The transitional program will consist of two main elements: a program for the physical, emotional and mental preparation of becoming an adult that will be started when each girl is around the age of twelve, as well as a physical house for the girls to live in once they turn eighteen.
The preparation portion of the program will contain activities and information vital to making the transition to self-sufficiency which will include material surrounding job readiness, educational support and tutoring, time management skills, career pathway exploration, access to community resources, parenting education and skills development and education about sexual health and family planning; all of which have been deemed necessary components for a successful transitional program.
The purpose of the transitional house is to provide a stepping-stone for the girls into their adult life, so that they will not feel unprepared or abandoned when they are required to move out of the Corazon del Pastor.
All activities to be implemented within the program will include the core components of the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) model, which as of now is the only evidence-based practice that has been shown to be effective in improving the outcomes of youth and young adults with emotional behavioral disorders (EBD). Most of our girls have been diagnosed with some sort of emotional behavioral disorder, which is why we feel that the TIP model is an ideal guide for our program. It is not uncommon for children within the foster care system to have emotional behavioral disorders, yet rarely is this fact taken into account when preparing youth for adulthood. The seven guidelines of the TIP model that will be utilized throughout the program are as follows:
- Engaging youth through relationship development, personal centered planning and a focus on their futures
- Tailoring the program and services offered through the program to be accessible, coordinated, appealing, non-stigmatizing and developmentally appropriate and building specifically on the strengths of the girls to pursue their goals across relevant transition domains
- Acknowledging and developing personal choice and social responsibility when working with youth
- Ensuring a safety net of support by involving parents, family members and other informal and formal key players important to each child
- Enhancing each child’s competencies to assist them in achieving greater self-sufficiency and confidence
- Maintaining an outcome focus in the TIP system at the individual, program and community levels
- Involving parents (where applicable) and other community partners in the TIP system at the practice, program and community levels
It is also necessary to tailor the program to each individual and group that passes through the program, as many young adults in the foster care system identified the need to be a part of the decisions for their future and felt that when decisions were made without their active participation, that these decision did not take into account their personal needs. It is also a common belief amongst adolescents and young adults that their input rarely makes a difference, which often times makes them shut down and not want to participate in activities to create a better future for themselves. Thus, we will need to be attentive to in order to ensure maximum potential buy-in for the program, which in turn will make the girls’ transition more successful.
Taking the above information into account along with the specific needs of each girl involved in the program, we have designed the program to include six overarching subject areas to be covered over the six-year time period. These subject areas are highlighted below:
- Educational support and tutoring
- Preparation to enter the work force
- Time and money management skills
- Parenting/Sexual health education
- Spiritual and familial support
- Stress management