From the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) website, the State offers an array of services for children aging out of the foster care system in the hopes of easing the transition to adulthood and self-sufficiency. The Older Youth Initiatives includes the Older Youth Services (OYS — formerly called Chaffee Independent Living Services), Collaborative Care, and Voluntary Services. OYS and Collaborative Care are sets of services and supports used in order to assist older youth successfully achieve their case plan goal. OYS and Collaborative Care are primarily focused on helping those youth who are expected to turn 18 in foster care, but the programs can be implemented concurrently with other goals like reunification and adoption. Voluntary Services are a set of services for youth who have “aged out” of the foster care system. These services are geared to assisting former foster youth in the areas of housing, employment, and education.
The primary purposes of the OYS program are:
- Identify youth who are expected to remain in foster care until their 18th birthday or after and assist them make the transition to self-sufficiency.
- Help identified youth receive necessary education, training, and services to overcome potential barriers to employment.
- Help youth prepare for and enter post-secondary education and/or training institutions.
- Provide personal and emotional support for youth aging out of foster care.
- Assist youth in locating and identifying community resources that will be available to the youth after DCS involvement has ended.
- Encourage positive personal growth in older youth through “teachable moments.”
The OYS service standards are available here.
Over the last few months, there have been increasing attention on the plight of these children and their lack of educational attainment. For a sampling of articles, see:
Education Records of Children in Foster Care, Legal Center for Foster Care and Education.
Getting Homeless and Foster Youth into College, by Daniel Heimpel, The Chronicle of Social Change.