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Family Resources

What is the Oklahoma Independent Living (OKIL)Program?

The University of Oklahoma National Resource Center for Youth Services works under a contract with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS), Children & Family Services Division (CFSD) to provide technical assistance and training to youth, foster parents, and child welfare workers around the state in the area of Independent Living (IL). The program focuses on our teen population and seeks to promote the importance of early planning for one's future; to develop each individual's innate strengths; to ensure transition of young people ages 16 - 21 from state custody to self-sufficiency and successful adult living; to support youth by encouraging a multi-disciplinary approach through training of field staff, and other appropriate adults; and to develop teen targeted resources and community partnerships. NRCYS, as the single point of contact for all service requests, provides a toll-free access number, (800) 397-2945, for current and former OKDHS and tribal custody youth.

Who are the OKIL staff?
OKIL staff cover a range of counties and are located in offices around the state for a list of OKIL staff.

What youth are eligible for OKIL services?
Criteria for eligibility for OKIL services are:

  • * Youth 16 - 21 years of age who are currently in OKDHS or tribal custody and in out-of-home placement;
  • Youth who were in OKDHS or tribal custody and in out-of-home placement for nine months between the ages of 16 and 18 and have not reached their 21st birthday;
  • Youth who exit OKDHS care on their 18th birthday;
  • OKDHS youth who elect to remain in "voluntary care after 18"; and
  • Youth 16 - 19 years of age in Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) custody, and in family foster homes or specialized community homes.

What services are provided by the OKIL program?
Youth specific services by the Area IL specialists include referring eligible youth for IL services; providing IL resources; facilitating life skills seminars; training Child Welfare and Tribal staff on available services; facilitating local area youth services boards; assisting with IL activities and events; attending permanency planning reviews for eligible youth; and providing case management when needed for former custody youth ages 18 - 21. Technical assistance is also provided through this contract to eleven group homes contracted by OKDHS. A brief description of the groups and activities provided are found below.

Teen Conferences
Teen conferences are offered each year that are designed around the Ansell Casey Life Skills Assessment. This assessment is given to youth at the age of 16 who are in OKDHS custody. Young adults attend the conference with an adult sponsor, usually on a college campus, to learn independent living skills, budgeting, home maintenance and job interviewing. These conferences provide opportunities for young people and adults to network with other youth and adults in the system for a schedule of teen conferences.

Education Services
Education and career specific services of the Education Specialists consist of assessing the educational needs and career plans of youth in care and developing a plan to build community supports. Additionally, resource information is provided to alumni youth to assist with their education and career plan for more educational information and resources.

Life Skills Seminars
Life skills seminars are hands on opportunities that allow youth to learn a variety of necessary skills for a schedule of life skills seminars.

Youth Service Boards
A Youth Service Board is a group of youth and adults working together to educate the community, empower youth for success, improve the child welfare system through problem solving, promote independent living through training and resources and bridge the gap between youth and adults for a schedule of board meetings.

Adult Advisory Boards
The adult advisory boards are a collaboration between workers, foster parents, service providers, and community agencies, working together to provide information and lend support for the implementation of IL services. Adult Advisory Boards are also an opportunity for youth service professionals to network and communicate on best practice in preparing youth for adulthood. Currently, there are several regional boards, and one state board for a schedule of board meetings.

What are the resources available to eligible youth?
IL specialists can provide the following resources to eligible youth.

FYI3 Binder and Passport
These binders organize all the important things a youth will need to track future events, and maintain personal documents, information for court, education and independent living.

One piece of luggage for travel and transporting belongings.

Future Near Me/Path Before Me
Workbook focused on important questions and activities a youth needs to consider during their transition to adulthood. The Path Before Me has a Native American perspective.

What assistance can child welfare workers and foster parents receive from the OKIL specialists?
State and Tribal Child Welfare workers and foster parents can receive training and assistance on accessing available IL resources and services such as completing IL assessments, developing case plan recommendations, accessing youth development funds that support the case plan, conducting youth exit interviews, and accessing the Yes I Can! program.

Yes I Can!
The Yes I Can! program assists eligible youth who have aged out of OKDHS or Tribal care live as well adjusted, active members of the community. This support can be in the form of financial assistance as well as resource and case management provisions. Youth age 18 - 21, who are no longer in custody, can access this service toll-free by calling (800) 397-2945.

What other web resources does the OKIL program recommend?

Casey Life Skills
At this website you will find free and easy to use tools to help young people prepare for adulthood. The life skills assessments provide instant feedback. Customized learning plans provide a clear outline of next steps, and the accompanying teaching resources are available for free or at a minimal cost.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services
The Oklahoma Indepdendent Living Program is funded by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Children and Family Services Division. The Oklahoma Independent Living Program focuses on our State's teen population, promoting early planning as the important phase for their future, developing each teen's strengths and ensuring a smooth transition for young people ages 16-21 from OKDHS custody into self-sufficiency adult living.

FYI3 is a partnership web project between and the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative. The website,, provides foster youth between ages 14 and 23 opportunities to become involved, informed and independent in their transitioning journey towards adulthood.

FosterClub's mission is to provide encouragement, motivation, information, education, and benefits for foster youth. At their web sites, kids are asking questions and getting answers. They discover other successful former foster youth through the "Reach for the Stars" program, send in opinions about their foster care experience, get recognition for overcoming obstacles, enter contests (where everyone wins!), and more. Outreach tools provide child welfare professionals effective ways to communicate with youth in care. In researching and developing new products for youth in care, they employ and consult with the "experts": current and former foster kids. This collaboration brings increased value to their products and ensures youth a voice in the foster care system.

NILA is a grassroots organization that is committed to enhancing the futures of young people by promoting quality services for our most vulnerable and valuable population . . . its youth.

Phillip Roy
Phillip Roy, Inc. is a small family owned, American Company. They were founded in 1987 for the purpose of publishing educational materials for an overlooked and under served education population.

Covenant House
Covenant House is the largest privately-funded childcare agency in the United States providing shelter and service to homeless and runaway youth. In addition to food, shelter, clothing and crisis care, Covenant House provides a variety of services to homeless youth including health care, education, vocational preparation, drug abuse treatment and prevention programs, legal services, recreation, mother/child programs, transitional living programs, street outreach and aftercare.

Foster Parent Test
FCAC Online Training offers 77 courses with new topics added continuously. Oklahoma resourse families may order free of charge 12 hours of training per person from a select list. You can complete mandated training hours from the comfort of your home and online training online offers flexible hours. The courses are developed by professionals with extensive experience in the foster care arena, and most hold a Masters or Ph.D. Certificates of completion are immediately generated with the passing of 80% correct on the test at the end of each course. Certificates may be emailed or downloaded and can be printed out and presented to your agency.