Pictured above is Nick Sykes smiles ear to ear with his new braces made possible through the ILP-ODHS partnership.

Nick Sykes smiles ear to ear with his new braces made possible through the ILP-ODHS partnership.

The CCS Independent Living Program (ILP) recently received a grant from the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) Child Welfare division to provide dental and orthodontic care to 25 ILP youth. “This is life changing for many of our youth and young adults, especially those who have aged out of the foster care system,” said Shandi Hill, ILP Program Supervisor.

Assisting youth with this primary but often neglected need was a long-sought goal for ILP program staff. “ILP staff see orthodontic care as transformative,” says Shandi. “A healthy, confident smile helps their developing sense of self-esteem, which is crucial to their well-being and mental health.”

As a testament to the impact of the ILP program in the community, ODHS funded this grant request above and beyond the proposal request, which was to fund five youth for braces. ILP staff, called Personal Agents, have begun identifying youth who would benefit from orthodontic services. Once identified, ILP staff support youth in any way needed to access care and complete treatment. Youth are expected to communicate their needs to orthodontic professionals thus practicing their help-seeking skills.

To date, all youth receiving care under the new program have reported that this care has made a very positive impact on their lives. Two who are now in braces had needed them for more than five years. The costs had been too high even though they had both been saving money to pay for them out-of-pocket.

CCS has been providing Independent Living Program services since 1985.  ILP is a program for youth ages 14-23 who are transitioning to adulthood from foster care. Youth are taught skills that will help prepare them to live independent, successful lives. ILP Personal Agents assist youth in identifying and accessing programs, services and resources such as medical and dental care, housing assistance, community work programs and academic supports. ILP Personal Agents also provide guidance in how to care for basic needs and how to resolve problems and issues in a positive, productive manner. Each ILP participant can attend as many classes as they choose. Classes range from housing, nutrition, and money management to social skills, college preparation and job search skills. In 2022, CCS ILP helped 110 youth transitioning out of foster care.