In California, the law says that you can stay in foster care until you are 21 if you meet certain requirements. One of those requirements is you must live in an approved placement.
What does “approved placement” mean?
It means your social worker (SW) or deputy probation officer (DPO) or the judge knows where you are living and has said it is OK for you to live there.
What are my options about where to live?
You may live in a foster home, or in a group home until you graduate high school or turn 19 years old. You may also live in the home of a relative or family friend, transitional housing, or what is called a “supervised independent living placement.” You just need to get approval from your social worker, probation officer, or judge.
What is THP+FC?
THP-Plus Foster Care (THP+FC) is a combination of housing and other services designed for young adults 18-21 years old who are in extended foster care. This housing might be on a campus, or in an apartment shared with a roommate, or you may get a room with a host family.
Are there housing options for me if I don’t want to stay in foster care?
Yes. There are transitional housing options for young adults 18-24 years old who have been in foster care. You would apply through your ILP coordinator or call the housing providers listed on ilponline.org directly.
What is a SILP?
A SILP is housing that you find. This could be a room you rent from a relative or friend, an apartment, a college dorm, etc. You decide who you live with and where you live. Before you move into a SILP, you and your social worker or probation officer will conduct a “readiness assessment” to decide if you are ready to live more independently. Remember, in a SILP there is no caregiver, but the housing still has to be approved by your social worker, probation officer, or by a judge.
To be ready to live in a SILP, you should be able to pay your own bills, manage your own money, find a safe place to live, and be ready to be independent.
How do I move into a SILP?
Step 1: Find a place to live
A lot of places can be SILPS, including houses or apartments with or without roommates, dorms, rooms for rent, living with a caregiver (who is not your biological parent), etc.
If you think you want to live in a SILP, it is important that you talk with your SW/DPO.
Step 2: Readiness assessment
Tell your SW/DPO that you would like to live in a SILP and have the foster care money sent directly to you. The SW/DPO must conduct a readiness assessment BEFORE you are eligible to move into a SILP. The assessment focuses on whether you are “ready” to live on your own. If you disagree with the SW/DPO decision, tell your attorney and/or Judge. Examples of readiness assessment topics include:
- Finances: Do you have a financial plan? Do you have a bank account?
- Daily tasks: Can you manage your own healthcare? Do laundry? Buy groceries?
- Safety: Do you know how to protect yourself? What should you do in case of an emergency?
Step 3: Physical inspection of the housing option
In addition to the readiness assessment, the SW/DPO must inspect the home to make sure it meets basic health and safety standards (i.e. running water, electricity, etc.). You must be at the inspection to learn if there are problems that can be fixed. If you are living in a dorm or other college housing, it is automatically approved and does not need to be assessed. Funding does not start until after the housing has been inspected and approved.
- Stay in contact/be available
- Stay in touch with your SW/DPO to coordinate the inspection visit. Never sign a lease or make a deposit without first checking with your SW/DPO to make sure you are approved for the SILP.
What if you aren’t “ready” or the home doesn’t meet basic health and safety standards?
Find out why! If you disagree with the assessment that you are not ready, then talk to your lawyer, ask for a hearing and ask for the Judge to make the decision. Don’t give up! Try again when you have a better plan. Revise your TILP goals to get you “ready.” Ask for a correction plan to make the housing up to standards.
- Expect your first SILP payment to take 4 to 6 weeks to arrive. You should have enough in your savings to cover 3 months rent because SILP takes time to kick in. If sharing rent or renting a room, make sure your part of the rent is fair so you have money for food and other expenses.
- Consider buying used furniture and appliances.
- Most rentals require deposits or first and last month’s rent before you move in.
- Consider the cost of utilities when creating your monthly budget. Utilities companies may require small deposits.
- Dorms or other on campus housing is automatically approved as a SILP. No Readiness Assessment or Physical Approval is needed.
- If you are considering moving to another county/state, talk to your SW/DPO and attorney before you move.
- Keep your address current with your SW/DPO so that you get your vouchers and payments.
The Alliance for Children’s Rights can help you. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 213.368.6010 to get started.