CHOICES, Inc. uses a best practice, reality-based approach that is guided by current research and focuses on behavioral change for youth through a multi-disciplinary team. Service Plans, developed with input from the youth and the other Treatment Team members, are individualized and strengths-based. CHOICES, Inc. supports informed decision making by the youth as appropriate to their functioning level and ensures that youth have the opportunity to be involved in decisions that impact their future and services they receive.
CHOICES, Inc. operates the Independent Living Program with the philosophy that youth in substitute care, ages 17-21 can benefit from the experience of being responsible for maintaining their own households, in an apartment, while receiving support in the form of caring, nurturing, and teaching adults. CHOICES, Inc. IL program personnel provide such supportive services in order to help youth meet their physical, emotional and educational needs.
Referral & Placement Process
CHOICES, Inc. contracts with various child placing agencies within the Miami Valley area. When a youth is referred to CHOICES for Independent Living services, an interview is scheduled, which includes a CHOICES worker, the youth being referred, the placing agency worker, and at least one support person for the youth.
The interview allows for the exchange of information. First, the youth and key individuals in the youth’s life are informed of the exact expectations and operation of the Independent Living Program. Second, the CHOICES staff is able to gauge a youth’s readiness for the level of independence the program offers. Decisions for entry into the program are made on a case-by-case basis.
Scope of Services
The program is designed to help youth learn the self-sufficiency skills they will need to be able to live as a productive adult member of society following their emancipation from the program. The staff makes every effort to place them in a living situation that they will be able to maintain once they are emancipated and discharged from the IL Program. Many skills areas are assessed including:
- Managing and budgeting money
- Educational skills and reaching educational goals
- Employment skills
- Decision making skills
- Health maintenance skills—including food preparation and storage and medical care
- Identification of and access to community resources
- Housing related issues
The IL staff are expected to have at least weekly contact with the youth in their apartment. This allows the staff the ability to monitor the condition of each youth’s apartment and spend individual time working with each youth on developing skills in areas they specifically need assistance. Bi-monthly group meetings are also facilitated by the IL staff for the youth focusing on life skills in which the majority of the youth need instruction.
Upon successful completion of the program, the youth can continue to reside in the apartment if the lease is in their name. The youth may also keep all the furniture and household goods provided at placement. They also have the opportunity to accumulate money in a savings account by abiding by the rules of the program and helping to pay their bills. Upon successful completion of the program, they will receive any money that has been saved during their time in the program.
While CHOICES, Inc. is unable to provide continued financial support to a youth after they are discharged from the IL Program, each youth leaving the program is informed that they are able to continue to participate in CHOICES, Inc. life skills groups, or request instruction, or assistance with employment or health referrals or other assistance as needed. Furthermore, financial incentives are available to youth who continue their education.
Each youth leaving the IL Program for any reason is given a directory of community service organizations as well as information about services available to them from local county public child welfare agencies.