In 1986, the federal government launched the Independent Living Program to enable state child welfare agencies to meet the needs of youth preparing to emancipate from foster care. The initial federal funding allowed for ILSP services to be made available to youth ages 16-18 who were dependents of the county or probation wards placed out of home by the juvenile court on or after their 16th birthday. In 1999, the Chafee Foster Care Independence Act doubled the federal budget for ILSP and allowed states to extend services to eligible youth between the ages of 18-21, utilize the funds for room and board for pre-emancipation youth, and to extend MediCal benefits up to age 21. In 2002, the federal government added the Chafee Educational Training Voucher Program, funding former foster and probation youth for up to $5000 per year for higher education up to age 23 if the former foster/probation youth was receiving Chafee support at age 21.
Alameda County was one of the first counties in the state to develop an Independent Living Skills Program, opening its doors in 1987. From its inception, Alameda County ILSP has focused on education, employment, and life skills training. ILSP graduates go on to 4 year colleges, community colleges, vocational training programs, and full time employment. Over the years, a number of ILSP graduates have returned to the program as members of the staff, and currently there are seven ILSP alums on staff.