"Transitional Living Services provide a multipurpose, systemic and integrated approach for youth and young adults to help in transitioning to a successful adulthood through coordinated permanency and transition planning. The provision of Transitional Living Services includes access to information about benefits, supports, and resources that affect both older youth in foster care and those who have aged out of foster care. Transitional Living Services apply to youth and young adults ages 14 up to age 23 (depending on the program) and up to age 26 for continuous healthcare coverage." - Texas Department of Family and Protective Services
Aging Out of Foster Care
Foster parents and service providers of youth age 14 and older are required to provide basic life skills training.
Minimally, the following practical activities should be part of the training:
- Meal preparation
- Nutrition education
- Using public transportation
- Financial literacy
- Money management
- Credit history
- Balancing a checkbook
- Basic household tasks
- Community resources
- Post-secondary education
- Vocational/Technical school opportunities
- Establishing a savings account (if the youth as a source of income)
Together with Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) services, these basic life skills activities should help the youth prepare for the transition to independent living.
The "ACCESS Granted" handbook can help youth in foster care understand how the system works and answer many of the questions and concerns they may have about foster care. The handbook offers information on topics such as the CPS chain of command, child/youth rights, health passport, education portfolio, transition plans and other Transitional Living Services in a way that is easily to understand.
Youth in foster care can help develop their transition plan by participating in Permanency Conferences, Circles of Support (COS) and/or Transition Plan Meetings. A well developed transition plan will help foster youth obtain positive permanency or successfully transition from foster care and is added to the youth's service plan to ensure consistency of services.
In addition to the youth, having a trusted adult involved in the transition planning can increase the potential of the youth in developing personal and community connections that are essential to the transition process.
Young adults who are in the Extended Foster Care program will also receive transition planning services.
Beginning at age 16 (or as early as age 14 in some cases), youth in foster care can participate in a Circle of Support (COS) to develop their transition plan that may take the place of required permanency planning meetings. The COS is facilitated by a family conference specialist and coordinated together with the youth and "caring adults" that they identify. COS participants can include biological family members, foster care providers, teachers, church members, mentors or anyone other trusted adults. Together, the COS works to develop the youth's permanency or transition plan, identify strengths and set goals in areas such as education, employment, health (physical and mental), housing and PAL life skills.
The Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) program is in place to help older foster you prepare for "aging out" and transition into successful adulthood. There are many supportive services and benefits provided by the PAL staff and contract providers available to help foster you and young adults become self-sufficient and productive members of society. "The PAL program is funded by the Chafee Foster Care Independence Program, State general revenue funds and/or community match (20%)".
Preparation for Adult Living (PAL) services include:
Life Skills Assessment:
The Casey Life Skills Assessment is used to measure strengths and needs of foster youth in life skills attainment.
Life Skills Training (age 16 to 18) in the following core areas:
- Health and Safety
- Housing and Transportation
- Job Readiness
- Financial Management
- Life Decisions/Responsibility
- Personal/Social Relationships
- Educational/vocational services
Supportive Services (based on need and funding availability) may include:
- Graduation items
- Driver’s education fees
Transitional Living Allowance:
An allowance of up to $1,000, distributed in increments of up to $500 per month, is available for young adults who have participated in the PAL training. This allowance can help with some initial costs incurred when transitioning to independent adult living.
Aftercare Room and Board Assistance:
An assistance program for young adults up to age 21 that can provide up to $500 per month for rent, utilities, deposits, food, etc. (not to exceed $3,000 of accumulated payments per young adult).
Assistance for young adults aging out of foster care for self-sufficiency planning and resource coordination.
With the implementation of the federal Fostering Connections Act (Title IV-E of the Social Security Act), a young adult who ages out of foster care at age 18 is eligible for Extended Foster Care provided there is an available placement, the young adult signs a voluntary extended foster care agreement and meets at least one of the following conditions:The Fostering Connections to Success and Increasing Adoptions Act of 2008 ensures that young adults who age out of foster care are eligible for Extended Foster Care services. In order to qualify, there must be an available placement and the young adult must sign a voluntary Extended Foster Care Agreement and meet at least one of the conditions below:
Be between 18 and 22 year olds, and:
- be attending either high school or a program leading toward a high school diploma or school equivalence certificate (GED); or is
Between 18 and 22 year olds, and:
- be attending a college, university, vocational or technical program at least half time; or
- be participating in any public program that promotes the removal of barriers to, employment; or
- have at least half-time employment (minimum 80 hours per month; or
- have a documented medical condition that prohibits them from performing any of the above.
The Supervised Independent Living (SIL) Program allows young adults in Extended Foster Care to live independently in minimally supervised living facilities provided by DFPS contracted providers. Young adults in the SIL program are allowed increased responsibilities like managing their finances, shopping for groceries and personal items and other essential activities of independent adulthood. Supervised Independent Living arrangements include apartments, college dorms, non-college dorms, shared housing (roommates) and host homes. Young adults in the SIL Program have access to resources and assistance to achieve a successful transition to full independent living.
Some areas of assistance offered by the SIL Program include identifying education and employment goals, access to community resources, essential life skills training and fostering important interpersonal relationships. Applications must be submitted and accepted for a young adult in extended foster care to be admitted to the program.