Youth and young adults who have experienced extended time in foster care are at increased risk of negative consequences once they leave care. This includes dropping out of school, unplanned parenthood, high rates of untreated illness, homelessness, criminal activity, depression and suicide.
To improve outcomes, the Independent Living Services for Foster Children (NC LINKS) provides services and resources to:
- Youth and young adults currently or formerly in foster care ages 13-17
- Young adults who are between the ages of 18-21 and are participating in Foster Care 18 to 21
- Young adults who aged out of foster care at age 18 and are not participating in Foster Care 18 to 21
Youth aged 13-21 who are or were in foster care may request LINKS services from their county Department of Social Services.
The NC LINKS Program
A youth or young adult will receive LINKS services or funding if they are a willing and active participant in the assessment, planning and service implementation. Those who refuse services can later change their minds if they are still eligible.
The youth or young adult and their caregiver must complete an assessment of the youth's strengths, as well as their needs for further information and training. Based on the assessment, a LINKS Coordinator will create a plan with the youth or young adult . This plan will include the young person’s interests, goals and their responsibilities for fulfilling the plan, which outlines services directed at helping the young adult achieve positive outcomes.
Limited funding is available to reimburse county Departments of Social Services for expenditures made on behalf of NC LINKS participants.
County Departments of Social Services are required to offer LINKS services to children and young adults in DSS custody.
If you or someone you know needs this service, please contact your local Department of Social Services and ask for the foster care supervisor or LINKS coordinator.
The Education Training Voucher Program
This program provides grants of up to $5,000 a year toward costs of attendance for college or vocational training. This program is for students who are eligible for the LINKS program and who either were:
- In foster care on or after their 17th birthday
- Adopted from foster care on or after their 16th birthday
- Entered a kinship guardianship placement from foster care on or after their 16th birthday
NC Reach is a post-secondary educational program for students who were:
- Adopted from NC foster care on or after their 12th birthday; or
- Exited foster care to a permanent home through guardianship with the support of the Kinship Guardianship Assistance Program (KinGAP); or,
- Aged out of NC foster care
Medicaid for Former Foster Care
Young adults ages 18-26 who aged out of foster care may be eligibile for Medicaid and can apply for Medicaid coverage at the county Department of Social Services where they reside.