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Promoting Independence and Self-Sufficiency

All young people, and especially those who have spent time in the child welfare system, need to connect with individuals who believe in them and key resources that are available to them.

As a parent to every youth in our care, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services is responsible for understanding and meeting each youth’s needs. This is true whether a youth moves quickly into permanency, stays in the system a year or more, or does not achieve permanency and must look toward independence and self-sufficiency.

Need help or want to know more?
For more information, read the Get Goal'd HandbookGetting There Tip Sheets, Moving to Adulthood handout and list of items every youth should have when leaving care.


Service Provider IDentification and Exploration Resource (SPIDER)
The Service Provider IDentification and Exploration Resource (SPIDER) is a free, comprehensive service resource database for youth and families in Illinois. SPIDER connects you to nearby organizations offering programs and services to support children and families, including detailed information on more than 1,700 agencies and over 4,200 social service programs. All agencies and programs are geo-coded to allow you to locate resources near your preferred location.

SPIDER provides detailed information on agencies and programs that offer mental health services, caregiver support, educational advocacy, vocational and employment training, mentoring, enrichment programs like leadership development and after school programs and much more. To begin using SPIDER, click here: To learn more, read the SPIDER brochure in English or en español.

Family Advocacy Centers – Foster Care Alumni Services
Family Advocacy Centers are now accepting referrals for former youth in care under the age of 30. Youth who are aging out may also be referred for after care and will be added to the program upon emancipation. FACs will serve as a one-stop shop for information, connections and support to help alumni maintain stability in the community.

To access a list of Family Advocacy Centers by zip code or your location, visit the Service Provider IDentification and Exploration Resource (SPIDER) website at

  • Enter your zip code or an address
  • Select “Maximum Distance” from the dropdown
  • Click “Locate Address”
  • Click on “Keyword”
  • Type in “Family Advocacy Center”
  • Click “Search” and scroll down to see the listing of FACs nearest you

For more information, read the Alumni Foster Care Services brochure and poster.


Supporting Emancipated Youth Services Program
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible for an emancipated youth to return to the care of DCFS. To be eligible, the youth must have been in the care of DCFS (have a closed case); be between the ages of 18 and 21; and not currently a ward of the court or have a petition for adjudication of wardship pending on his or her behalf.

A youth is not eligible to participate in the program if his or her case was closed because he or she achieved permanency through reunification, adoption or private guardianship.

For more information about the Supporting Emancipated Youth Services program, services provided to youth and other eligibility requirements, call 800-232-3798.


Foster Care Transition Toolkit
The U.S Department ​of Education released the Foster Care Transition Toolkit to inspire and support current and former foster youth pursuing college and career opportunities. The Foster Care Transition Toolkit includes tips and resources intended to help foster youth access and navigate social, emotional, educational and skills barriers as they transition into adulthood. While the toolkit is written for foster youth, it's also meant to be a resource for caseworkers, caregivers, teachers and mentors to help foster youth. This toolkit was developed in partnership with the U.S Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Transportation and Labor, in addition to youth, alumni and practitioners involved in the child welfare system.