Arizona law allows youth 17 and older to participate in independent living programs. There are still regulations that need to be followed while they are in the program. Here is a breakdown of what is required in A.R.S 8-521:
A. The department or a licensed child welfare agency may establish an independent living program for youths who are the subject of a dependency petition or who are adjudicated dependent and are all of the following:
1. In the custody of the department, a licensed child welfare agency or a tribal child welfare agency.
2. At least seventeen years of age.
3. Employed or full-time students.
B. The independent living program may consist of a residential program of less than twenty-four hours a day supervision for youths under the supervision of the department through a licensed child welfare agency or a foster home under contract with the department. Under the independent living program, the youth is not required to reside at a licensed child welfare agency or foster home.
C. The director or the director’s designee shall review and approve any recommendation to the court that a youth in the custody of the department be ordered to an independent living program.
D. For a youth to participate in an independent living program, the court must order such a disposition pursuant to section 8-845.
E. The department of child safety, a licensed child welfare agency or a tribal child welfare agency having custody of the youth shall provide the cost of care as required by section 8-453, subsection A, paragraph 9, subdivision (b), item (iii) for each child placed in an independent living program pursuant to this section, except that the monthly amount provided shall not exceed the average monthly cost of purchased services for the child in the three months immediately preceding placement in an independent living program.
F. The department shall adopt rules pursuant to title 41, chapter 6 to carry out this section.
H. The local foster care review boards shall review at least once every six months the case of each youth participating in the independent living program.
I. The department shall establish an educational case management unit within the division consisting of two case managers to develop and coordinate educational case management plans for youths participating in the independent living program and to assist youths in the program to do the following:
1. Graduate from high school.
2. Pass the statewide assessment pursuant to section 15-741.
3. Apply for postsecondary financial assistance.
4. Apply for postsecondary education.
J. The department shall prepare a report on or before March 1 of each year that contains the following information for the previous calendar year:
1. The number of children in the program.
2. The number of children in the program by age and grade.
3. The number of children in the program by county of residence.
4. The number of children in the program who graduated from high school.
5. The number of children in the program who received a general equivalency diploma.
6. The number of children in the program enrolled in postsecondary education.
K. The department shall submit a copy of the report prescribed in subsection J of this section to the governor, the president of the senate, the speaker of the house of representatives and the secretary of state.
Thank you for your great question! If you have questions, send them to #youaskedfa or Kim@fosteraz.com