Foster Youth as Young Adults
Foster care is supposed to be a temporary provision of care and shelter for children who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or exploitation while their families receive services toward the goal of reunification.
However, scores of children and youth find themselves growing up in foster care, without permanent families or lifelong connections. Many children in foster care experience multiple “placements” and numerous youth remain in the foster care system until they reach age 18 (youth are now able to stay in care up to age 21, if they meet participation criteria, due to the passage of AB 12) and are no longer eligible for foster care aid, a process known as “aging out”. Many will have attended a number of schools, resulting in academic struggles and upheaval. They have no consistent group of people to call friends and family, and have lost contact with those important to them. They have no permanence in their lives.
Youth who do age-out of the foster care system are often lacking the social, emotional, and financial support families typically offer to young adults, and many face serious challenges. Often unable to overcome these challenges on their own, these youth are over-represented in the populations of young adults who are homeless and a disproportionate number of former foster youth become incarcerated, face early pregnancy, are poorly educated, or lack skills for employment and self-sufficiency.
Tehama County CWS believes that all children are entitled to permanency, and the child welfare system is obligated to ensure this. To this end, CWS aims to make sure that no child leaves foster care without a lifelong connection to a caring adult and the skills and preparation for successful self-sufficient adulthood.
Independent Living Skills Program
The ILS program is designed to provide foster youth ages 16-18 and former foster youth up to age 21 with education, support, assistance, and guidance in achieving success as an adult. Youth receive case management, skills education in areas like home management, banking and budgeting, job attainment and retention, and other independent living areas. Tehama County CWS contracts with Northern Valley Catholic Social Services for these services. Through NVCSS the youth are also able to participate in the Adopt-A-Family and Adopt-A-Grad programs operated by that agency.
There are two transitional housing programs available to current and former foster youth –
Transitional Housing Program – Plus (THP-Plus) is for youth, ages 18 to 24, who have already aged-out of the foster care system. Befitting their age and legal independence, the THP-Plus program is structured in such a way as to allow for maximum autonomy, while providing guidance, support, and ensuring the safety and well-being of participants and their program peers.Transitional Housing Program- Plus Foster Care (THP+FC) is for youth, ages 18 to 21 who remain under juvenile court jurisdiction in extended foster care (made available by the passage of Assembly Bill 12). These youth are known as non-minor dependents (NMD). THP+FC is modeled closely after THP-Plus. For more information on THP+FC, click here.
Children First Foster Family Agency operates the THP-Plus and THP+FC programs for Tehama County CWS. Youth must be active in ILP and working towards the goals of a Transitional Independent Living Plan (TILP) to be considered for these programs. Referrals are made to the programs through the ILP Coordinator, in consultation with the youth’s social worker for those still in foster care.
Foster Youth Education
Youth in foster care too often face academic challenges in addition to, or perhaps as a result of, the turmoil they experienced in their family’s home and the upheaval of being placed into foster care and then subsequently experiencing multiple placements and thus school changes.
In recent years, legislation has been passed to ensure that education is a key consideration for social workers and others involved in a youth’s life. CWS is mandated to make every effort to keep children in the school they were attending at the time they were removed from their parents’ care.
For more information on these mandates please click on the items below:
Tehama County CWS also works in partnership with the Tehama County Department of Education Foster & Homeless Youth Services program to ensure that the educational needs of foster youth are met and that the youth are given every opportunity for academic success!
For more information on foster youth education and resources please visit the California
Foster Youth Ombudsman website.