Foster Care Independence Program
The Montana Foster Care Independence Program is a part of the Child and Family Services Division of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.
Foster-care youth face unique and difficult challenges as they age and leave foster care. Studies indicate that they are less likely to finish high school and become self-supporting. They are more likely to be homeless or to become parents at a young age.
The services offered by the Foster Care Independence Program are intended to help Montana foster youth get the life skills they need to make a successful transition into adulthood.
Those services include:
- Life skills instruction in interactive group settings that provide peer support and experiential activities within a community.
- Transitional living plans that help youth identify their goals.
- Life skills assessments that help youth identify their strengths and needs and provide a framework for selecting appropriate programs and services for the transitional living plan.
- Mentors, caring adults who provide emotional support and assistance with independent living skills.
- Incentive payments that may be used
- To get a graduation equivalency degree, or GED;
- To get a high school diploma;
- For other educational achievements;
- To get volunteer experience;
- For satisfactory school performance;
- To participate in life skills groups;
- To participate in other activities intended to increase life skills and employability; or
- To actively seek full- or part-time employment.
- Stipends for youth ages 16 to 21 whose transitional living plans indicate they need help paying for:
- Secondary school educational expenses, such as tuition, tutoring, books, or driver’s education;
- Vocational training, including apprenticeships;
- Job readiness assistance, such as preparing a resume, buying appropriate interview clothing, haircuts, etc.;
- Travel costs to school or job sites;
- Setting up a dormitory room or apartment, including purchase of furniture, kitchen supplies, deposits, etc.
- Travel assistance to get to school, work, or necessary appointments.
- Room and board funds for youth ages 18 to 21 who are either enrolled full-time in a post-secondary program, employed full-time, or actively seeking full-time employment.
- Education and training vouchers toward the cost of attending eligible institutions of higher learning and training programs.
To be eligible for the Foster Care Independence Program, a youth must be:
- 21 or younger and “aging out” of the foster care system;
- 16 or older, in foster care, and likely to “age out;” or
- Adopted from foster care or appointed a guardian after reaching age 16.
For more information about the Foster Care Independence Program, contact the Child and Family Services Division at (406) 841-2400.