Independent Living

For  those wishing  to  email someone immediately
with questions or referrals,

Welcome to VHBG’s Independent Living program

A program for youth transitioning out of the foster care system ages 17-21 who want to learn how to live independently

Please watch this video to hear about our Independent Living programs and contact Michael Rodriguez at 804-270-6566, ext. 1380 

if you have questions or want to make a referral.

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 ILA youth works directly with an ILA
caseworker who provides support and encouragement. Our ILA 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.

We’re an affirming place to live, learn, and work and have experience caring for LGBTQ+ youth. We’re able to designate housing exclusively for LGBTQ+ youth if needed and if available.  We’re accepting of youth with multi-cultural backgrounds who speak different languages. We have experience with youth from other countries.

independent living arrangement
ILA has helped me attend high school so I’ll graduate soon. I’m able to keep a good relationship with my daughters and my family. I’m learning how to have a housemate and figure out how to handle the challenges of everyday life.

We offer independent living skills coaching related to education, employment, transportation, nutrition, money management, self-care, and social relationships. We assist our youth with a wide array of tasks and details of everyday life, from making a doctor’s appointment to opening a bank account to disputing a bill. We teach them how to advocate for themselves. We help our youth graduate from high school and enroll in college. We help them secure short-term jobs and provide long-term career counseling. Most importantly, we give them belief in a bright future.

Our townhouse apartments are located on our 30+ acre campus that is centrally located in Henrico, Virginia just minutes from downtown Richmond. The Metro-Richmond area was ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the best places to live in America. With close proximity to colleges, employment, health care, shopping, and entertainment, the area offers public transportation and a walkable commute to jobs.

Our highly individualized Independent Living Arrangement supports youth in achieving success as independent adults by offering these housing and support services to young adults who desire to reach successful independence.

Highlights of the program:
-An Independent Living Arrangement in townhomes on VHBG’s campus (includes rent, food allowance, and utilities)
-Case Management
-Assessment of independent living skills (using the Casey assessment) and necessary training/coaching with the Casey Curriculum according to service plan in these areas, as needed
-Support with day-to-day living as needed

Karen Swansey
Executive Director, ILA

Karen Swansey, M.S. is 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.
Independent Living Arrangement details

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