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Independent Living Program

In today's world, becoming an adult and independent can be a scary process. There are so many resources a person might need that it can be easy to feel confused or overwhelmed. It can even be difficult trying to figure out where to get started.

If you are age 14 to 21 and have been or are currently in foster care in South Dakota, the Independent Living Program can help you make plans for your future. The program provides services to assist youth and young adults with the transition from foster care into an independent living. Finding or accessing the right resources can be overwhelming.  Assistance and support for youth trying to address their needs and meet their new responsibilities is available through the Department of Social Services (DSS) Community Resource People Program.  The Community Resource People provide services and training for youth in the areas of employment, education, housing, connections, life skills and health. For more information on the Independent Living Program or any of its services, contact your nearest Community Resource Person.

Independent Living Program Brochure

The Independent Living Program provides the following services for teens and young adults who are in or have been in foster care:

Youth Organizer

A Youth Organizer is available for youth when they leave foster care. The Youth Organizer is designed to help youth gather important documents and information they need when they transition from foster care to live on their own.


Available housing is critical for a safe and successful transition from foster care to independent living. Youth may need assistance and support in finding affordable housing.  The Community Resource People can assist youth with this process in finding affordable housing. 

Conference and Workshops

Teen Conference

The Teen Conference is a multi-day event held every other summer to give youth an opportunity to learn skills and further their knowledge related to independent living. During the conference, youth stay in a post-secondary educational facility dormitory to experience what life on campus might be like.

The conference includes activities and workshops to assist with independent living skills development, inspirational speakers and social events.

Regional Workshops

Regional Independent Living workshops are held in four sites across the state to provide youth with knowledge and skills to further prepare youth for successful independent living. Pre-registration is required.

Workshop Topics Include:

  • healthy lifestyles
  • drug and alcohol prevention
  • interpersonal skills and relationships
  • learning employability skills
  • post-secondary education
  • housing and transportation
  • life skills
  • medical and personal wellness
  • nutrition
  • money management
  • career planning

Preparing for Post-Secondary Education

Preparing for what you will do after high school is not easy. An option is going on to obtain a college or technical degree.

To get started, here are a few reasons why post-secondary schooling is the right choice for what comes next in your adult life:

  • Every bit of education you receive after high school increases the chances you will earn better pay.
  • The more education you receive, the more likely it is you will always have a job and a quality career path.
  • Post-secondary education is much more important for young adults now than it was for your parents’ generation.
  • Financial aid and scholarships are available; take advantage of them and apply as soon as possible.
  • Depending upon the employer, other benefits may be available upon receiving a post-secondary education, i.e. medical insurance, paid time off, a retirement savings plan and possibly more.
  • Never stop learning. Education is a lifelong pursuit and something that no one can ever take away from you.

The link below includes information which can be helpful with making decisions and accessing information related to educational planning on such things as: how to apply for financial aid, links to post-secondary institutions in South Dakota, what to pack for college, choosing a career path and much more.

Medical Assistance for Youth Formerly in Foster Care