A Path to Independence For Foster Youth

a path to independence

Kids who age out of or leave the foster care system are often under-prepared for independence. The foster care system was not intended to raise children, it was created as a triage for children in crisis. The plan is always to get them to somewhere else safe, whether that’s back with their biological families – if they have been proven safe or adopted by another loving forever family. Providing a path to independence is not the priority.

​But for too many kids, foster care is the last stop. They never find a forever home or family.

Finally Family Homes was created to step into that gap, it is our mission to help bring these children into successful independent adulthood.

Below is our high level plan to help achieve that goal for the kids who come through our 3 year program.  Hopefully there are some ideas on our path to independence that can also be useful to anyone helping a child become a successful independent adult.

The First 6 Months

The primary focus will be getting the kids adjusted to the program and set up with the essentials. ​

​Some learning may take place simultaneously, depending on urgency, but the general plan will be to focus on the following each month in order.

1st Month – Essential Logistics

2nd Month – Essential Health

  • Make any necessary doctor’s visits
  • Hygiene education
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Stress management
  • Psychology
  • Spirituality

​3rd Month – Educational Support

  • Creating career goals & a plan to get there
  • Connecting with financial resources 
  • Learning Study skills
  • Connecting with learning resources – tutors, study groups

​​​​​4th Month – Financial Management

  • Create and help manage credit accounts
  • Help set up practices for paying bills on time
  • ​Making and keeping a budget
  • ​Help with finding and making any fixes to credit reports/history
  • Setting up savings and checking accounts with bank/credit union
  • Investing

​5th Month – Social Emotional Management

  • Understanding & supporting healthy boundaries in relationships
  • Understanding emotions and safe ways to express them
  • Safe and smart conflict resolution skills
  • Making & maintaining relationships
  • Safe & Unsafe people
  • Self care

6th Month – Other Skills for Living Well

  • Setting Goals
  • How to clean
  • Minimalism / Konmari
  • How to Cook
  • Style / Self-presentation
  • Spiritual health

18 Months Growth Program

During this time youth will begin to build their own tiny homes and be focused primarily on furthering their education. Ideally the youth will have applied and connected to higher education as soon as is feasible in the first 6 months. In addition, in no particular order this 18 months will allow time to grow and go further with the following independent living skills.

Emergency Preparedness
CPR training
CERT training
Earthquake & fire  

Personal Safety
Self defense
 Smart practices – not walking alone at night, etc

Driving
Learning how to drive
Navigation
What to do in an accident or if you get pulled over
Understanding car loans, registration, & insurance
Basic car maintenance – how to change a tire, change oil, jump start a car

Technology Education
Basic computer skills
Safety with social media
Security  – good passwords, etc
Researching
Backing up data
Speed typing

Meal planning & cooking
Grocery shopping
Using food wisely
Making healthy meals
Kitchen & food safety  
Advanced Money Management
Investing
Preparing for unexpected expense
Managing credit cards
Doing taxes
Balancing checkbook

Art Basics
Music & visual art
Time Management
Strategies for being early
Planning your days/ priorities  

Camping  / Boondocking
Planning
Tools – tent, firewood, sleeping bag, etc
Basic survival skills
Making reservations

Sports Basics
Bike riding
Swimming
Skating/scooters

Advanced Social Skills
How to approach & meet people
Networking
Communicating assertively
Active listening
Public speaking
Negotiating
Hospitality

Gardening
Growing Great program
Sustainable practices
Yard care

House Maintenance / Construction
Basic safety – smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
Electricity
Plumbing
Skills with tools (replacing a doorknob, etc)

Ecology / Connecting Globally
Minimizing waste
Avoiding toxic chemicals
Re-using, upcycling, etc

6 Months Mentoring Others

This is the last step on the path to independence – a time for the youth to finish up their tiny houses, schooling, and refining the above skills. This is also a time to be a mentor to youth newer to the program. Teaching helps solidify what they know.

6 Months Preparing to Move Out

1st Month – Job Searching

  • How to find jobs
  • Building a resume
  • How to interview

2nd Month – Finding A Place to Live

  • Understanding rental contracts
  • Understanding utilities
  • Researching neighborhoods and landlords

3rd Month – Finding Transportation

  • Researching transportation options
  • Getting metro pass or a car

4th Month – Finding Connections and Support

  • Connecting to churches, friends, clubs, etc

5th Month – Getting Household Items

  • Furniture: Couch, chair, bed
  • Dishes, linens, etc

6th Month – How To Move, Pack, etc.

  • How to pack furniture
  • When to pack what
  • ​How to protect fragile items
  • Setting up utilities

Ongoing Support for Independence

One of the unique things about Finally Family Homes is our plan for continued support after the youth leave the program.

Upon leaving, youth will take a tiny home that they helped build with them. They can park a tiny home for much cheaper than the lowest rent in the worst neighborhoods. When necessary, they will be able to come back and stay in their tiny home on the property. The tiny home means more security.

Foster youth will be regularly invited to dinner back at the house, or to visit anytime they feel the need. They will receive continued support over the phone, electronically, and through other support system structures. And they will always have a place to go for the holidays.

In addition to sharing about Finally Family Homes’ mission & work, this blog covers some of the education we’ll be doing in more detail. For more read the following posts or sign up for our newsletter below.

How to Gather & store essential documents

Setting Goals

​Time Management

One purpose of this blog is to help parents of teens navigate the challenges of preparing their children to be successful independent adults. The mission of Finally Family Homes is to provide the same kind of support for those teens who don’t have a family or home to help them on the path to independence as they transition into adulthood.

You can make a difference by sharing this post.

If you’d like to know more, check out the About section or contact us.

You can make a difference by sharing this post!

Comments

  1. Oh Christina! I love the heart and plan of your ministry. It’s both practical, and loving, building up and edifying, so these people come out with hope, and an ability to move forward with things they have not been given growing up. I especially love the clever solution of Tiny Houses and the safety it provides while getting on their feet.

    1. Thanks Elaine! Appreciate the encouragement 🙂
      We’ve put a lot of thought into what all foster kids might need to learn or any kids who are becoming independent successful adults!

  2. I never thought about this stage in foster kids’ lives and how critical it is to have such a helpful network around you. I will be praying about this more. Thank you, Christina, for all you do.

    1. Thanks for your prayers Jessica. They’re welcomed & needed!
      It’s no small endeavor to help teens become independent… no matter what their history is – add trauma, and there’s more to struggle through. Please pray for the kids!

  3. What a marvelous organization, and what a great list of skills to arm kids with! (To be honest, there’s a few that I need to get more competent with!)

    1. Thanks Jill! We’re so excited that you are excited 🙂
      And yes, there’s many probably most of us could improve on … I think “adulting” should be required in High School 😉

  4. This is incredible planning and I’m certain will be incredibly effective in helping these teens become successful in life. I love the idea of the tiny homes!

    1. Thanks Sarah.
      Looking forward to seeing & sharing how it goes once the foster youth start working their way through the program!

  5. This is an amazing program you have set up! I too love the idea of a tiny house for them to live in!

    1. Thanks AnnMarie,
      I love the idea of tiny houses period – especially for young single folks 😉

  6. This is such an amazing mission. It’s so important and I’m praying that more ministries step up and mirror this mission and the steps you are taking to ensure that foster children have hope after foster care! Thank you!

    1. Thanks Amber!
      So appreciative of all your support & encouragement AND prayers!
      Yes.. 18 is too young for hope to end… that’s when it should be at it’s highest!
      We hope to replicate and build once we have things up and running a few years.

  7. This is amazing! What a great organization!

    1. Thank you!
      We are excited for the program plan for aging out foster youth too!

  8. Amazing. Thank you for sharing this information. This is definitely needed.

    1. Thank you Melissa! We’re so excited for it too! These youth could definitely use some help with life skills – even I can use more help with life skills! ha!

  9. Wow! This plan is amazing. So many children come with so much brokenness from a failed system. May God bless you as you pursue a plan to heal some of that brokenness and give them hope.

    1. Thank you so much Brittany! We sure appreciate your support. There’s so much to being successfully independent when you really break it all down. I think those of us who’ve been “adulting” a while may take it for granted (I know I did!).

  10. This is an amazing program! You are truly loving your neighbor as yourself!

  11. This program sounds wonderful. I plan to follow your progress.

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