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Transitioning from adolescence to adulthood is always challenging.
A network of stable and strong connections with the community, family and friends can make the transition less challenging. These connections are also crucial for helping young people grow into healthy adults while supporting brain changes and developments that occur at this time. Such transitions may be challenging for young people who are leaving care. .
These additional challenges arise due to the disruptive experiences they may have been through, as well as often not having access to the emotional, financial and practical support they need from birth family. So, how can foster carers and the community support foster children transitioning into adulthood?
Preparing for and transitioning into adulthood takes time. Foster carers should, therefore, start providing the support they need before young people are close to transitioning. Start by teaching them the basics and important concepts of being a young adult.
Topics like saving money, continuing education, finding employment, remaining debt-free, and setting long-term goals are great places to start.
Maintain Connections Throughout and After The Transition
Strong connections with birth parents, foster carers, the community, and biological or foster siblings have been shown to help children in care while transitioning. These connections should, therefore, be developed and supported through the transition and afterward.
Foster children placed with people who love and support them as they transition into adulthood are also more likely to be self-sufficient, employed, attend further education, and stay-debt free compared to those who do not have these connections and support.
Explore New Ways To Support Them
New ideas on supporting foster children making this transition are always coming up. For example, recent changes to laws in Scotland and England allow foster children who have reached the age of 18 to remain with their foster carers until they are 21. Foster carers can use this time to help them start the process of transitioning and being independent.
There are numerous options like this for foster carers, and those looking to support foster children as they transition can get in touch with foster care agencies like ISP fostering for help. They have numerous resources to help foster carers handle the transition better while providing the required level of care.
Empower Young People To Make Decisions
Many foster children have not been allowed the autonomy to make crucial decisions about their lives. Being left out of critical decisions like this can be devastating, especially as they seek independence and autonomy as they transition.
It is, therefore, essential to empower young people transitioning into adulthood to start making decisions about their lives and futures. As a foster carer, it is important that you step back and instead provide the guidance and support they need. It is also important to listen, so they feel trusted and cared for, only stepping in if you think they are making a wrong decision.
It is also good to give them responsibilities in their daily lives as a way of helping them learn to make decisions. Doing this will also help them understand and learn from the consequences of their decisions, whether those consequences are positive or negative.
Help Them With Their Personal Documents
Helping foster children with their personal documents is a good way of supporting young people in transition. Start helping them organise their personal documents, such as birth and school certificates. Other documents to help them include a photo ID and driver’s licence. Working with their social worker and birth parents can help ensure everyone is kept in the loop.
Apart from making things like finding employment easier for foster children, helping them organise their documents is crucial for preventing identity theft. Although anyone can be a victim of identity theft, children in care can be more vulnerable, making it more important that you help them with this.
Communicate High Expectations
Sadly, some foster children have repeatedly heard about their limitations instead of their abilities. As a foster carer, communicating high expectations shows you have faith in their abilities. Sending a message of future success and prosperity can make young people transitioning into adulthood look forward to their future instead of dreading it.
Talking about college, employment, or even starting their own businesses can make them hopeful about the transition. Work these topics into daily conversations and begin as early as possible.
Transitioning into adulthood can be scary for foster children who do not know what the next chapter brings. The foster carer should support and guide them through the transition. Doing so will make it easier for them to succeed, especially if they know someone will always be there for them.