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
- Gather & store essential documents and information
- Connect and apply for any untapped resources
- Fill in essential needs – food, water, clothing, transportation
- Learn how things work and adjust to the culture at Finally Family Homes
2nd Month – Essential Health
- Make any necessary doctor’s visits
- Hygiene education
- Stress management
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
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.
Earthquake & fire
Smart practices – not walking alone at night, etc
Learning how to drive
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
Basic computer skills
Safety with social media
Security – good passwords, etc
Backing up data
Meal planning & cooking
Using food wisely
Making healthy meals
Kitchen & food safety
Advanced Money Management
Preparing for unexpected expense
Managing credit cards
Music & visual art
Strategies for being early
Planning your days/ priorities
Camping / Boondocking
Tools – tent, firewood, sleeping bag, etc
Basic survival skills
Advanced Social Skills
How to approach & meet people
Growing Great program
House Maintenance / Construction
Basic safety – smoke & carbon monoxide detectors
Skills with tools (replacing a doorknob, etc)
Ecology / Connecting Globally
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.
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.
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