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Independent Living Program

Housing for transitional aged youth returning to the community from correctional or mental health institutions.

CJCJ’s Independent Living Program (ILP) targeted homeless or nearly homeless offenders aged 18 to 21 years old, from dysfunctional or unsafe home environments. The goal of ILP was to reduce detention populations of youth awaiting adjudication, disposition, or placement in local detention facilities. Although the program ended in 2009, it can be replicated in other jurisdictions.

The model

ILP provides housing for transitional aged justice-involved youth in furnished apartments where they can begin building all the necessary skills for independent living. During their residence, youth receive services based on their unique needs.

The ILP model operates on the principle of unconditional care. This “no eject, no reject” philosophy dictates ILP’s client acceptance and termination protocol. ILP refuses to discriminate against any youth based upon his/her individual needs. Similarly, this program’s model does not terminate services or remove a client from the program due to poor performance. Instead, the program adopts the notion of unconditional care and conducts an intervention with the youth to determine why he/she was not performing as expected.

In addition to housing, clients receive a weekly stipend and 24-hour monitoring and support. Youth work with staff to develop an individualized and comprehensive "life plan" that involves accessing the particular support services that they needed. The ILP model maintains a network of educational services, substance abuse counseling, vocational training, mental health counseling and other community-based services. Case Managers keep small caseloads and monitor the residents as they build self-sufficiency.

While working on individualized plans, the residents are also required to engage in regular life skills seminars. Taught by staff, these weekly classes feature basic living skills, like budgeting and banking, nutrition, food preparation, personal hygiene, and proper home cleaning techniques.


In response to an 8-year consent decree over conditions in the District’s juvenile detention facilities, the District of Columbia’s Youth Services Administration (now the Department of Youth Rehabilitation Services (DYRS)) contracted CJCJ in 1994 to establish the District’s first Third Party Mentoring Program. In 1999, CJCJ created the District’s first Independent Living Program for institutionalized youth, housing 13 young adults aged 17 to 21 in ILP facilities. CJCJ’s ILP was essential to local reform efforts in Washington, D.C.

After a decade of high-quality professional services in Washington, D.C., CJCJ’s ILP closed effective December 31, 2009. The model remains an important and replicable option for future implementation in other jurisdictions.

To apply for technical assistance to replicate this model program or for more information, please contact:

Daniel Macallair, Executive Director
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice
424 Guerrero Street, Suite A
San Francisco, CA 94110
415-621-5661 ext. 107

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