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Important Documents


There are certain important papers and information that everyone needs to help them obtain jobs and scholarships and to assist with other areas of one's life as an adult.

Transitional Independent Living Plans (TILPs)

Federal and state laws require your county social worker (or probation officer) to help you obtain what you need when you emancipate from foster care. These things are included in your Transitional Independent Living Plan which must be prepared with your input when you are about 16 years old. The TILP is part of your case plan and should be updated and then reviewed by the juvenile court judge at permanency hearings every six months as long as you are in foster care. The documents and information listed below should be part of your TILP as needed.

Important documents you need when you leave foster care are:

  • Your birth certificate. For details and links about this important document, go to Birth Certificates.
  • Your Social Security Card. For an excerpt from the Social Security Administration, click on Social Security Card or go directly to the Social Security Administration website.
  • A letter proving that you were a dependent or ward of the court. This is necessary if you plan to apply for college grants, emancipation stipends, and other resources). For details about this, go to these links to read All County Letter Nos. 02-45, 07-33 and 07-33E;
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) documents if you are not a legal resident of the United States. This status is critical if there is any chance you might be an undocumented person. Since obtaining this status takes a long time, click on the SIJS link for detailed procedures and assistance.
  • School, immunization and medical records (possibly including your Health and Education Passport); and
  • A Driver License or official Identification Card issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (click on link for more information);
  • Background and contact information on your siblings and other family members;
  • How to file an application to have your juvenile court records sealed after you emancipate (go to Dealing with Courts).

If your county social worker or probation officer doesn't help you obtain these documents before you emancipate from foster care, you can still obtain the documents after you are on your own. For help with this, click here to find your county Independent Living Coordinator.

For assistance with any important documents,
other Information, or with finding relatives,
call the Office of the Foster Care Ombudsman
at 1-877-846-1602.