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Services for Older Youth

Youth services (also known as the Independent Living Program) assists foster care youths ages 14-21 in developing the skills necessary to make the transition from foster care to independent living. Independent Living services include activities that are based on a written assessment of life skills. Areas of focus include personal development skills such as self-esteem, communication skills, decision-making, conflict resolution and anger management. Examples of independent living skills are career exploration, job skills, money, management, housing, transportation, and legal issues.

Audio Overview (MP3)

Eligibility, Services, Guidance & Procedures

Who Is Eligible?

Foster children are eligible to receive services through ILP at the age of 14 and may continue receiving services until age 21 if they are in the custody or placement responsibility of a local department of social services. Qualifying placements include those in foster homes, residential treatment centers and group homes.

Independent Living services should not be limited to foster care youths that receive the independent living stipend. As appropriate, some type of independent living information or service should be provided to each youth who can benefit from such information or services. Services may even be extended to youths after they have been discharged from foster care, if they meet the age criteria. Age 21 is the cut-off for services.

What are the Services?

Services provided through ILP include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Educational: Assistance in completing high school, general education degree and higher education, including assistance for tuition, admission fees, supplies, equipment, tutoring, etc.
  • Vocational Training: Job training/readiness, job search and placement and other related services to prepare youth to become self-supporting, or that increases performance/functional competency.
  • Daily Living Skills/Aide: Assistance and training on budgeting, housing, money management, career planning, procurement and/or provision of any services or items which facilitate establishing youth in an independent living arrangement; e.g., household goods, supplies, services, insurance, utility turn-on, etc. Daily living skills may be provided by local social services staff, others involved in the youth's care or through negotiation or contract with a resource person or entity.
  • Counseling: Individual and group.
  • Other Services and Assistance: Training, meetings, conferences, retreats, workshops, relating to building competencies that strengthen individual skills and foster successful independent living.
  • Integration/Coordination of Services: Collaborative efforts with other agencies.
  • Outreach Services: To attract eligible youths.

Guidance & Procedures

Related Links

Educational Opportunities

Community College Tuition Grant

This program will provide tuition and fees at any Virginia community college specifically for high school graduates or those who have received their GED if, at the time of graduation or completion of the GED, they were in foster care, in the custody of a social services agency or in a special needs adoption.

For more information visit

Education and Training Vouchers (ETV)

The Education and Training Vouchers (ETV) Program assists eligible foster care and adopted youth with post-secondary education and training expenses. It is designed to help youth aging out of foster care with the education, training and services needed for employment.

Funding for the program is supplied in the form of vouchers. These can applied toward, but not limited to, colleges, universities, community colleges and one-year training institutions.

Expenses Covered

  • Tuition and fees
  • Room and board
  • Rental or purchase of required equipment, materials or supplies (including a computer)
  • Allowance for books, supplies and transportation
  • Required residential training
  • Special study projects
  • Child care
  • Other related expenses


  • Youth ages 16 to 21:
    • Must have had their most recent foster care provided by the state of Virginia.
    • Must be eligible for services under Virginia's Chafee Foster Care Independence Program (CFCIP), which is offered to all eligible foster care youth between the ages of 16 and 21. Each youth in care, age 16 and over, must have a written transitional independent living plan that is based on the youth's needs, regardless of goal and placement. They must participate directly in designing their own program activities and must accept personal responsibility for achieving independence.
    • Must have received their high school diploma or equivalent, or general education development (GED)
    • Youth pursuing post secondary education should complete and submit the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA).
    • Must have initiated their post-secondary education or training before reaching the age of 21.
    • Must make satisfactory academic progress by maintaining at least a cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale or have an academic standing consistent with the institution's graduation requirements for the federal student financial aid program.
  • Youth 21 to 23:
    • Must meet all eligibility requirements for youth ages 16 to 21 listed above.
    • Must be a participant in the voucher program on the date they become 21 to be eligible to for assistance until age 23, as long as they are enrolled in a post-secondary education or training program and are making satisfactory progress toward completion of that program.
  • Adopted Youth:
    • Youth adopted from Virginia's foster care system after reaching age 16 are eligible for the ETV Program as long as they meet the same eligibility requirements for foster youth and who would have been otherwise eligible for services under Virginia's CFCIP.


  • Awards are based on need and availability of funds.
  • Vouchers are provided up to $5000.00 per year per youth.

How to Apply

  • The applicant may apply for tuition and fees for the entire academic year; equal disbursements will be made for each term (e.g. semester, quarter, trimester, etc.)
  • Foster care youth ages 16 to 21 should submit a completed application with documentation to their local department of social services.
  • If the youth is 21 to 23 or adopted at age 16 or over from foster care, documentation from the local department of social services with which they were most recently associated must be provided. Youth should submit a completed application with documentation to Virginia Department of Social Services.
  • ETV Program Application (DOC)


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Great Expectations

Community College

Learn More »

Module 1: What is a Transition Plan and why should I do one?

Module 2: Who is involved in Transition Planning?

Module 3: How do I develop a Transition Plan?

Module 4: What do I need to know to effectively plan for myself?

Module 5: What happens after my transition plan is completed?