Improving the Transition to Adulthood for Youth with Disabilities in Foster Care

The transition to adulthood is challenging for youth, even in the best of circumstances. Youth with disabilities in the child welfare system face many additional barriers to a successful transition. These young adults are leaving a system that provided for all their needs, including a place to live, health care, education, and connections with family. To plan for care in the adult world, not only must these youth navigate complex adult systems that operate with rules very different from child-serving systems, but often they must do so alone, without the guiding hand of a parent. They are entering an adult world where the rules for access to benefits and services are quite different: health care coverage is much more limited, most services are not entitlements, and many services have long waiting lists.

To successfully transition from the child welfare system, young adults with disabilities and special health care needs—and the professionals and advocates working with them—must begin planning early and need to know what benefits and services are available in the adult system and how to access them. Good planning and knowledge of the law, services, and supports that individuals with disabilities need as they make the transition to adulthood from the child welfare system can improve outcomes tremendously for these emerging adults.

Juvenile Law Center has developed three tools to help youth with disabilities and child welfare professionals and advocates as they plan for the transition to adulthood from the child welfare system. We recommend that the three tools be used together to maximize their potential to improve transition planning.

Professional Development and Training

Juvenile Law Center is available to provide trainings on the use of these tools. Our goal is to help child welfare professionals, advocates, and youth improve the quality of transition planning for youth with disabilities from the child welfare system.

For more information and/or to schedule a training, please contact Jenny Pokempner at [email protected] or (215) 625-0551.