DCF Appoints New Members to Advisory Council That Will Improve Independent Living Services

For Immediate Release:
August 15, 2012

Contact:
Erin Gillespie, Press Secretary, (850) 717-4450

DCF Appoints New Members to Advisory Council That Will
Improve Independent Living Services

New survey results show need for better services for youth
in foster care and young adults who have aged out

TALLAHASSEE - In the first step of a proposed overhaul of the state program that helps young adults leaving foster care, Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins appointed 12 new members to the state’s Independent Living Services Advisory Council today.

The reassembled panel and a new director of Independent Living services will help redesign this program to improve outcomes for youth in foster care and young adults who have aged out of the foster care system. Cyndee Odom, former Director of the Governor’s Office of Adoption and Child Protection, will be leading this vital initiative.

“We recently surveyed these youth and young adults to better understand their lives, determine where the gaps in services are and ask their advice on how to improve the program,” Secretary Wilkins said. “Our youth in foster care and those who have aged out deserve the same opportunities we expect for our own children -- to have a chance to grow up healthy, get a job and be successful adults.”

In addition to these improvements, the Department also plans to ask for Legislative changes to require mentors for these youth, increase their employment prospects and provide more accountability for the program’s spending.

Since 2007, expenditures for the Independent Living program grew by more than 70 percent. However, positive outcomes did not increase that dramatically. Currently, about 6,000 youth and young adults statewide are receiving Independent Living services, including specialized case management, life skills courses, budgeting, employment assistance, mentoring and financial assistance. Survey results published today show many successes for children in foster care and those who have aged out, but there are many challenges as well.

More than 1,700 children aged 13-17 currently in care participated in the survey.

  • 87 percent are receiving the dental care they need
  • 73 percent have access to the internet at home
  • 63 percent have a plan to participate in normal activities with friends
  • 47 percent had changed schools at least once that year
  • 28 percent have been arrested in the past year.
  • Only 12 percent have a learner’s or driver’s permit

More than 1,800 young adults aged 18-22 who aged out of foster care completed the survey.

  • 70 percent have a bank account
  • 80 percent had appropriate access to medical and dental care
  • 40 percent had ever been arrested
  • 47 percent were parents
  • 28 percent report being homeless at some point in their lives
  • Only 4 percent had a full-time job

To see the survey presentation, or detailed results by area, please go to www.myflfamilies.com/service-programs/independent-living.

The new members of the Independent Living Services Advisory Council are appointed to serve a two-year term beginning August 10, 2012. The Council’s first meeting is scheduled for Sept. 10, 2-4 p.m. at the DCF Headquarters, Secretary’s Conference Room, 1317 Winewood Blvd., Building 1, Tallahassee.

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List of the new advisory council members.