The Independent Living Advocacy Group (IL Advocacy Group) was formed by a group of KidsVoice staff concerned
about the lack of options for teen clients in foster and residential placements
who turn 18 or “age out” of the child welfare system without the resources to
successfully live independently. The IL Advocacy Group is devoted to creating
more and better options for our teen clients by removing the barriers which
prevent so many eligible youth from understanding and accessing IL resources such as education, housing,
public benefits and employment.
Comprised of attorneys and child advocacy specialists who volunteer their time, the IL Advocacy Group gives presentations
to youth and to residential placements and service providers about the services, rights and resources available to youth in
substitute care. The IL Advocacy group also:
-hosts an annual
for youth in placement,
-publishes a brochure as well as a about the rights of youth in substitute care and
-is coordinating a Youth Advisory Board for youth currently and formerly involved in
the Allegheny County child welfare system to inform and influence policies and
practices affecting youth in substitute care.
For information concerning the IL Advocacy Group, please contact
Bill Petulla at (412) 391-3100 or email at or
The 2008 resource fair was a great success. The purpose of the Independent Living Resource Fair
is to educate children on the various services available to them once they
leave the foster care system. This free event, highlights and provides access to services and programs available to older youth leaving
the foster care system, including post-secondary education, armed forces, housing, job training and employment services. If you are
interested in presenting, having a booth , or attending the 2009 Resource Fair please email KidsVoice at
Know Your Rights Poster
This poster is a compilation of various rights that exist for children in substitute care.
To download a
or to request a poster email .
Know Your Rights Manual
In cooperation with the and members of the
Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board the Know Your Rights guidebook has been issued.
This guidebook, which is based on Pennsylvania law, provides youth with information
about their legal rights in substitute care and about how to advocate for themselves. This guidebook
is presented in question and answer format and is designed for use by youth as well as family
members, friends, educators and service and placement providers assisting youth
in transitioning to independent living.
to download a copy. If you are a
client and would like to receive a hard copy of the
book, please email with your name and address.
Non-clients can obtain a copy of the guidebook for $5.00 by calling the Juvenile Law Center
at 1-800-875-8887. You can also download the manual at the website.
Know Your Rights Appendix
This appendix provides a list of Allegheny County Resources
to help youth that are transitioning out of substitute care. To download the Allegheny County appendix click here.
If you live outside of Allegheny County, visit
to view an of resources in your county.
Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board
The purpose of this committee of youth is to
work to improve the foster care system by giving youth a voice.
is a website devoted to children nearing their 18th birthday.
The site consists of helpful information to assist children in funding college and SAT
preparation. It also includes a link to the Youth Advisory Board, or “YAB.” The YAB
is made up of teens who are presently in group home or foster care or who
have been in placement in the past. The YAB gives presentation throughout Pennsylvania,
including the Pennsylvania legislature, on issues that effect children in group home or foster care.
Another useful tool on the independent living website is the “Know Your Rights” link which
provides an assortment of rights for children involved with Children Youth & Families.
Clicking on the link labeled “Youth 411” leads browsers to a collection of information for
employment, mental health, public benefits, housing, education and a listing of essential
documents teens need before they turn 18 years old. Lastly, the website
provides a forum for children who would like to express their
frustrations, accomplishments and questions to other teens accessing the
site. Send an email to to learn about upcoming
YAB meetings or how to join the Pennsylvania YAB or the Southwestern Regional YAB chapter coordinated by
Members of the IL Advocacy Group spoke at Conference in St. Louis on September 15, 2006
Members of the IL Advocacy Group spoke at the in Louisville on October 14, 2006
IL Advocacy Group
Coming November 2009.
If you would like the IL Advocacy Group to speak to KidsVoice clients and/or your agency staff please contact
William Petulla at (412)391-3100 or email at
In a precedent setting case
involving teen clients in foster care, KidsVoice secured
county assistance for foster children pursuing post-secondary education (from
ages 18-21) by providing ongoing case management, foster care payments to their
foster families to house the children during school breaks, and limited
financial assistance to help defray daily living expenses. In the Interest of S.J., 2006 Pa. Super 195)
Where parental support doesn’t exist for our clients KidsVoice attempts to highlight and address those needs through
innovative practice. to read the full opinion.
The Bridge of Pittsburgh
Is a one stop shop for children aging out or who have aged out of the foster care system. KidsVoice
has partnered with The Bridge of Pittsburgh and helps to provide outreach to youth. For more information
on The Bridge of Pittsburgh please