Independent Living

mississippi-voice-bannerThe Independent Living Program provides services to the approximately 1,200 Mississippi youth ages 14 to 21 in the foster care system. The program provides valuable information and instruction so youth can better achieve positive outcomes as they transition from state care.

Youth in Mississippi’s foster care continue to be eligible for services up to age 21 if they exit the system after their 18th birthday. Services can provide assistance for youth who, due to a temporary crisis, find themselves in need of additional financial help to continue in the process of transitioning toward self-sufficiency.

In July 2014, the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services, with support from the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative and the Foundation for the Mid South, launched a new effort dedicated to improving outcomes for Mississippi’s youth in foster care.

The Mississippi Teen Advisory Board—a group of 30 young people in the Mississippi foster care system—released Mississippi Youth Voice, a set of recommendations designed to help the state take a more youth-centered approach to designing foster care services.

Mississippi Youth Voice outlines a range of recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in Mississippi as they work to improve foster care services. Specifically the report calls for: expanded access to youths’ personal documentation; a voice in decisions regarding their future; better communication with social workers; greater emphasis on maintaining and repairing family connections; and establishment of an avenue of communications for those in care who may need to make a report about their concerns.