Independent Living

Apartment with soft chairs, dining table and chairs, kitchen area with cabinets, stove, and refrigerator

Apartment Living Program

Like all high school students, VSDB students are excited at the idea of independent living at college or in the community after graduation. But for them it may pose additional challenges compared to other populations.

Our ILA (Independent Living Apartments) program is designed to help older students build the skills and confidence they need to optimize their potential through

  • Fostering highest level of independence possible for the individual
  • Real-world apartment living experience in a safe environment
  • Personalized assessment, skill-building, and instruction
  • Enhancement of personal strengths in independent living
  • Addressing areas of needed improvement

Program Overview

Nine-week ILA experience: Five apartments located in Price Hall, on the VSDB campus, are “leased” on a nine-week rotating basis. Students receive just the right amount of support to take full advantage of this unique learning opportunity.

Apartment living: Each participant resides in one of our fully furnished apartments, including a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. A common area is shared with other program participants.

Adult supervision: At all times when apartments are occupied, an adult supervisor is on site in the building and available to provide support and advice.

Instruction tailored to individual needs: In the first week, a pre-assessment is conducted to inform instruction and determine level of support appropriate for each participant.

Before moving into their apartments, students take a class on independent living. They learn about landlords and leases, how to budget, and what supplies and equipment they need to maintain their household. They go shopping to buy cooking and cleaning supplies.

Then, throughout the nine-week program, structured instruction targets skills specific to managing life in an apartment setting, such as menu planning, shopping, cleaning, personal safety, managing finances, and solving problems.

The goal of the program is to help students be as independent as possible. Supports are provided according to student need, as assessed by the classroom teacher and supervisor.

Evaluation: Students are evaluated on level of independence achieved, areas of strength, and areas of needed improvement, which provides valuable information for continued transition planning and individualized support.

Girl in hoodie arranging food on a baking sheet

Hands-on Experience

Hands-on, day-to-day real life experience is the best teacher and facilitator of effective independent living skills.

  • Moving in and setting up an apartment
  • Shopping
  • Meal preparation
  • Managing money
  • “Paying” for rent and utilities
  • Maintaining an orderly and clean apartment
  • Engaging with the broader community

 

Unique Opportunity in Virginia

Opened in 2017, VSDB’s Independent Living Apartments provide the setting for the first independent living program of its kind for high school students in Virginia. To create the program, VSDB converted an older residence hall into the five Independent Living Apartments with financial support from the VSDB Foundation.