The IL program is designed to support eligible* young adults transitioning from out-of-home care. Broadly, the eligibility criteria for the Independent Living program services are:
- Adoption after the age of 16;
- Chapter 48 guardianship after the age of 16; or
- Exit from a court-ordered qualifying placement type at age 18 or older.
Our team works with you in a way that builds on your strengths, talents, unique interests and needs to move you toward the goals you've set for yourself.
How We Can Help
Do you want to continue your education? We can connect you to high school completion programs, college and technical training programs.
We'll help you plan for your career with goal setting, job prep, job leads and coaching to help you get the job and keep it.
We can connect you to supportive services to help you adjust to living independently like transportation, childcare, basic necessities, healthcare and financial management.
Youth Advisory Council
The Youth Advisory Council (YAC) began in 2015 and consists of current and former foster care young adults. Members advocate and educate governmental systems and the public on issues surrounding the foster care system. YAC's mission is to inspire change through education, advocacy and awareness and to improve the image of youth by addressing foster care issues. YAC members begin on regional councils but have the ability to become members of the Statewide Council.
Important Things to Know
The Education and Training Voucher (ETV) is also called the Brighter Star scholarship in Wisconsin. It’s here to help with higher education expenses for eligible youth up to age 23.
How much Brighter Star funding can I get?
- Eligible youth can receive up to $5,000 per academic year up to their school’s total cost of attendance and is based on available funds.
- You must work with your IL Coordinator to apply for the Brighter Star award each semester. Funding is not automatically applied to your school-related costs.
- The award cannot exceed your cost of attendance.
- Generally, the award is disbursed in two increments (up to $2,500 per semester) per academic year.
- Typically, Brighter Star funding is applied to your school directly to pay tuition, fees, room/board and other authorized charges. In some cases, ETV funds can be paid to you directly. Consult with your IL Coordinator for more information.
What can Brighter Star funds be used for?
We know education needs vary. Some things that Brighter Star can be used for are: tuition, housing, school supplies, computers, childcare costs, transportation, computers, and books.
How do I apply for Brighter Star funding?
- You must apply for Federal Student Aid via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form every year. Financial aid awards (e.g. Federal Pell Grants) will be applied to the cost of attendance before ETV funding can be applied to educational costs.
- You must also be ready to provide proof of enrollment in an approved school or program and other documentation as requested.
- You will also need to meet with your IL Coordinator to complete a scholarship request form.
What should I do to maintain my ETV scholarship eligibility?
- You accept responsibility for doing what is needed to maintain funding. This includes being responsive to your IL Coordinator, meeting required deadlines and/or providing needed documentation.
- You must maintain good academic standing; academic remediation plans may be required.
Contact a staff nearest you to learn more. If you're not located in these counties, check out this map from the Department of Children and Families for a contact near you.
*Call or text
*Eligibility for certain Independent Living services is based on age and amount of time placed in out-of-home care (OHC). Visit the State of Wisconsin's Department of Children and Families IL page for details.