4.29.1 Independent Living Services


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The John H. Chafee Foster Care Program for Successful Transition to Adulthood (Chafee) is a federally funded program designed to support all youth who have experienced foster care at age fourteen (14) or older, in developing the skills necessary to successfully transition into adulthood, regardless of their permanency goal. Supports include an array of transitional services and resources provided by SSW, regional independent living specialist (ILS), community partners, private child care (PCC) providers, and other contract providers.

The following services are available through the Chafee I Program:

Kentucky Resources for Independence Success and Empowerment (KY RISE)

The KY RISE portal is a one stop shop for transition age foster youth. The site provides helpful information about resources and services that are available to current and former foster youth, such as education benefits, housing options, and aftercare services. Transition age foster youth can use the portal to access such services as ordering a birth certificate, life skills trainings, exit survey, request to return to care, etc.

Fourteen (14) to fifteen (15) year olds:

Foster/adoptive parents are being trained to work with fourteen (14) and fifteen (15) year olds in the home on “soft” skills such as anger management, problem solving, decision making, and daily living skills such as cooking, household responsibilities, laundry, and money management.

Youth in out-of-home care (OOHC) are eligible to apply for Youth Development Funds to support participation in extracurricular activities including recreational, enrichment, and school-related activities that are age and developmentally appropriate, and promote normal youth development of self-esteem, social, and independent living skills.

Sixteen (16) year olds:

Starting at age sixteen (16) youth are eligible to complete the Life Skills Reimagined by LYFT Learning. The curriculum includes instruction on obtaining a job, independent living, resiliency, career planning, developing and maintaining healthy relationships, financial literacy, and communication skills.

Youth age sixteen (16) and older are also eligible for Youth Development Funds and assistance in obtaining a driver's license or learner's permit.

Seventeen (17) year olds:

Transitional services are provided to all committed youth beginning at age seventeen (17). These services are designed to help prepare youth to successfully transition from foster care to adulthood. The regional ILS shall facilitate transition planning meetings within forty five (45) days after a youth turns age seventeen (17) and within ninety (90) days prior to a youth becoming age eighteen (18).

Eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) year olds committed to the Cabinet:

Youth age eighteen (18) to twenty-one (21) who extend their commitment are eligible to complete the LYFT Learning curriculum. These youth are also eligible to apply for Youth Development Funds, education assistance, and the DPP-333 Tuition Waiver for Foster and Adopted Children. Regional ILS will facilitate annual transitional meetings at age nineteen (19) and twenty (20) for youth on extended commitment, and within sixty (60) days of a youth becoming age twenty one (21).

Eighteen (18) to twenty three (23) year olds who transitioned out of foster care at age eighteen (18) or older:

Youth age eighteen (18) to twenty three (23) who transitioned out of foster care at age eighteen (18) or older, are eligible for a tuition waiver, Education Training Voucher (ETV), aftercare services, case management, and assistance with room and board.

Additional Services Include:
Tuition Waiver for Foster and Adopted Children

Tuition and mandatory student fees for any undergraduate or graduate program at any Kentucky public postsecondary institution, including all four (4) year universities and colleges, and institutions of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, shall be waived for a Kentucky foster or adopted child who is a full-time or part-time student if the student meets all entrance requirements and maintains academic eligibility while enrolled at the postsecondary institution.

Eligibility criteria for the tuition waiver:

  • The student’s entrance into the institution must be within four (4) years of their high school graduation or obtainment of high school equivalency diploma, except in those cases outlined in KRS 164.2847(6); and 
  • At least one of the following criteria must be met: ​
    • The student is currently committed to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) under KRS 610.010(5) and placed in a fa​mily foster home, an independent living program funded by CHFS, or placed in accordance with KRS 605.090(3); 
    • The student’s legal custodian on their 18th birthday was CHFS; 
    • The student’s family receives state-funded adoption assistance under KRS 199.555; or 
    • The student, who is an adopted child, was in the permanent legal custody of and placed for adoption by CHFS.

The student shall be eligible for the tuition waiver for up to one hundred fifty (150) consecutive or non-consecutive credit hours earned after first admittance, if satisfactory progress is achieved or maintained up to twenty-eight (28) years old, except in those cases outlined in KRS 164.2847(6).

Education Training Voucher

Youth who have transitioned out of foster care at age eighteen (18) or older, or who were adopted at age sixteen (16) or older, are eligible for the Education Training Voucher. Eligible youth may participate in the voucher program for up to five (5) years, or until age twenty six (26).

Fostering Success

Fostering Success is a 10-week workforce development initiative that provides current and former foster youth the opportunity to participate in a paid internship, while receiving professional development and career planning support.

Regional events

The ILSs partner with Murray State University to host regional KY RISE events aimed at providing youth, foster parents, and service providers an opportunity to learn about resources and benefits available to foster youth while building relationships. ILSs also collaborate with Murray State University to host regional educational events aimed at supporting foster youth in exploring educational opportunities and developing independent living skills.

Youth Advisory/Positive Youth Development Youth participation/mentoring

Voices of the Commonwealth (VOC) is a statewide advisory council group open to youth between the ages of sixteen (16) and twenty one (21) who are currently, or have previously been, in foster care. The intent of the advisory council is to provide an opportunity for former and current foster youth to educate the public and policy makers about the needs of youth in foster care. The advisory council will also seek to change negative stereotypes about foster kids and create a speaker’s bureau of youth. The council works to educate current foster youth about the resources and benefits that are available to youth in OOHC.

Youth Empowerment Conference

The Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) partners with Murray State University to host an annual statewide youth empowerment conference. The purpose of the conference is to provide current foster youth who are between the ages of sixteen (16) to twenty one (21) an opportunity to network with their peers and develop independent living skills while being empowered through national keynote speakers and workshops.

Practice Guidance

Independent living services may include:

  • Assistance in obtaining a high school diploma; 
  • Assistance in obtaining post-secondary education; 
  • ​Career exploration; 
  • Vocational training; 
  • Job placement and retention; 
  • Training and opportunities to practice daily living skills (such as financial literacy training and driving instruction); 
  • Financial literacy; 
  • Substance abuse prevention and preventive health activities (including smoking avoidance, nutrition education, and pregnancy prevention); 
  • Supports in developing meaningful, permanent connections with caring adults; 
  • Opportunities to engage in age or developmentally appropriate activities; 
  • Positive youth development; and 
  • Experiential learning that reflects what their peers in intact families experience.


The SSW:

  1. Refers committed youth age sixteen (16) to twenty-one (21), and those youth who request assistance following release from commitment, to contact the regional ILS; 
  2. Reviews the transition plan in the case planning conference and thereafter at subsequent periodic reviews for all youth ages seventeen (17) or over; 
  3. Supports the youth in making well informed decisions about their future, transition to adulthood, well-being, and other aspects of their case and permanency planning; and 
  4. Notifies the ILS of periodic reviews for the child.