Independent Living

Maryland Independent Living Services

Maryland Independent Living Services or Ready By 21 Services are available to youth ages 14 to 21 in out-of-home placement and are designed to prepare youth to transition from foster care into self sufficiency. Youth participate in transitional planning with a focus on the development of basic life skills; building connections to community resources and enhancing personal and professional networks of support. Each of Maryland’s twenty-four local departments of social services has an Independent Living Coordinator (ILC). Independent Living Coordinators assist youth and their case workers with all independent living services in the following domains:

  • Housing
  • Health Care
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Financial Literacy
  • Social and Emotional Well Being

Semi-Independent Living Arrangement

The purpose of the semi-independent living arrangement (SILA) is to provide youth an opportunity to learn and practice independent living skills and activities while receiving services from the local department and provider agency. Youth are eligible to receive a SILA through the local department of social services (LDSS) upon meeting the following criteria:

  • Between 16-21 years old;
  • Continually enrolled in and regularly attending school or vocational training or is working at least 80 hours per month;
  • Agrees to the requirements of the independent living service agreement;
  • Needs help in transitioning to self-sufficiency; and
  • Is capable of contributing to the cost of living through:
    • Earned income through employment
    • Income through scholarships, stipends, grants, work study, Social Security, or any combination.

Youth not meeting the requirements listed above may be eligible for participation in a semi-independent living arrangement if the youth has a documented disability in living skills and the youth’s case plan documents how the youth’s disability can be accommodated in a semi-independent living arrangement. Please contact your local department of social services for more information and to apply for SILA services.

Independent Living After Care Services

Independent Living Aftercare services are available on a voluntary basis to youth 18 to 21 years old who were formerly in foster care. Independent Living Aftercare services are designed to support eligible youth in their effort to achieve self-sufficiency. Services are provided through the local department of social services in the jurisdiction where the youth resides. Independent Living Aftercare care services are considered time limited interventions and may include financial assistance to purchase goods and services; referrals for counseling, employment, education and medical assistance. Please contact your local department of social services for more information and to apply for services.


  • Exited out-of-home placement after their 18th birthday, but have not attained the age of 21 or exited via adoption or relative guardianship after their 16th birthday;
  • Need continued help in making the transition to self-sufficiency; and
  • Participate in the development of a service agreement and sign and comply with its terms.

Enhanced Aftercare Services

Enhanced After Care allows former Maryland foster youth an opportunity to re-enter foster care through a voluntary placement agreement so that they can continue learning and practicing independent living skills. Youth in enhanced aftercare are eligible for all services provided to youth in out-of-home placement. Please contact your local department of social services for more information and to apply for services.


  • Youth was in the care and custody or guardianship of a Maryland local department of social services on his/her 18th birthday;
  • Youth left foster care prior to age 21;
  • Youth is not older than 20 yrs 6 months at the time of application for enhanced after care voluntary placement services;
  • Youth cannot have exited foster care due to reunification, adoption, guardianship, marriage, or military duty; and must agree to enter into one of the following within 30 days of signing the agreement
    • Completing secondary education or a program leading to an equivalent credential; or
    • Enrolled in an institution which provides post-secondary or vocational training; or
    • Participating in a program or activity designed to promote or remove barriers to unemployment; or
    • Employed at least 80 hours per month; or
    • Incapable of doing any of the above described activities due to a medical condition.

State Youth Advisory Board

The State Youth Advisory Board, MYLIFE, is an organization that brings together foster youth from around the state to work for positive change in the foster care system. The State Youth Advisory Board works to advise programs, organizations, government agencies, policymakers and other individuals and groups using their collective voice to educate, advocate and empower youth in foster care in Maryland. Please contact your local Independent Living Coordinator for more information.

Tuition Waiver and Education Tuition Voucher for Foster Care and Former Foster Care Youth

The Maryland Tuition Waiver for Foster Care Recipients provides financial assistance to foster care youth who are enrolled in an academic or vocational program at a Maryland public college or university. Youth must be enrolled in school before age 25. Youth are eligible for the tuition wavier if they reside in an out-of home placement at the age of 18; or if the youth was placed into guardianship or adopted after the age of 13; or resided in an out-of home placement for at least 1 year after their 13th birthday and returned home to their parents. Younger siblings of youth who were placed in guardianship or adopted after the age 13 by the same family may also receive this benefit. Please contact your caseworker or the Independent Living Coordinator at your local department of social services for more information and to apply for the Maryland Tuition Waiver.
Maryland’s Education and Training Voucher Program is administered by Foster Care to Success and provides youth in foster care up to $5000 annually for full time; and up to $2500 for part time enrollment in college or vocational school. Foster care youth are eligible to apply for ETV if they are currently in an out-of-home placement or were placed into guardianship or adopted after the age of 16. Please contact your case worker or Independent Living Coordinator for more information. Visit the ETV website to submit an application.

Additional Information about Independent Living Services and Social Media Links: