Transitional and Independent Living Opportunities

Transitional and Independent Living Opportunities

Intake and Admissions Criteria


Cunningham intake staff members will complete an assessment prior to the youth being admitted. This includes a thorough review of written materials and interviews with referring agencies, the potential client and his/her parent(s)/guardian(s).

Demographic Criteria

Transitional Living Program (TLP) 
  • Age 17 ½ to 21
  • DCFS Youth in Care
  • Goal of Independence
Independent Living Program (ILO) 
  • Age 19 to 21
  • DCFS Youth in Care
  • High school diploma or GED
  • Goal of Independence

Goal of Permanent Independence

Family-related functioning will not impair client's ability to seek gainful employment, continue educational goals or live successfully in an apartment or living situation.

Educational Direction and Goals

Cunningham Children's Home understands that many youth entering transitional and independent living programs have given up on their educational plan. The staff will provide support, guidance and direction to help these youth reestablish an individualized educational program and goal. Youth are expected to actively work toward their educational goals.

Demonstrate Day to Day Independence

Youth entering the ILO/TLP program must be able to function independently of regular adult supervision with sufficient impulse control and the ability to manage their daily activities, employment, education and social interaction. 
Youth on long term medication must be able to safely monitor their medical condition and take medications as prescribed and keep them in their possession. 
If a youth comes to Cunningham with a background of criminal and/or oppositional behavior and/or unresolved emotional issues, the staff will link them to relevant services within the community to assist them as they develop in their independence. Youth are expected to use community services as part of their programming.

Employment and Vocational Goals

Youth entering the ILO/TLP programs may arrive without a prior work history or marketable skills. Cunningham staff members will help the youth gain vocational experience and move into entry level work. Youth are expected to actively work toward their employment goals.

Unacceptable Criteria

Youth who exhibit the following specific physical, mental, developmental or functional impairments (emotional and behavioral problems) would not be effectively served in the Transitional or Independent Living Program at Cunningham Children's Home: 


  • youth who have psychiatric care and psychotropic medication needs that require the dispensing of medication on a daily basis;
  • youth who have severe drug or alcohol issues which require residential treatment or  whose primary diagnosis is substance abuse;
  • youth who have a habitual history of running away or significant risk behaviors while on run or have been out of placement {elopement/whereabouts unknown} for 90+ consecutive days; 
  • youth who are risk of harm to themselves or others as demonstrated by recent or repeated suicidal behavior, self-injurious behavior, aggressive behavior or other clinical indicators;
  • youth who require daily, 24-hour supervision to ensure safety;
  • youth who have been placed outside the IDCFS central region and are at a distance from their only sources of social support;
  • youth who have an IQ below 70 and are unable to be employed due to cognitive deficits;
  • JSO youth moderate or high risk to reoffend; JSO youth with a safety plan requiring 24-hour supervision or limitations on their employment or community functioning; or youth requiring specific JSO treatment;
  • youth requiring registration as an adult sexual offender;
  • youth who have a conviction of arson, diagnosis of Pyromania, or who have participated in fire setting behavior within the past 36 months that willfully caused property damage and/or bodily harm;
  • youth who have a recent history of psychosis or other psychiatric disturbance which would compromise their ability to live in an independent apartment setting;
  • youth who due to emotional disturbance or physical disability lack a basic self-care skill which would compromise their ability to live independently (i.e., encopresis, eating disorder, or other self-care related issues);
  • youth who have exhibited multiple actions of purposeful, physical harm to others within the past 6 months and demonstrate the inability to bring self back under control by requiring physical restraint, as evidenced by UIRs and/or court or police records, etc.; and
  • youth who have been psychiatrically hospitalized in past 6 months.
For more information about Transitional and Independent Living Program admissions, contact the Intake/Admissions Coordinator at 217.367.3728.