training and employment opportunities for youth both in care and after they leave care.

Strategies include but are not limited to orienting child welfare and juvenile justice staff to the adult services system; developing case management specializations; facilitating inter-system cooperation; creating priorities to avoid waiting lists; involving youth in community programs; involving community organizations in the system; maximizing the collection and use of child support payments and enhancing paternity determination processes; developing memoranda of understanding with the local school system and post-secondary educational and vocational programs; facilitate the attainment of GEDs; assuring access to driver's education; targeting public health services; connecting youth with job training programs; creating linkages with W-2 advisory committees; providing youth with employment opportunities; and familiarizing youth with job centers.

More detail on all of these options is included in the Task Force's independent living report. This additional funding provides an opportunity for us to assure that these vulnerable youth are better prepared for the transition to adult living and that the child welfare and juvenile justice systems are achieving improved measurable outcomes.

Independent Living & Kinship
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone:  (608) 267-7287
FAX:  (608) 264-6750


Attachment 1: Annual Independent Living Allocation Beginning July 1, 2001
     (PDF 21 kb)
Attachment 2: Number and Percent of Children Aged 15-18;
      One-Time Funding ($800,000) Beginning April 1, 2001
  (PDF 20 kb )

c: County Foster Care Coordinators
Pam Hartman, UAFPGM
Anne Rankin, WFFPO

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.