Each of the 3,000-plus children and young adults KidsVoice represents every year has unique needs. On this page, we have compiled a list of resources for our clients, care givers, and all those who want to learn about organizations, programs, and benefits that can help provide a safety net of care, stability, and support for youth in Allegheny County.
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- select a topic from the dropdown menu to see all items in that category (i.e. - Child Care and Parenting, Employment)
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Independent Living & Transition Age Youth
Independent Living programs help current and former foster care kids, ages 14-24, who are considered transition age youth, develop the life skills they'll need to successfully live on their own and transition to adulthood.
In Allegheny County, your CYF caseworker will make the referral for IL services at age 14. You will start by discussing your plans for your future and then you will receive services that will help you achieve your goals. You'll also receive an Educational Liaison who can help you with your plans for furthering your education.
If you're over 16 and living in a supervised independent living (SIL) program, you will receive your IL services at your placement and be assigned a YOUTH COACH from the 412 YOUTH ZONE. If you live with a relative other than your parents, or in a foster home, you will also be assigned to work with a YOUTH COACH from the 412 YOUTH ZONE.
Everyone over the age of 14 should be referred to an Educational Liaison who will help you obtain school records, research educational options after high school, take you on college tours and to college fairs, assist with college applications and help you fill out financial aid applications.
The 412 Youth Zone welcomes young adults, 16-24, that are transitioning out of the foster care system and are eligible for independent living services or are experiencing housing instability.
It is a safe and welcoming one-stop center where programming focuses on life skills, medical and behavioral health, education, housing counseling and workforce development. Its free health clinic offers physicals for work, school, and driver's licenses; women's health services; gender and sexual development; tuberculosis screenings; and treatment for cuts, colds, and more!
The 412 Youth Zone is a place where you can feel a sense of fun and belonging. The 412 Youth Zone goal is to help youth become independent, self-sufficient adults.
The 412 Youth Zone is located at 304 Wood St (Wood Street Commons) 6th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Please call 412-902-4068 for additional information. More info available at www.auberle.org/the-412-youth-zone
Action Housing improves lives through provision of affordable and supportive housing and supportive services programs in Southwestern Pennsylvania. Youth, age 18 and older, who are active with CYF can apply for an apartment with the recommendation of the Educational Liaison or Transition Planner in collaboration with the CYF caseworker. The County will pay rental and case management fees to Action Housing. The youth will be expected to “bank” 30% of their earnings in a secured, joint account. To learn more about this program, including eligibility, see the attached information sheet.
If you are an adjudicated dependent who spent 30 or more days placed outside of the home after your 14th birthday, then you have the right to receive independent living (IL) services! This is true even if you left care on or after your 16th birthday. You can even continue to receive IL services until your 24th birthday. Sometimes, this is referred to as "aftercare" or "aftercare IL services."
If you have moved to (or are going to move to) a different county or state, you can also receive IL services in those areas.
To see if you're eligible for aftercare services and to reconnect with those services, contact your KidsVoice team: 412-391-3100.
You are eligible to order one free copy of your credit report, from each of the three credit bureaus, every 12 months. Free credit reports are available through Annual Credit Report. To get your credit report, fill out the attached PDF and follow the instructions for mailing it in. You can also find information online, www.annualcreditreport.com
Auberle’s Employment Institute prepares young people for careers on its two campuses in McKeesport and Northside.
It is a UPMC POWRR (Partnership on Workforce Readiness and Retention) community partner. This means that The Employment Institute offers special classes to help prepare individuals to be hired by UPMC. POWRR classes will help you choose a career path at UPMC, prepare for the interview process and develop skills to keep your job at UPMC. UPMC is the largest employer in the region with over 20 hospitals and 400 outpatient sites to work at.
See the Employment Institute Program Overview (PDF) below for general information about the program. Learn about options at the Northside campus on the Northside Employment Institute Flyer (PDF).
To see a full list of current program offerings, visit auberle.org/employment-institute.
Auberle and Partner4Work present paid vocational training opportunities in a number of industries, including environmental remediation, construction and the trades, healthcare, and automotive tech. To be eligible, students must be Allegheny County residents, 18-24, and have been part of the juvenile or adult justice system. Programs include GED/HSE and transportation assistance. See Career Pipeline Program Flyer (PDF) below for more information.
The Employment Institute’s Career Pathways Program provides young adults (ages 16-24) facing barriers to employment, such as parenting, low-income, involvement in Justice System, or unemployed, with the skills needed to find employment and build a pathway to a successful career. See Career Pathways at Employment Institute Flyer (PDF) for more information.
- Employment Institute Program Overview (PDF)
- Northside Employment Institute Flyer (PDF)
- Career Pipeline Program Flyer (PDF)
- Career Pathways at Employment Institute Flyer (PDF)
The conciliation process is a meeting where your KidsVoice case team sits down with representatives from the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Children, Youth and Families (CYF) law department to look at your individual situation. They'll determine what kind of support you need to succeed while you're attending your course of instruction full time. You should come and participate in the meetings! The conciliation process is not about CYF or DHS paying your tuition! Securing financial aid for your course of instruction is your responsibility.
Some examples of post-secondary education programs include:
- traditional 4-year colleges (in state or out of state)
- community college, two-year associate colleges, junior colleges
- specialized post-secondary education programs for clients with mental health or intellectual disabilities
- technical programs, trade schools
- apprenticeship, job training programs.
You'll also need to provide other relevant information about your current situation and what it is you think you need to succeed, so make sure to ask about this. We have included some documents below to help address our clients' most common questions:
Where Can I Live?
As a part of your conciliation consent order, the order will state where you are placed. Some clients will be commuting to school from their foster home or group home. Other clients will reside on campus and will return to a designated individual or placement during times when the dormitories are closed. See attached document below to find answers to common questions about living arrangements during conciliation.
Open Conciliation Order vs. Closed DHS Contract
What are the differences between an open conciliation order and a closed DHS contract? Find out what these terms mean, and the differences between the two, in the attached informative PDF.
Terms of Conciliation Consent Order
What are the terms of my conciliation consent order? Learn more details about what your order means in the attached document.
Terms of Department of Human Services Contract
What are the terms of my Department of Human Services (DHS) Contract? Learn more details about what your contract means in the PDF below.
- Where Can I Live? Common Questions and Answers (PDF)
- Open Conciliation Order Versus Closed DHS Contract Differences (PDF)
- Terms of Conciliation Consent Order (DOC)
- Terms of DHS Contract (PDF)
Why should I run a credit check, anyway? If you have questions about credit scores, please see the attached document, which answers questions regarding reasons for obtaining a credit report and what your credit score means.
Before you leave care, you'll need a transition plan, which should contain as much detail as you can to ensure that you're prepared when you leave care. It's also a good idea for your transition plan to include assurances that you'll have any important information and documents that you will need for jobs, education, housing, and more. The resources attached below will help you better understand what important documents you may need, as well as instructions and forms that will help you obtain some of them:
Document Checklist for Leaving Care
A printable checklist is attached below to help you make sure that you have the documents and information you will need for life milestones like jobs, education, housing, and more. Some examples of items listed include identification, educational records, a credit report (if over 18), health records, proof of citizenship, and more. This list may not cover everything you will need, though, so be sure to check with your caseworker or attorney.
Social Security Card Application
Complete an application for a Social Security Card and present a recently issued document to show your identity (a driver's license, passport, employer or school ID card, adoption record, military ID card, or other document that establishes your identity). You may bring your application with you in person, or send the application with identifying documents to your local Social Security office. There is no fee for obtaining a replacement Social Security card. To find the Social Security office nearest you, call 1-800-772-1213. A PDF of the application is below.
Application for State ID Card
Any Pennsylvania resident who is at least 10 years old can obtain a state Photo ID. More info available on the DMV website. An application for your initial State ID card is below.
How to Get a Copy of a Birth Certificate
The following people may request a birth certificate:
- Person named on the birth certificate, who is 18 years of age or older (if under 18, immediate family member must apply)
- Legal representative
- Parent / step-parent (A step-parent or step-child is required to submit parents' marriage record supporting their relationship)
- Brother / sister / half-brother / half-sister
- Grandparent / great-grandparent (specify maternal or paternal)
The birth certificate may be requested in person (Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm) at:
Division of Vital Records
411 7th Avenue, Suite 360
Pittsburgh, PA 15219-1973
You will be required to complete an application for a certified copy of a birth certificate available below, online, or at the Division of Vital Records.
You must present valid government-issued photo identification. Examples of acceptable identification are a state-issued driver's license or non-driver photo ID with requestor's name and current address. There is now a $20 fee for each certified copy of birth. Check or money order should be made payable to Vital Records.
For kids born in Pennsylvania, send completed application to:
Division of Vital Records
101 South Mercer Street Room 401
P.O. Box 1528
New Castle, PA 16101
You may now request a birth certificate online from the Pennsylvania Department of Health. In addition to the $20 fee for certified copies of the birth certificate, a $10 service charge will also be charge on online applications. Visit Health.PA.Gov for more information.
- Document Checklist for Leaving Care (DOC)
- Social Security Card Application 2019 (PDF)
- Pennsylvania State ID Application 2021 (PDF)
- Birth Certificate Application (PDF)
Feel confident going into your job interview. Dress for Success provides women with clothing for job interviews, as well as assistance with the job interview process. Learn more about current services at pittsburgh.dressforsuccess.org
KidsVoice and the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) organize the Independent Living Resource Fairs. The goal of these fairs is to introduce kids who are either currently in care, or whose cases have closed, to the wide variety of programs and services available to connect youth to important and valuable resources for the transition out of care and into living independently as an adult.
These free events give kids the opportunity to hear presentations from and talk with people from organizations that provide important transition programs and services in areas such as:
- Child care
- Public assistance
- Job training
- Employment services
- Health care
To learn more about these opportunities, please speak to your KidsVoice team, Educational Liaison, or 412 Youth Zone.
If you have transitioned or are transitioning out of foster care and are under the age of 25, Job Corps may be a good choice for you. Please see the three attachments for more information!
- Job Corps for Foster Care Youth Flyer (PDF)
- Job Corps for Foster Care Youth Brochure (PDF)
- Job Corps Eligibility Checklist (PDF)
Trying to find steady employment but nervous for the interview? It happens to everyone! In Job Interview Do's and Do Not's, learn more about good and poor interview etiquette.
LifeSet is a program from Pressley Ridge that gives young adults the support and guidance they need to make a successful transition to adulthood. Support areas include housing, mental and physical health needs, employability, and life skills.
They primarily work with at-risk youth and young adults leaving the foster care, juvenile justice, and mental health systems. LifeSet specialists meet with participants at least once a week and are available 24/7 to help the young adult. Young people typically participate in the program for 6-12 months, based on their needs. Since 1999, Youth Villages LifeSet has helped more than 9,000 young people aging out of state custody or other care arrangements successfully transition to independence. More info available at www.youthvillages.org/services/lifeset
Services designed to nurture, protect and strengthen families. These centers are community based and respond to the needs of the individuals that make up that community.
Each center offers a number of different services, which may include any of the following: parenting education, child development support, parental support groups, drop-in centers, transportation, goal planning, medical support, prenatal care support, community referrals, and many more. Many resources will be helpful for young families living independently.
Please see the list of centers attached, which includes addresses and contact information, for the one closest to you.
Do you know what career you want to go into? If not, that's okay! Here's a tool for career exploration and job analysis: www.onetcenter.org/tools
The goal of the Opportunity Passport is to help young people leaving “the system” to...
- Become financially capable
- Gain experience with the banking system
- Amass assets for education, housing, health care and a few other specified expenses (see attached document!)
Through the program, participants will earn money to attend eight classes about credit, credit cards, finance, budgeting, and more, PLUS it will match dollar for dollar savings up to $5,000 to go toward important life expenses.
Eligibility Requirements: Youth who are Independent Living Services eligible and ages 14-23 can take part in the Opportunity Passport
Email Youthopp@alleghenycounty.us or call 412-442-8998 for more information.
Pittsburgh's Financial Empowerment Center (FEC) offers one-on-one, professional financial counseling as a free public service. The FEC helps clients take control of their debt, deal with debt collectors, improve their credit, create a budget, save, connect to safe and affordable financial products, and much more!
- Financial Economic Center Flyer 2020 (PDF)
- Schedule a Virtual Session with Financial Economic Center Flyer (PDF)
A basic fact sheet on how to apply for public assistance and the types of public assistance that may be available to you is attached below.
Did you leave CYF and change your mind? Do you need help now? If you left foster care and your court case closed when you were 17¾ years old (90 days prior to your 18th birthday) or older and you are currently under 21 years old, you may be eligible to re-enter care under certain circumstances. This is also referred to as "resumption of jurisdiction" or "reopening" your case.
There are many reasons why a formerly dependent youth may want to re-enter foster care, including:
- Youth is experiencing unstable housing (living on the street or in a homeless shelter or "couch surfing")
- Youth has physical and/or behavioral health needs that are not being met
- Youth is not able to meet his/her basic and daily living needs
- Youth has no support system or resources
Re-entering foster care can give you a place to live, health insurance and other services you may need until you turn 21 years old or are ready to live on your own. This support can help you meet your goals for education, employment, saving money and even connecting or reconnecting with your family.
For the court to reopen your case or resume jurisdiction, you need to be doing or agree to do at least one of the following activities:
- Completing high school or an equivalent program
- Enrolled in a post-secondary or vocational program
- Participating in a program that will help you get a job or
- Working at least 80 hours per month.
If you are unable to do any of the above activities because of a medical or mental health condition, you may still be eligible to re-enter foster care.
If you are interested in re-entering foster care and/or have questions about re-entering care, please contact your former attorney/ guardian ad litem at KidsVoice (412-391-3100), your former CYF caseworker and/or your current and/or former IL caseworker.
SITY is the Department of Human Service’s Youth Advisory Board. All members have system experience. SITY consults on policy and practice improvements related to youth and young adults across the Department of Human Services.
The board focuses on 3 things:
1) Being learners: Members receive trainings and opportunities to grow professionally and as advocates.
2) Community leaders: Members are willing to volunteer or share their experience strategically to better their communities.
3) Advocates: Members learn how to strategically share their experience in a way that will support youth who are currently in our systems.
What’s in it for the members?
All members are paid $10/hr. for their time.
Access to trainings that will help them grow professionally.
Will be able to have a part in policy and practice improvements across DHS.
Ability to network and meet new people.
Must be 14 and not older than 23 years old. (Age out at 24)
Must have some system experience.
Able to commit to Zoom meetings on Tuesdays from 4:30p – 6pm.
How to join?
1) Fill out the SITY application and Code of Conduct, found on the SITY webpage
2) Email application to YouthOpp@alleghenycounty.us
3) Come join one of our meetings to check it out!
4) Meet and Greet with the Board
5) Welcome to the board!
Become a speaker with the Speakers Bureau for a series about reducing the number of foster care youth in congregate care. The series provides experiences and education for youth and current and potential foster families, by youth.
The core areas of focus are:
- Youth Leadership and Advocacy
- Empowerment and Communication
- Develop and Maintain Forever Connections
- Enhance education for potential future & current foster families
- Bring youth voice to the forefront with system partners.
To learn more, contact: YouthOpp@alleghenycounty.us
Do not let past involvement in the juvenile or adult justice system stand between you and a career. The Strive Program at the Employment Institute offers paid trainings, nationally recognized certifications, career counseling, and job opportunities.
Learn and Earn is a six-week summer job program for teens and young adults ages 14-21 in the Pittsburgh region. Participants have the opportunity to earn money, gain valuable work experience, and develop soft skills to help them become college and career ready. Learn and Earn is made possible through a partnership between Allegheny County, the City of Pittsburgh, and Partner4Work, with support from local foundations.
Before you leave care, you should FIRST decide if you want to continue in care until you're 21 and SECOND have a concrete and realistic transition plan (also called a discharge plan) before you leave care.
What's a transition plan?
A transition plan is designed to explain in detail the transition services you'll need as you move—"transition"—from the foster care system to life outside of the system as an adult (at age 18, or up to 21). In Pennsylvania, it must be documented on your Transition Plan that you have been informed of your right to request to remain in care until age 21.
Youth are eligible to request to remain in care until age 21 if they are:
- Completing high school or an equivalent program
- Enrolled in a post-secondary or vocational program
- Participating in a program that will help you get a job or
- Working at least 80 hours per month.
If you are unable to do any of the above activities because of a medical or mental health condition, you may still be eligible to remain in care.
Your child welfare agency should work with you to develop your plan, but you should be the one leading the process. Your transition plan must include specific options on housing, health insurance, education, local opportunities for mentors and continuing support services, work force supports, and employment services. The law requires that your plan be made at least 90 days (about 3 months) before you leave care, but it's best to begin work on your transition plan a year or two before you think you'll leave substitute care.
This hands-on music creation program includes weekly and individual coaching by music artists in a virtual studio, plus monthly Facebook discussions on class and student progress. It is open to all CYF and IL youth aged 14-24. It is being offered through a collaboration between Creative Life Support, CYF, and the county's Youth Support Partner Unit.
Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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