4544. Responsible Living Skills Program

Service Definition

  1. Responsible Living Skills (RLS) programs provide permanent residential placements for dependent street youth aged 14-18.
    1. RLS programs provide youth with a permanent placement setting in concert with services critical for the youth's successful transition into adulthood.
    2. RLS programs employ a positive youth development philosophy that focuses primarily on promoting a youth's positive development rather than identification and resolution of problems.
    3. RLS programs may take the form of either group or single-family residential placement settings, depending upon proposals submitted for approval by individual RLS providers.
  2. “Street youth” means a person under the age of eighteen who lives outdoors or in another unsafe location not intended for occupancy by the minor and who is not residing with his/her biological/adoptive parent(s) or at his/her legally authorized residence. Typically, these youth do not have families who are available to them, and traditional placement alternatives such as foster or group care have not met their needs.
  3. RLS programs employ a service delivery model designed primarily to achieve competency in independent living skills for adolescents placed there. Specifically, RLS programs will focus on assisting youth in achieving competency in:
    1. Basic education, e.g., a GED;
    2. Job skills;
    3. Basic life skills (including but not limited to):
      1. Money management;
      2. Nutrition/meal preparation;
      3. Household skills;
      4. Parenting ;
      5. Health care;
      6. Access to community resources; and
      7. Transportation and housing options.
  4. RLS programs will also provide/facilitate group and individual counseling as is appropriate. However, RLS programs are not BRS programs; they are intended for street youth committed to stabilizing their lives. Youth referred to an RLS program should exhibit significant degrees of impulse and behavioral controls.


  1. The priority and eligibility criteria for referrals are:
    1. Dependent street youth aged sixteen to eighteen years of age, whose permanency plan is independent living.
    2. Dependent street youth fourteen and fifteen years of age, who are not succeeding in family-based foster care. Placement of youth in this age range should be with the intent of enabling the youth to make a transition from a street living situation to a more stable placement setting.
    3. Criteria are all located in statute, and therefore Exceptions-to-Policy to waive one or all of these eligibility criteria are not permitted:
      1. Any youth referred to an RLS program must have previously resided in either a Secure Crisis Residential Center or a HOPE Center; the youth's social worker may waive this requirement if the social worker feels that given the minor's current circumstances, this is the most appropriate placement for the youth.
      2. Youth must be a dependent youth under Chapter 13.34 prior to entry into an RLS program;
      3. The youth's primary and alternative permanency plan must not be Return Home.
  2. Law Enforcement Access: Youth may not be placed directly into an RLS program by law enforcement. If the youth is a reported runaway, or if law enforcement is involved due to a family-in-conflict situation, the case is handled as any other FRS case, and placement, if required, made with extended family, CRC, SCRC, or other resource as appropriate.

Procedures for Access

  1. Street youth may be identified as potential referrals to RLS program services through the following means:
    1. HOPE Center: As part of a HOPE Center's permanency placement planning function, a Placement and Liaison Specialist (PALS) may contact the assigned DCFS social worker to discuss the youth's eligibility for placement in an RLS program.
    2. DCFS Staff: DCFS staff may also identify dependent youth among their caseloads that will not be returning home and also meet the other eligibility criteria.
    3. Secure CRC: While in residence at a SCRC, the youth may be identified as appropriate for RLS program services. The SCRC would discuss the youth's eligibility with the assigned DCFS social worker.
    4. The assigned DCFS Social Worker will refer the case to their Regional RLS Program Coordinator. If the RLSP Coordinator deems the referral appropriate, the case will be discussed with the provider. The contractor, youth and the DCFS social worker will mutually agree upon a youth's admission based on:
      1. The RLS Program offers services that meet the youth's needs as identified in the Report to the Court;
      2. The youth desires to participate in learning independent living skills;
      3. The youth demonstrates sufficient behavioral control to participate and benefit from the program.