Creating Successful Transitions for Foster & Transition Age Youth

By Moisés Barón, Ph.D.

While reaching 18 years of age is commonly thought as the time when an individual becomes an adult, for many, if not most youth with special needs, the need for structured support and guidance does not end as they reach this milestone.

The data is clear: foster youth and emerging adults with mental, emotional and behavioral disorders experience poor educational and employment outcomes.   Fragmented services and limited access across adult programs and systems of care further complicate transition for this population and their families.

The San Diego Center for Children recognizes that in order to create change and accomplish more impactful outcomes, a new approach to transition is required – and so our Successful Transitions program was developed.  Our approach is all encompassing, holistic and involves:Successful Transitions for Foster & Transition Age Youth

  • A new paradigm that identifies all relevant dimensions in need and support (e.g. education, employment, housing, health and mental health, access to services)
  • A comprehensive assessment of the youth’s needs, core competencies and supports
  • Developing an individualized, youth-centered Transition Action Plan, driven by the youth themselves in coordination with family and other relevant resources, with clear goals in the areas of education, career and housing
  • Identifying the resources necessary for the youth to succeed, as well as access to the guidance and coaching needed to implement the plan
  • Involvement in an Independent Living Skills curriculum (e.g. how to create a budget, interview for a job, work readiness, secure housing, or advocate for his/her needs)
  • Access to an electronic database of transition resources
  • Partnerships with adult services to facilitate smooth transitions and enhance access to needed supports

We are diligently working on developing all of these components and have piloted this new, and now copyrighted methodology, with more than 60 youth across our programs.  Our vision is that every transition age youth (TAY) who is served by the Center will exit our services with the hope, tools, and support they need to thrive into adulthood.

How can you help:

It’s truly time that as a community we recognize the need to rally together to create the integrated processes, systems and holistic methodology to help all youth succeed.  An investment in these efforts to benefit San Diego’s most vulnerable youth will reap great benefits, not only for the families at the Center, but also to our community at large.