Credit hours:

Course Summary

For youth who have been living in foster care, the transition to adulthood presents many new and often daunting experiences. This course provides foster parents with guidance on how to help youth and emerging adults build a foundation for a successful transition to adult life outside of foster care.

In this course, you can expect to learn:

  • Unique challenges youth face when exiting foster care

  • Adolescent development and changes in the brain as related to supporting youth in care

  • Laws and programs to support transition aged youth

  • The critical role of foster parents in transition planning and action

  • Tools to empower foster youth to prepare for the transition to adulthood

Step 1

Read this FosterClub Real Story written by Shawn Denise Semelsberger on aging out of foster care unprepared for the drastic transition. 

Step 2

FosterClub recommends foster youth do 21 things before they transition out of care to make sure they have a successful journey to independence. Read FosterClub's "It's T Time" to become familiar with steps foster youth should take before they leave foster care.

Step 3

Read this FosterClub Real Story written by Ricky Ballesteros, who provides valuable youth perspective about why transition planning is important.

Step 4

Review "Helping Youth Transition to Adulthood: Guidance for Foster Parents" developed by the Child Welfare Information Gateway.

Step 5

Join the discussion in the comments below to answer the following question:

When do you think a young person should begin their transition plan, and what are some important considerations as a supportive adult in their life?

Step 6

Finished the module? If you are logged in as a subscribed user, take the quiz to earn your Continuing Education Credit hours and certificate!

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Course Discussion

TheJLedQ35's picture

TheJLedQ35 said:

I think the 90 day rule should actually begin one year in advance- things like having a savings account in place cant just happen in a few short months. The early the better, really.
rocksheen219's picture

rocksheen219 said:

I think the earlier that a transition plan starts the better. The younger the teenager recognizes life skills are a necessity the better - I'd say to start around 12 or 13.
rrainey's picture

rrainey said:

It is my belief that the transition into adulthood is the same for a normal child to transition into adulthood. That age depends on the maturity of the child. Basically, I would say 11 or 12 years old. Children are different and they all need to accept and be responsible at an early age. If they are taught how to take care of their room, their bathroom , and their personal self, along with school this is the beginning of a transition. Next, about 13 the child needs to have a job related to outside of the house and create a budget on how to spend and save money. Continuing into the later teens where they become responsible for a checking account, etc. these things are very important for every child.
LOTN's picture

LOTN said:

Foster parents along with the teenager's social worker can help establish a transition plan. However, it is also up to and will depend upon the teenager's desire and ability to move out of the foster home and prosper. With resources such as Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act in 2008 and the Affordable Care Act, the transition should be orderly. Financial support including aid for education and housing until the age of 21 with Medicaid coverage available until the age of 26 allows ample preparation time. I think by the end of the junior year in high school a transition plan should be in place. It is a good idea to get any necessary documents for any foster child when possible including social security cards or birth certificates. Obviously a state-issued driver's license, checking account, and part-time work would begin at the age of 16. Around the junior year in high school the foster teenager should join the Independent Living Program. This is especially important if the teenager does perform well in school and wishes to pursue college or vocational training. Yet life skills such as health and wellness, home economics, and financial management can be instructed to any foster child. Foster children can easily practice and learn life skills from foster parents, when as a family, if they all practice or participate in that particular life skill together.
PandH Berry's picture

PandH Berry said:

The transition should begin around 13. Life skills need to be taught at an early age for them to be able to be successful at transitioning into adulthood. That transition is hard enough for youth coming from healthy and stable situations. 12 months out they need to start figuring out plans for financial independence and stabiliy
Every1Deservesahome's picture

Every1Deservesahome said:

This, to some extent, has to depend upon the individual youth. What are their strengths? How much did they already understand about what it takes to stand on your own two feet once you reach adulthood. I've always been amazed by how mature some youths are, relative to others, who really don't seem to have the ability to plan ahead at all. I've worked with youths who have been able to access dual enrollment, and others who are far less able, whose emotions run constant interference with their own dreams and goals in life. Some youths just don't want to "grow up" and rebel against efforts to provide them with work or educational opportunities. They escape into Wi-Fi and video games. Some aren't even interested in getting a learner's permit, or taking driver's ed classes. And those are the ones you really worry about. There has to be some level of motivation on the part of the youth to prepare for life once they are out of the system. I think it is very important to start broaching the topic, gently, by the time a youth is 16 or 17. They need to acquire so many different skills and abilities, if it is going to be a smooth transition. Those who have more to learn, need more time to get prepared. It is really rare to find any youth who turns 18, and is ready to be completely independent these days, many biological adult children continue to live at home well past the age of 18, because they just can't afford to be on their own--it isn't surprising that this is also true for foster youth. I'd encourage any youth, who isn't out of high school, to stay put and get their diploma, before they even think about being on their own. Ideally, they can move from foster care, into a college dorm. I think the 21 things for transitioning into adulthood, is an excellent guide!
Melgoza626's picture

Melgoza626 said:

i believe we all their is no perfect time to begin the transition plan. Since the time were are toddlers we start mimicking our parents such as wearring heels, carrying a handbag, wear a tie or a hat or having a fake phone. i had a foster child that would mimic my wife when they wend they went out to the store , my child would carry her purse, her glasses and her fake phone. So as life progresses the children should be given information on how to deal with a situation. My wife when we go groceries shopping she shows the children how to shop. She show them how to shop for the specific ingredients so when they grow up they now how to shop for food. As the child gets older let them now when a certain bill need to get paid as of small talk to give them a hint of responsibility. Then as you advance with the child will they will be more observant of what an adult does in every day life and you as a adult enlighten them with your tips and tricks to satisfy their curiosity. I promise you this is a plus for the child to become an sucessful independent adult. I hope this helps alot.
lelelala's picture

lelelala said:

I feel as though a child in care should first be given the opportunity of being a child without worry. Let them play find good supporting friendship. Be a kid and enjoy life as a child before putting extra burdens on them. When they enter high school is soon enough to begin thinking on an adult level and entering the real world.
Vendy's picture

Vendy said:

Transition plan should be talked about and practiced for a year before moving out.
CandTW's picture

CandTW said:

I believe as some others do on this board, as soon as they enter high school. I have a teen that will not age out of my home at18, but I see that there is so much to still teach her about being on her own. There are so many facets to becoming a functioning and adapting adult in society that I still feel I have a ton of work to do. We are a little late to this transition because she has mild special needs. My heart just breaks for these kids with 6 months or less of transition time.Many in Foster Care also have special needs due to drug or alcohol exposure in those situation even mild disabilities can cause complete shut downs where nothing will make it through until they are able to let it. Perhaps certain students/youth could handle a shorter period of transition. But again this would be depending on their placements involvement or another adult mentor to step in and help. It really should have a long time line because each youth has a varying ability to grasp all that they will need to do when they are on their own. It is not just those with special needs I taught Middle School and High School and non-Fostered youth become overwhelmed by all that it means to be an adult, so our Foster youth should be given a long time line, mentors and resources galore to help them advance to the next stage and not fall between the cracks of society.