Independent Living: A Brief History

DHS began informal Independent Living services in the late 1970s and early 1980s as a result of the realization by Child Welfare workers that many youth were remaining in care up to, and even beyond, the age of 18. Early services focused mainly on obtaining documents needed for independence such as birth certificates, photo identification and medical history information.

A New York City lawsuit alleging that custody youth were not being prepared for successful adulthood was an impetus for the appropriation of federal funds for IL services in the mid to late 1980s. These appropriations allowed Oklahoma to begin building its own Independent Living program.

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