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The Chafee/SELF Program
The federal John H. Chafee Foster Care Independence Act, passed in 1999, provides funding to and governs the program known as the Support for Emancipation and Living Functionally (SELF) Program in Minnesota. The intent of the funds is to reduce the risk that youth aging out of long term out-of-home placement will become homeless or welfare dependent. Funds are therefore awarded for the provision of services designed to help older youth, currently or formerly in out-of-home care, prepare for a successful transition to adulthood.
How are Chafee/SELF funds awarded?
Chafee/SELF funds are made available to Minnesota counties and tribes via an annual Bulletin published on the DHS website. A Request for Proposals, published every five years, offers Chafee/SELF funds to community based agencies statewide.
Youth may continue to receive SELF-funded services up to age 21.
All county placements must be entered in the Social Services Information System (SSIS) in order for DHS to verify eligibility.
For purposes of the Chafee/SELF Program, out-of-home placement means 24 hour substitute care for children placed away from their parents or guardian and for whom a responsible social services agency has placement and care responsibility. It includes, but is not limited to, placement in foster family homes, foster homes of relatives or kin, group homes, and residential treatment facilities. A child is in out-of-home placement under this definition regardless of whether the facility is licensed and payments are made for the cost of care. Out-of-home placement does not include the following facilities:
For youth who remain in care past age 18, out-of-home placements include supervised independent living settings paired with a supervising agency or supervising worker. Examples may include host homes, college dormitories, shared housing, semi-supervised/supervised apartments, or other housing arrangements that meet an older youth’s needs for supervision and support as he/she moves toward independence.
Options for use of funds include:
The following federal and state parameters also guide use of Chafee/SELF funds:
Minnesota Statute Section 260C.212 subd.1, Independent Living Plan, requires “an independent living plan for all youth age 16 or older in placement. The plan should include, but not be limited to, the following objectives:
The independent living plan form that includes these objectives is in the Social Services Information System (SSIS) in the service plans folder. To create a new Independent Living Plan, choose “New Plan” from the action button and search for the Independent Living Plan in document templates. In accordance with the eligibility provisions, all youth ages 14 – 21 who receive Chafee/SELF-funded services (whether in placement or not) should have an independent living plan documenting the need and goals.
A young person’s plan for independent living should be based on an assessment of their life skills. DHS recommends the Casey Life Skills Assessment (CLSA) which is available at www.caseylifeskills.org
Youth should steer the development of their independent living plan. Focus on the youth’s strengths and start with the skills area they are most interested in working on. The independent living plan should be based on the youth’s goals, addressing steps needed to accomplish the goals and overcome barriers. Goals and objectives should be specific to the youth’s age, individual interests, culture, and the region in which they live.
Everyone involved in the development of the independent living plan, most notably the youth, should sign it. A signed copy should be kept in the case file.
Minnesota Statutes, section 260C.212, subd. 7, Administrative or court review of placements requires that when a child is age 16 or older, in addition to any administrative review conducted by a county social service agency, the court shall annually review a child’s independent living plan. Prior to the youth’s discharge from out-of-home placement, the court will review the progress toward, or accomplishment of, the goals outlined in the independent living plan form.
Agencies are obligated to respond to court reviews of youths’ independent living plans. This obligation does not depend on whether or not a county receives, or how they allocate, Chafee/SELF funds.
Each youth that receives an independent living service, whether paid for with Chafee/SELF funds or other funds, must be documented in SSIS by completing the MNYTD IL Services screen. The MNYTD IL Services screen is found in SSIS by going to the Adolescent Services folder under the person in all workgroups. A separate MNYTD IL Services screen must be completed for each 6 month reporting period.
DHS has awarded grants to community agencies statewide to provide the services listed in Minnesota Statutes, section 260C.212, subd. 7. They offer services to SELF eligible youth as well as youth who left care after age 16. DHS staff strongly encourages counties and tribes to refer youth to these community agencies and partner with them to prepare youth for a successful transition to adulthood. Please see the Healthy Transition and Homeless Prevention (HTHP) Program for more information.
The DHS Child Welfare Training System offers the following training to help youth transition from out-of-home care to adulthood:
Each summer, DHS staff and a committee of youth, private agency youth workers and county social workers, offer the Tomorrow’s Leaders Today (TLT) Conference. The 3-day conference is for youth ages 16 to 21, currently or formerly in out-of-home care, and at-risk youth involved with community agencies. It is held on a college campus. About 200 youth and 75 youth workers attend each year. The purpose of the TLT Conference is to celebrate and enhance the leadership capacity of youth, to teach leadership skills, and to strengthen the network of adults who value youth leadership.
For more TLT information and on-line registration go to: http://www.tlt-mn.org
This link is to an interview with a youth discussing how his needs were met as he aged out of foster care to attend college.
A guide for social workers, Helping Youth Transition from Out-of-home Care to Adulthood – Best Practices Guide
Youth Leadership Councils
The DHS Adolescent Services Unit supports four Youth Leadership Councils in Minnesota, comprised of current and former foster care youth. The Councils are located in Minneapolis, Duluth, Rochester and Willmar. The mission of the Youth Leadership Councils’ is to provide increased youth voice in the implementation and evaluation of foster care policy and practice, to develop a speaker’s bureau, and to educate and train other youth, resource families, child welfare workers, and the general public.
The four Youth Leadership Councils meet regularly, recruit new members, and learn leadership and planning skills. The Councils visit the State Capital annually while it is in session to meet legislators and advocate for legislation affecting youth. The Councils are asked to advise DHS on development of state level policy decisions affecting children in the foster care system. Locally, they educate foster parents, youth in care, social workers and other professionals, and raise funds to support issues they care about.
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