Adolescent Services

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?
Who is eligible for Chafee/SELF funded services?

What is the definition of out-of-home placement?

How can Chafee/SELF funds be used?

What service plans and documentation are required?

Does DHS fund service providers for Chafee/SELF eligible youth?

Is training available for social workers and care providers?

Are there best practice guidelines for the Chafee/SELF program?

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.

Who is eligible for Chafee/SELF funded services?

  • • Youth ages 14 and older who are on a social services or corrections caseload, in a county/tribal approved out-of-home placement, that is entered into SSIS and likely to remain in placement until age 18 or older
  • • Youth with developmentally disabilities capable of living independently in the community after aging out of county/tribal approved out-of-home placement
  • • Youth who leave out-of-home placement after age 16 for adoption, kinship care, or legal guardianship, up to age 21
  • • Youth up to age 21 who aged out of county/tribal approved out-of-home placement at age 18 or older.
  • Indicators that an adolescent will remain in care until age 18 or older include:

  • • A court ordered permanency disposition of long-term foster care/permanent custody to the agency
  • • A court order for extended juvenile jurisdiction
  • • Youth who are wards of the state
  • • Youth who indicate that they want to remain in placement pursuant to the Notice of Foster Care Benefits to Age 21
  • • Highly unlikely reunification for a youth in care based on a unique case history, presenting problems, and individual case goals, in the professional opinion of the caseworker.
  • What is the definition of out-of-home placement?

    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:

  • • Hospitals
  • • Inpatient chemical dependency treatment facilities
  • • Short-term facilities that are primarily for delinquent children
  • • Any corrections facility or program within a particular correction's facility not meeting requirements for title IV-E facilities as determined by DHS
  • • Forestry camps
  • • Jails
  • • Facilities to which mentally ill, chemically dependent or developmentally disabled children are committed under the provision of chapter 253B (civil commitment).
  • 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.

    How can Chafee/SELF funds be used?

    Options for use of funds include:

  • • Group independent living skills training
  • • One-to-one independent living skills training
  • • Transportation, to include mileage reimbursement for volunteers, foster parents and youth workers to transport youth as they work on completion of their independent living plan; bicycles, bus cards, car insurance or car repairs, if a youth drives a car to get to a job, GED classes, life skills training, or destinations related to completion of their independent living plan; driver’s education and permit/license fees; teaching use of public transportation.
  • • Education supports, to include tutors, GED fees, ACT/SAT or other test fees; assistance with post-secondary school applications and payment of those fees; assistance with post-secondary school financial aid applications; assistance with obtaining vital documents necessary for these applications.
  • • Employment supports, to include assistance with job shadowing or internships; cost of employment training programs, work uniforms or attire for a job interview; subsidized wage or wage for an internship or volunteer experience; assistance with career exploration, resume development, job seeking skills, mock job interviews, finding and keeping a job; fees to obtain a state issued identification card, Social Security card, etc.
  • • Efforts to find and nurture permanent connections between the youth and caring adults.
  • • Room and board assistance, to include damage deposits, short-term rent subsidies, assistance with utilities, household goods and/or furnishings. Only youth who age out of placement at age 18 or older may be assisted with room and board expenses.
  • The following federal and state parameters also guide use of Chafee/SELF funds:

  • • Funds must supplement, not replace, county efforts and funding sources.
  • • Funds may be used for room and board costs for youth who are being discharged from county placement at age 18 or older. In these situations, room and board is defined as damage deposits, utility hook-ups, purchase of household goods, and short-term rent subsidies.
  • • Funds may be used to assist youth who choose to remain in care past age 18 with room and board costs. In these situations, room and board is defined as damage deposits, utility hook-ups, and purchase of household goods. However, Chafee/SELF funds cannot be used as a substitute for foster care maintenance payments for youth in extended care between age 18 and 21. Placement options for youth in extended care past age 18 may include supervised independent living settings such as 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.
  • • Youth over the age of 18 who remain in care and work as part of their independent living plan are not required to reimburse the county for the cost of care with the income earned from their employment.
  • • Youth are allowed up to $10,000 in assets and remain eligible for Title IV-E foster care and Chafee/SELF funded services.
  • What service plans and documentation are required?

    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:

  • • Educational, vocational, or employment planning
  • • Transportation, including, where appropriate, assisting the child in obtaining a driver’s license
  • • Health care planning and medical coverage
  • • Planning for housing
  • • Money Management
  • • Social and recreational skills
  • • Establishing and maintaining connections
  • • Disability Income Assistance
  • • Vital Documents
  • 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.

    A young person’s plan for independent living should be based on an assessment of their life skills. DHS recommends the Ansell-Casey Life Skills Assessment (ACLSA) 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.

    The independent living plan should be reviewed and updated every six months, during administrative reviews and in preparation for the youth’s annual court hearing.

    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.

    Does DHS fund service providers for Chafee/SELF eligible youth?

    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.

    Is training available for social workers and care providers?

    The DHS Child Welfare Training System offers the following training to help youth transition from out-of-home care to adulthood:

  • • For resource families (foster, adoptive and kinship caregivers) – Bridging the Past and the Present: Developmentally Relevant Approaches to Effective Preparation for Adult Living
  • • For resource families and youth in care – Preparing Adolescents for Adulthood: Partnering for Success
  • 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.

    Are there best practice guidelines for the Chafee/SELF program?

    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.



    For more information contact:

    Kim Lemcke at 651-431-4686 or

    kim.lemcke@state.mn.us


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