Independent Living Program
What is the Independent Living Program?
Through a national study of homeless people throughout America, it was discovered that 90% of these homeless people had been in Foster Care or an out-of-home Placement Facility at some point in their lives. To curb this problem, the Independent Living Program was created to teach life skills to youth, who may not have had the opportunity to learn them in placement settings. In a nutshell, IL teaches every skill necessary for youth to successfully live on their own, in their own (or shared) apartment, with a job, and to be socially productive and interactive.
Who is eligible for IL?
Any youth between the ages of 16 and 21 years-old who are or have been in placement (Foster Care or RTF) on or after their 16th birthday are eligible for program consideration. All Potter County program referrals must pass through the Children & Youth Department and/or the Probation Department.
What are some benefits of IL program participation?
Aside from learning the skills necessary to live on their own, program youth can receive stipends (cash!) for completion of an assignment or general program participation. Clothing, financial help with school (tutors, books, fees), basically anything that a youth needs can be purchased via IL. Transportation is often provided to appointments, events, and wherever a youth might need to go, in conjunction with purposes of the IL program and as availability exists for the Program Coordinator. $5,000 is available for any IL youth who decides to attend college. Many other perks exist to encourage and assist youth on their road to independence.
What is a Mentor?
A mentor is a special person willing to share life experiences, support goals and encourage youth and help them develop life skills. Mentoring is a responsible, caring, structured one on one relationship, which focuses on the needs of the young person. This type of supportive and nurturing relationship helps the young person develop to their fullest potential by allowing them to dream and believe in themselves.
Will I have enough time?
The average mentor will put in a minimum of one hour each week with their young person. This weekly commitment may come in larger or smaller doses, but is required to form a meaningful relationship between mentor and mentee. Consistency is also an important concern. That is why we ask for a one year commitment from the mentor.
What are the mentor requirements?
Persons interested in becoming a mentor must be 21 or older, possess a valid driver's license, have transportation available, be willing to have a background check, and preferably be a resident of Potter County. A mentor should enjoy spending time with young people, as well as have the ability to accept and relate to young people who may not share the mentor's lifestyle and values.
How will I know what to do?
Regular meetings are held where orientation, training and supportive services are discussed. Group activities are held regularly where mentors, mentees and their families can get together and meet others involved in the Mentor Program. Program staff are always available for on-going support and assistance.
Who would qualify as a Mentee?
Many young people qualify for our program. The young person must be between 7 and 18 years of age, a resident of Potter County and at risk of not reaching their fullest potential. If you know of a child who would benefit from a one-on-one relationship with a mentor please contact the Program Coordinator.
How are the Mentors and the Mentees matched?
A staff member will be reviewing the mentor and mentee applications to make the best possible match. The match will be based on interests, personality, gender, and location.