Independent Living

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Welcome to VHBG’s Independent Living program

VHBG’s Independent Living (IL) is for young people ages 17-25 who are eager to learn how to live independently but are facing housing instability due to life circumstances. Knowing that relationships are the first step to overcoming the effects of trauma, each young person in IL works directly with an IL caseworker who provides support and encouragement. Our IL caseworkers guide young people on their path to independence through effective relationship-building, supervision, coaching, counseling, and service planning. The majority of these young people come to us with little experience managing day-to-day tasks and VHBG teaches them how to depend on themselves while providing them with a safe, affirming, and stable place to live with a housemate or house-mates during this transitional period in their life. VHBG meets the needs of young adults through two approaches to Independent Living services:

  1. VHBG’s Independent Living Arrangement is a program licensed by the VDSS for young people who are transitioning out of the foster care system ages 17-21 and is coordinated with Fostering Futures, which provides some funding. They may be single or they may be pregnant and/or have their young child(ren) residing with them in the program.
  2. VHBG also provides Independent Living for young people ages 18-25 who are not connected to VDSS but are facing homelessness due to a variety of challenges and need short-term temporary housing. In the first seven days, IL participants will set benchmark goals with their caseworker to achieve stable housing. Each benchmark achievement potentially allows for 30-day extensions as needed to find them stable housing. We have an affinity group for young adults who identify as LGBTQ+ on our campus called Pride Place at VHBG. We’re able to designate housing exclusively for LGBTQ+ youth if needed and if available.  We’re accepting of youth with multicultural backgrounds who speak different languages. We have experience with youth from other countries.

Our dedicated staff believes every youth who walks onto our campus is destined for success regardless of the experiences of their past. Knowing that relationships are the first step to overcoming the effects of trauma, each IL youth works directly with an IL caseworker who provides support and encouragement. Our IL caseworkers guide youth on their path to independence through effective relationship building, supervision, coaching, counseling, and service planning. The majority of our youth come to us with little experience managing day-to-day tasks and we teach them how to depend on themselves. Some youth in our ILA program may be pregnant and/or have their child(ren) residing with them in the program. They may be single or they have children. They can have no more than two children residing with them and child(ren) must be below the age of 6.

If you have questions or want to make a referral contact Michael Rodriguez at 804-270-6566, ext. 1380 mrodriguez@vhbg.org 

 

Karen Swansey
Executive Director, ILA

Karen Swansey, M.S. is the Director of Independent Living. Karen has worked with children and families for nearly 30 years in a variety of settings and different populations. Her work has included Behavior Support Technician in locked hospital residential programs and group homes, Case Manager and Therapist for juvenile sex offenders, Intensive Juvenile Probation Officer, Director of Juvenile Drug Treatment Court, Local and Statewide Program Director for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and several positions with Virginia Home for Boys and Girls. At Virginia Home for Boys and Girls, Karen has held the positions of Admissions and Marketing Manager, Assistant Director of Quality Assurance and Compliance, and Director of the Independent Living Arrangement. She enjoys being an agent of change for youth and their families and is inspired by the hope found by clients through our services. Her daily mission is to help others move from surviving day-to-day to living full, happy, and productive lives. Karen is excited about the new and innovative opportunities VHBG’s Independent Living Arrangement is offering to the young adults aging out of traditional foster care. Karen brings immense passion and energy to her work and strives to improve the lives of the young adults we serve and the greater community.

Click here for our brochure

Click here for Independent Living Arrangement Program Details (for youth aging out of foster care).
Independent Living Arrangement Program Details

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