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February/March 2002Vol. 3, No. 2Independent Living Programs in Oregon and California Give Aging-Out Foster Youth Support

Youth aging out of foster care in Portland, Oregon, and Alameda County, California, may find the transition to independent living a little easier thanks to a couple of programs designed to give foster youth guidance, support, and assistance.

The Powerhouse program in Portland is a collaborative partnership of public, private, and faith-based organizations that provide funding, administrative services, and vital links to other potential partners in the local community. Powerhouse provides foster youth with housing solutions, community support networks, education and health services, and other components essential to successfully transitioning to independent living.

The housing program developed by Powerhouse includes a variety of options to address the individual needs of the young adults in the program. Housing options include:

  • Host homes where young adults rent a room in a family home
  • Community homes housing no more than five young adults and a resident assistant
  • Shared housing in which two or more young adults share an apartment or house (next level of independence)
  • Apartments.

A Youth Advisory Committee provides guidance with program and policy development. There is an Independent Living Program that offers foster youth classes on basic independent living skills, social skills, obtaining financial aid for college, and guidance for employment and career development. In addition, each young adult is assigned a service coordinator with whom they develop an individualized transition plan.

Generally, young adults ranging in age from 18 to 22 are served, but several were 17 when they became involved in the program, and services may be given to young adults over 22 if it's deemed necessary. To date, 36 young adults have received transition support or services through Powerhouse.

In California, the Alameda County Independent Living Skills Program (ILSP) offers aid to foster youth transitioning to adulthood. Started in 1987, the program helps foster youth age 16 to 21 with education, employment, and housing. The program has seen extensive growth and it now serves more than half the eligible youth in Alameda County.

In order to extend services to youth older than 21, the ILSP Auxiliary program was started. The ILSP Auxiliary is a non-profit organization funded by grants from the city of Oakland and other private foundations. The ILSP Auxiliary program offers foster youth assistance with grants of up to $1,000 to help them with their first month's rent and security deposit.

For more information about these programs, contact:

Street Address: 1912 SW 6th Ave., Suite 120, Portland, OR 97201
Mail Address: PO Box 751, Portland, OR 97207-0751
Phone: 503-725-4040
Fax: 503-725-4180
email address for information:

Alameda ILSP: Alameda County Social Services Agency
Department of Children and Family Services, Administrative Offices
1106 Madison Street
Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: 510-271-9180
Fax: 510-271-9189

Related Items

Search previous issues of Children's Bureau Express for articles related to independent living by typing "independent living" into the Search box (

Visit the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect Information for a copy of Title IV-E Independent Living Programs: A Decade in Review. (Note: this is no longer available.)