NC LINKS: A program that helps prepare youth in foster care (or have been in foster care) for successful adulthood by providing support, resources, and guidance both before and after they turn 18. The name LINKS is not an acronym and therefore does not "stand" for anything. Instead, it is a word that captures the need to build a network of relevant services (links) with youth so that they will have ongoing connections with family, friends, mentors, the community, employment, education, financial assistance, skills training, and other resources to facilitate the transition to adulthood.
NHCDSS LINKS provides a variety of support to youth in and out of foster care.
Transitional Funds: Funding for youth, eligible to be used in achieving positive outcomes. Examples include tutoring, work uniforms, furnishing apartments, bicycles for transportation to/from work, etc.
SAYSO (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out): A statewide association of youth ages 14 to 24, who have been or are currently in the foster care system. Their mission is to improve the foster care system by educating the community, speaking out about needed changes, and providing support to these youth. More information is available at: www.saysoinc.org
Housing Funds: Available for rent deposits, rent, or down payments. Youth must currently be between 18 and their 21st birthday and have turned 18 while in the custody of the Department of Social Services.
Education and Training Vouchers (ETV): The NC ETV Program offers funds to foster youth and former foster youth (who must have been in custody after age 17) to enable them to attend secondary education institutions. Students may receive funding that may be used for tuition, books, or qualified living expenses. www.statevoucher.org
NC REACH: Financial assistance for youth who aged out of foster care (at age 18) or who were adopted after age 12 (if they are attending one of the NC state colleges or universities including community colleges). Funding for tuition, books, fees, housing, etc. www.ncreach.org
Medicaid: Any youth who aged out of foster care at age 18 is eligible until their 21st birthday (must apply to all programs). Apply at your local DSS or contact your LINKS Coordinator at DSS.
Resources and Referrals: Your LINKS coordinator and/or your social worker are available to assist with referrals for counseling, job applications, resume building, educational services, etc.
Contact the LINKS Coordinator Supervisor at 910-798-3619 for more information.