9 Family Connection


ORLANDO, Fla. — The Department of Children and Families offers numerous services to youth and young adults aging out of foster care. Participation in these services is completely voluntary and often underutilized. We would appreciate it if you could share information about these services with your viewers.

The Department recognizes that the transition into adulthood can be challenging for young adults. For current and former foster youth, it can be even more difficult without an existing support system. The Department recognized this and created the Office of Continuing Care (OCC). The OCC, which is a part of First Lady Casey DeSantis’s Hope Florida initiative, offers free, one-on-one help for young adults who are about to or have recently transitioned out of foster care, aiming to make the leap into adulthood a positive experience. When a youth calls the Hope Line, they will speak with a Hope Navigator who walk with them on the path to independence. In addition to peer support, Hope Line services include Independent Living support, assistance with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, tuition waiver, child care, and housing. The Hope Line number is 850-300-HOPE (850-300-4673), and it is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. (ET).

Other programs offered through the Department for youth and young adults include:

Extended Foster Care (EFC): EFC is available to current and former foster youth who turned 18 in the Department’s legal custody. Extended foster care provides continued case management services, court oversight, payment for room and board, and other services needed to ensure success as an independent adult.

To remain eligible for EFC, a young adult must be in a qualifying activity (school, employment, or working on overcoming a barrier to one of those) and a supervised living arrangement. Supervised living arrangement options include living with a licensed foster parent, in a licensed group home, transition home, host home, college dormitory, a rental home, or in their own apartment and must be approved by their Community-Based Care Lead Agency.

EFC gives eligible young adults the option of remaining in foster care until the age of 21 or until the age of 22 if they have a qualifying disability. A young adult can opt-in and out of EFC until their 21st birthday.

Post-Secondary Education Services and Supports (PESS): Young adults participating in PESS receive a stipend of $1,720 per month to cover housing and other related expenses while they are pursuing a postsecondary education. PESS also provides continued transitional and financial planning that will include assistance in meeting their current and future needs.

Young adults remain eligible for PESS until they turn 23, relocate out of the state, are not making academic progress through the institution, or are no longer enrolled in a postsecondary institution. To be eligible for PESS, a young adult must meet the statutory criteria available here: https://www.myflfamilies.com/services/child-family/independent-living/youth-young-adults/postsecondary-education-services-and

Aftercare: Aftercare is a temporary program intended to provide youth with a safety net. Services provided in Aftercare include mentoring or tutoring, mental health services, substance abuse counseling, life skills classes, parenting classes, job and career skills training, counselor consultations, temporary financial assistance, financial literacy skills training, and emergency financial assistance.

Aftercare eligibility ends at the age of 23 years old. To be eligible for Aftercare a youth must meet statutory criteria available here:  https://www.myflfamilies.com/services/child-family/independent-living/youth-young-adults/aftercare-services.

You can also find more information about our Independent Living Programs and the Office of Continuing Care by visiting Independent Living | Florida DCF (myflfamilies.com).

Additionally, there have been several legislative initiatives to expands services for young adults that the Department was proud to champion and now implement.

Step into Success is a new workforce development program designed specifically for foster care alumni aged 18 to 26. This twofold approached combines professional development training and a paid internship experience to equip participants with the skills they need to thrive in the workforce.

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