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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.

Page last updated: 07/24/2013