Foster care systems help at-risk youth get the shelter and support they need. However, children age out the minute they turn eighteen. Aging out of foster care can be extremely challenging for these children because it’s the first time they’re on their own. That’s why adults need to prepare these people for when they have to leave the system. Otherwise, there’s no telling what will happen to them. These are curriculum on how to prepare teens transitioning out of foster care. These children need some way to prepare for the harsh realities of the real world.
The primary way adults can help children aging out of foster care is by starting early. The last thing anybody wants is for the child to be completely unprepared for the real world. So, foster parents, social workers, case managers, and all adults working with the youth need to start early by giving them more responsibilities in the household and everyday life. Although adults may not want to take away their childhood, it’s important to make sure they’re ready for whatever lies ahead. So, it’s important to delegate life skill tasks like cooking and cleaning, decision-making, dealing with conflict, healthy eating, and more to children in foster care, so it’s clear they can do it on their own.
Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of aging out of foster care is finances. These children become financially independent when they leave this system. Therefore, foster parents, social workers, case managers, and all adults who encounter foster children have to teach them how to save money while they’re under their care. Foster children should try to get a part-time job while they’re in the system, so they have money saved before they age out. However, their job shouldn’t get in the way of their schoolwork.
Another tip on how to prepare teens transitioning out of foster care is to help them focus on their schoolwork. School and college can be their ticket out of a bad situation. If they can get a scholarship, they won’t have to worry so much about the harsh realities of the world. So, foster parents, social workers, case managers, and all adults should get their foster kids tutoring and any additional support they need to be successful academically.
Adults should also introduce at-risk youth to evidence-based learning. Life skills curriculum for teens will help them emotionally adjust to the changes that are about to happen. The Arise Foundation has been helping at-risk youth prepare for this change for decades. Our sessions will help kids improve their behavior and adjust their attitudes. These programs help them get a better sense of mental well-being and understanding of who they are as a person.
A Positive Example
Children in foster care are more likely to transition poorly if they’re surrounded by bad examples. For instance, it can prove harmful to their development if they’re around abusive foster parents or those suffering from substance abuse. As a result, it’s incredibly crucial for foster parents to be positive examples for their foster children. Here are a few things foster parents can do to ensure the transition goes smoothly:
- Exemplify positive relationships. Support everyone in the household and be positive towards one another.
- Stay away from drugs and alcohol so that the foster kids know this isn’t an effective coping strategy.
- Teach them self-care, both physically and mentally, so you know that they can take care of themselves on their own.
- Teach them that challenges are an opportunity to learn, rather than something that brings them down.
- Help build their confidence, so they’re ready to take on the real world when they age out.
Show Them Federal and State Programs
Though it’s true that many things change when a child turns 18, there are federal and state programs out there to help make the transition easier. The Foster Care Independence Act of 1999 requires states to provide housing and some financial assistance to children aging out of the program. Moreover, the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2004 require children aging out of the system to have access to their birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license, and state ID before they age out. These documents will help make the transition easier and give them a better chance of success.
Help With Decision-Making
Foster parents can also help children with decision-making before they age out of the system. Adults should show youth how to make calculated decisions without rushing into things. Adolescents’ brains aren’t as developed as adults, so they’re more likely to make impulsive choices. Adults need to teach them how to fight these urges so that they make better choices when they’re on their own. This can start with adults and youth making decisions together so that the children know how to stay on the right path.
Listen To Them
Aging out of foster care is emotionally taxing. For this reason, adults need to listen to foster children and their concerns. Don’t invalidate their feelings by saying everything will be alright. Instead, help them come up with an action plan so that they’re ready to take on the real world. The things listed so far in this article will help, but it’s also crucial to understand what they’re going through emotionally and how you can help them feel better.
Children aging out of foster care are thrown into adulthood more than most eighteen-year-olds. They have to face challenges that other people their age can’t even comprehend. For this reason, adults must prepare them for whatever lies ahead. The best way to do this is to start early, by giving the children more responsibilities in the household. In addition, adults should teach them how to save money and focus on their schoolwork so that they can be more successful.
The Arise Foundation is here to help these children aging out of the system. We offer an evidence-based life skills curriculum and staff training that help teach these children how to cope with the changes that come with the transition. We’ll help them manage their anger and stress surrounding the situation and help them prioritize their well-being. We believe that every child should have an equal opportunity, despite their lifestyle. So, we want to equip them with the life skills they need to become successful and functioning adults. We have the experience to prove it.