I am wondering if folks have any thoughts about the process of youth in care transitioning out of the child welfare system; specifically, I am looking to hear ideas / perspectives on what might be missing in terms of this process and what has been working successfully. Any responses would be greatly appreciated!
This is something that many child and youth agencies struggle with. My suggestion is that when a child is admitted a disengagement plan is developed, much as an IPD and care plan. One of the important aspects of transition should be the involvement of family and or community. Building support structures around the child is also important.
Hi: I highly recommend a recent article by Gillian Schofield and Mary Beek entitled "Growing up in foster care: providing a secure base through adolescence"; published in the Child and Family Social Work Journal (August 2009). Provides a useful theoretical model for understanding the needs of children (in care and otherwise) as they transition from adolescence to adult life. Abstract is below.
As the UK Government White Paper, Care Matters: Time for Change, suggested, foster children need the care system to provide them with good quality foster family care that will help them through childhood to success and fulfillment of their potential in adult life. This paper draws on the third phase of Growing Up in Foster Care, a longitudinal study of 52 children in planned, long-term foster care (1997–2006). It aims to increase our understanding of the transformational power of foster family relationships over time and particularly in adolescence. It shows how a secure base parenting model, using concepts from attachment and resilience, can be applied to foster care of adolescents. The paper uses case material to demonstrate each dimension of this secure base model and to emphasise how, even when adolescents have had stable and effective placements, they are likely to need support through into adulthood.
After my experience I've noticed that on a practical level, we provide access to coaching services for the corporate sector when people are starting out with their own business or are experiencing problematic times in their business. I see no reason why professional coaching programs are not readily available for these transitioning young people. Coaching is not care but assisting in moving forward with very specific goal oriented programming with real time results. When the young person sees results life just has a way of providing positive reinforcement. Just my opinion.
As further resources:
The National Youth in Care Network www.youthincare.ca is a resource for youth and former youth in care as a way to connect and keep connected as these are often the only "family" that a young person may be left with. There is an alumni in this organization.
Provincially, there is a great resource for youth up until 25 who are looking to keep connected, in Ontario at www.ontarioyouthcan.org
I have done some advocacy and research re: youth transitioning out of care and would love to share some resources of the impacts of extended care (past 18 and past 21) as well as some resources for youth.
If you are not from Canada, these provide great advocacy and research templates...no need to reinvent the wheel!
The types of resources and supports are ready available in each province/region and when you hone down the specific area :)
Good luck :)