Independent Living

If a child is placed in foster care, independent living services are required once they reach a certain age. All children and youth need to learn basic life skills in order for them to become successful adults. The state recognizes this and requires certain things from those serving youth.

For example, when a 14 year old has been in care for at least six months, an assessment and plan gets developed. If a youth is 15 or older when entering care, the assessment and plan gets developed as part of the case plan. Assessments and plans continue to occur as long as the youth is in care. 

The plan and the services available to the youth focus on:

  • Education - high school, college, technical training
  • Thinking about a career and planning for it
  • Getting and keeping a steady job
  • Money management
  • Finding a safe and steady place to live
  • Proper maintenance of your living space
  • Transportation
  • Understanding medical coverage
  • Making healthy choices
  • Understanding and be able to get important documents
    • Birth certificate
    • Social security card
    • Wisconsin State ID
    • Immigration papers
  • Awareness of community resources and support systems
  • Creating and keeping lifelong connections to supportive adults
  • Having healthy relationships
  • Creating goals for the future

The plans should include measurable goals and objectives. The activities should be experiential, whenever possible. Child welfare agencies are responsible for these plans and services. For more information, view the Wisconsin Child Welfare Independent Living Coordinators map to find out who to contact in your county.

Young adults age 18 and older (up to 23 in most cases) can also receive services if one of the following applies:

  • They have aged out of foster care
  • An adoption or court-ordered guardianship for the child happened after the age of 16

In most cases, Transition Resource Agencies (TRAs) are responsible for providing these services. For more information, view the Independent Living - Transition Resource Agency Contact Information map to find out who to get in touch with in your region.

Additional Information

Independent Living Program Eligibility provides a list of service types available by age.

Wisconsin’s Independent Living Program: 2016-2019 Summary Report provides an overview of the growth and evolution of the state’s IL program since 2016, including:

  • Structure and services provided
  • Population served
  • Initial outcomes
  • Youth voice initiatives