The primary focus of any aftercare plan developed by DJS case workers is to determine where a youth will live when they return to the community. Generally, every effort is made to ensure that the youth has the opportunity to return to his or her own home with a responsible caregiver.
However, there are occasions that require DJS to consider alternative living arrangements due to certain factors such as a caregiver who is unwilling or unable to properly care for the youth or a home environment that could jeopardize the youth's health and safety.
In those situations, DJS case workers collaborate with community partners to place a youth in alternative living arrangements in their community, such as Kinship Care, Treatment Foster Care or an Independent Living Program
This alternative living arrangement involves placing a youth with responsible family member (other than a parent or primary caregiver) or close friend who lives in the community. This arrangement is beneficial because even though it has been determined that the youth's current home environment is not appropriate, this living arrangement allows a youth to live with a trustworthy adult that he or she already knows.
This alternative living arrangement is similar to foster care in that it creates a nurturing family environment but has the added feature of providing structured, intensive treatment services usually performed in facilities. When a youth is placed with treatment foster parents, they are cared for in a home environment. Treatment foster care is beneficial as a "step-down" option for youth who are ready to live in the community but still have a need for structured treatment services.
This alternative living arrangement is licensed by the Department of Human Resources for youth between the ages of 15 and 21. This type of program focuses on preparing youth nearing adulthood for living independently. Youth reside in a group home setting or supervised apartment units that are closely supervised by adult staff. Youth are required to be enrolled in school, vocational school or be gainfully employed. During the program, the youth learn about interpersonal skills, money management, job readiness, conflict management, positive leisure opportunities and communication skills.
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