Independent Living Skills Program

An education series offered to adolescent youth currently placed in foster homes to prepare for life after foster care. ILS, funded by Niagara County Department of Social Services, is designed to provide youth with opportunities to explore issues related to independent living in a structured and supportive hands-on setting.  Program includes practical skills such as budgeting, food preparation, etc., as well as necessary social skills such as team and group working skills.

For more information contact Kathy Bowers at or (716) 433-8839 ext. 239.

Justice for Youth

Twelve youth enrolled in the Cornell Cooperative Extensions Independent Living Skill Program, participated in “Justice for Youth, Understanding the System” for teens in foster care held at the Niagara County Courthouse in Lockport on August 31st.  Guest speakers were Mark Sanders, Lockport City Community Policing Aide, who addressed the teens with the importance of having a vision; followed by Tim Haseley, Debra Wilson and Deborah Walker DeWitt, all attorneys for children, who answered many questions, as well as gave words advice and encouragement for a better future.  The Honorable John Batt graciously opened his courtroom and office, providing the teens with educational information about the proceedings and even a chance to sit in his chair.  This was a unique opportunity for the youth to be able to talk with decision makers about what was important to them.

“Most kids in placement need to know what is happening with the decisions being made that affect their lives.  It is best to involve them in the process so they can better understand why things are being done the way they are. This also allows them to voice their opinions as to what they would like to see happen as well as what they need.

Hopefully, having the kids visit the courtroom and talk informally to the players involved including children’s attorneys and the judge makes them feel more comfortable about expressing their opinions when their case is presented for consideration.  This promotes the rehabilitative goal of Family Court.” -Judge John Batt

“Judge Batt is one of a kind. It was so nice of him to take the time to talk us. I really enjoyed the day.” -Cindy, age 17

“I was able to get a lot of my questions answered and the attorneys for children helped me better understand the process and helped me with what I should do next.” -Laurie, age 18

” I am glad that I went to the program. It was interesting.” – Mike, age 14

The Independent Living Skills Program (ILS) is coordinated by Kathy Bowers, Community Educator at CCE through a Niagara County Department of Social Services contract.