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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.

Youth Hotline: 800-232-3798

The Youth Hotline is available to handle complaints, concerns, inquiries and suggestions made by youth served by the department. Youth may call the number above or submit their questions via email. For more information about how the Advocacy Office helps youth in care, read the Advocacy Office Youth Services brochure in English.

Need help or want to know more?

For more information, read the Getting there Tips Sheets in EnglishSpanish and Polish, 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.

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.