LINKS (formerly known as Independent Living) and the Phoenix Project in Mecklenburg County
Include services for youth in foster care who are between the ages of 13-21. LINKS was developed to help teach life skills so that aging out youth can be self-sufficient once they are out of the foster care system
- Youth are encouraged to participate in Soft Skills programming from ages 13-15 to expose them to goal setting, self-esteem, vocational exposure, and leadership development.
Once the youth turns 16, they are required to complete an independent living assessment, continue with developing skill, and more activities geared toward employment preparation, financial literacy, housing, educational planning, and developing a personal support network.
Youth adopted after the age of 12 are also eligible for LINKS services.
Young adults, ages 18 thru 21 may remain in foster care on a voluntary placement or CARS agreement if approved by the agency’s Director.
There are LINKS funds to assist with education for youth, housing, and other assistance to enable the youth to live independently.
Youth are encouraged to maintain contact with the LINKS worker assigned so they can monitor their progress and provide services as needed.
The following programs and services are provided:
Soft Skills Group:
Soft Skills Group is offered at least twice a year for 13 to 15 year old and focuses on issues particularly critical to this age group such as communication, interpersonal skills, healthy relationships, making positive choices, and sexuality.
Life Skills Group:
Life Skills training is offered three to four times per year for youth 16 -21 years old and focus on topics such as employment, transportation, housing, money management (which includes check writing, checking/saving accounts, etc), meal planning and preparation, community resources, education, vocational training, interpersonal skills, auto buying, car insurance, health insurance, military, and a host of other services/opportunities for them.
Vocation week includes a week of trips to a variety of employers in Charlotte to allow youth the opportunity to see different careers options. The youth are able to speak with various professionals about their careers and inquire about the day to day work operations, salary ranges, and the educational background needed to achieve a career in the field of their interest.
Independent Living takes a host of youth to tour various colleges within North Carolina.
Independent Living also offers assistance with educational planning for high school juniors and seniors. Services include things such as: referrals to alternative education programs, reviewing graduation requirements with each child, helping the youth to research post high school educational and vocational opportunities, assists students with registering for standardized college admissions testing, college applications, and scholarships.
Job Corps Tour:
Independent Living takes three to four trips to various Job Corps sites in North Carolina. The tours allow the youth the opportunity to see a free education and training program to help them develop a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.