“The first thing we look for is another relative. If that doesn’t work out we have several other possibilities.” – Tammy Miles, Caseworker
A Baltimore City Department of Social Services caseworker is assigned to every foster child. Their initial goal is to find a place for you to live in a safe and nurturing environment. First, they try to find a family member who can provide a home. If that doesn’t work out, foster homes are considered. Group homes may also be an option. Finally, for older foster youth there is an independent living program or a semi-independent living arrangement that may be an option.
- Formal Kinship Care
If you cannot stay in your home, BCDSS will try to find kin (a family member or close family friend) to care for you. A BCDSS case worker will visit you at least once a month. Kin may become licensed as foster parents. Your caseworker will help the family with that process.
- Foster Homes
If you are not placed with kin, you may be placed in a foster home. You would live with an adult or family who have been licensed. Foster parents have to attend training and have their homes approved by BCDSS. Foster parents have their own caseworker and receive financial assistance each month to help them care for the children in their home. Your BCDSS caseworker will visit you at least once a month.
- Shelter Care
Sometimes it is necessary for you stay in shelter care placement for a short time (up to 60 days) while BCDSS finds a placement that meets your needs. Shelter care placements are licensed by the state and usually serve a small group of children and youth at any given time.
- Group Homes
You may be in a short-term placement with a number of other youths in a group home that has been licensed by the state. Group homes are staffed 24-hours a day and the youths in these facilities are the same gender and of similar ages.
- Residential Treatment Centers (RTC)
RTCs are short-term, licensed, 24-hour residential facilities that provide youth with therapeutic supports and services.
- Independent Living Programs (ILP)
Independent Living Programs provide older foster youth with the opportunity to practice living independently while being supervised by a state-licensed ILP program. Youth in ILP may live in shared apartments and typically attend college, high school, trade schools, or engage in another training preparation program. The ILP program may also require you to attend classes or seminars to help you prepare for adulthood.
Semi-Independent Living Arrangements (SILA)
- SILA Application
You can get a SILA application and information packet from your BCDSS case worker, your attorney, or you can call the Ready by 21 program at 443-423-5056.
The Semi-Independent Living Arrangements (SILA) program gives foster youth the opportunity to practice living independently while being supervised by BCDSS. Youth in SILA can live in a variety of settings including renting a room, living in their own apartments or staying on campus in a dorm. Each month, SILA youth receive a check from BCDSS to help cover living expenses.
- To be eligible for this program, you must meet the following requirements:
- 16 to 20 years old
- Sufficiently mature
- Demonstrate an ability to manage money
- Continually enrolled and regularly attending school or vocational training
- Have a goal of self-sufficiency
- Maintain employment
- Agree to and maintain the terms of a service agreement
- Able and willing to contribute to the cost of semi-independent living
- Do you know about Aftercare Services?
If you were in foster care until age 18 and are currently under 21 years old and need housing or other assistance, you may be eligible to receive financial assistance for room and board from the DSS in your area. If you are interested in applying for Aftercare Services, contact your caseworker.
- Getting your own place?
Before you even start looking, think about these questions from the National Independent Living Association: www.nilausa.org