Foster Care

Life After Foster Care: Preparing Your Teen For Adulthood

Preparing a teen for life after foster care is a necessary step to take. From financial skills to navigating relationships, here’s how you can help.

Imagine being 18 and suddenly having to make all of life's big decisions without the help of a family to guide you. 

This is what happens to about 25,000 young people each year when they age out of foster care. They have to figure out things like where to live, how to manage their money, and how to get a good job —  all on their own.

These teens have a harder time finishing high school and finding work compared to other teens. Also, a lot of them end up without a place to live.

This is why it's important to help teens get ready for adulthood​​.

Below, we’re going to talk about how we can help teens in care get ready to face the world. We'll cover important topics like learning to manage money, how to practice self care once they leave home, and how to make good decisions about school and jobs. 

As a foster parent, you’ll be the one they turn to when it comes to learning how to build a strong future. When a teen in care leaves foster care, they'll be ready to take on anything life sends their way, thanks to you!

We know teens in foster care can do great things with the right help and support. Let's dive into how foster parents can make that happen, step by step!

Essential Life Skills For Teens in Care

As teens in care get ready to live on their own, there are some key skills they'll need to learn. 

These skills will help nurture them, manage their finances, support them in school or work, and help them plan for their futures. 

Independent Living Skills

Cooking, cleaning, and basic household management - Knowing how to cook meals, keep living spaces clean, and manage a household are all skills adults learn as we grow. We primarily learn these skills from our family. When you have no sense of family to fall back on, it’s up to loving foster families to fill the gap.

Time management and personal organization - Learning how to manage time and how to stay organized helps teens in care get things done and keep stress low. This is a crucial skill to master for attending college and will serve future adults well at work.

Importance of self-care and maintaining health - Taking care of our body and mind is important but easy to forget when you find yourself in control of your own routines. Healthy skills include eating right, getting enough sleep, and finding healthy ways to handle stress.

Financial Literacy

Budgeting and managing money - Knowing how to handle money is a hot topic for teens in care. This means learning how to track what they earn and spend, and making sure they don't spend more than what they have. 

Understanding credit and how to use it wisely - Credit can be a helpful tool if you know how to use it right. Using credit wisely means not borrowing too much and paying it back on time — an essential skill for teens preparing for adulthood!

Savings and investment basics - Even a little bit saved can add up and help a teen in the future, like buying a car or going to college. Learning the basics of saving and investing can help them make their money grow.

Teach them about taxes - This is not a skill that gets good coverage in school but it can have a serious impact on the life of an adult.

Educational Support

Navigating college applications and financial aid - Going to college helps teens get a good job in the future. Learning how to apply for college and get financial aid (money to help pay for school) is a big step toward that goal. You’ll want to encourage teens to find a program that excites them, too!

Exploring trade schools and apprenticeship programs - College isn't the only path to a good job. Trade schools and apprenticeships can teach teens specific skills for different types of jobs, like being an electrician or a chef.

Importance of lifelong learning and self-education - Learning doesn't stop when you finish school. Keeping your mind sharp and learning new things can help with future jobs and personal enrichment.

Career Planning

Resume building and job search strategies - Every teen should know how to craft a resume — it’s the best way to show employers what they can do. Learning how to make a good resume and look for jobs is key to finding work.

Interview skills and workplace etiquette - Knowing how to talk about yourself in a job interview and how to act at work can help teens in care get and keep a job.

Exploring career interests and setting goals - Thinking about what they like to do and setting goals for their future can help a teen find satisfying careers. Encourage them to think about what they want to do with their lives!

Learning these skills can take time, but they're worth it. They can help teens in care feel more confident and ready for the future. 

With the right support and resources, teens can learn these skills and start their journey to a successful and independent adulthood!

Teaching Teens in Care to Build Healthy Relationships

Building healthy relationships can be a tough thing to teach — however, it’s crucial for teens in care as they transition to adulthood. 

The right relationships can:

  • Provide a sense of belonging.
  • Help in developing a strong sense of self.
  • Offer guidance and support through the challenges of growing up. 

Encouraging teens to build and maintain these relationships can empower them to create the life they want when they become an adult.

The Value of Building a Supportive Community

For teens transitioning to adulthood, having a strong and supportive community is like having a safety net.

  • This community can include friends, teachers, and support groups.
  • These people can offer advice, listen when teens need to talk, and be there during tough times.
  • A supportive community helps teens in care feel less alone and more understood.

Encourage teens in care to ask questions — their support network is there to help and provide guidance!

Additionally, help your teen to prioritize quality support over quantity. While having a large network is great, it’s important to evaluate how the people in our network make us feel — especially when it comes to social media and navigating the world online.

Navigating Romantic Relationships Responsibly

Entering into romantic relationships is a normal part of growing up. 

For teens, it's important to learn how to handle these relationships in a healthy and responsible way. This includes understanding consent, communication, and respect for themselves and others. 

It's also about knowing what they want in a relationship and not being afraid to say no when something doesn't feel right.

These conversations may be uncomfortable, but they’re completely necessary. Make sure to approach them with respect.

Reconnecting with Biological Family Members, If Applicable

For some teens in care, reconnecting with biological family members can be a part of their journey. 

  • This process can bring up a lot of emotions, both positive and negative.
  • It's important for teens to have support during this time.
  • They should feel they have control over the process and can move at their own pace. 

Reconnecting with family can be complicated, but it can also be a healing experience — it completely depends on the circumstances and care plan for your teen.

Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being

Good mental health is just as important as physical health, especially for teens in care facing the transition to adulthood. 

Recognizing and prioritizing mental health helps teens understand their emotions, build resilience, and navigate the challenges of life more effectively. 

It's about feeling good about who you are, managing feelings positively, and handling ups and downs in life!

  • Access to therapy and counseling services is vital for teens in care.
  • These services offer a safe space to talk about feelings, work through trauma, and receive guidance.
  • Teens can access these services through school programs, local community centers, and health clinics. 

For teens, there are also specific programs and resources designed to address their unique needs and experiences, which are especially important for teens in  therapeutic care

  • School counselors and psychologists - Schools often have counselors or psychologists available to students, including teens in care. They can provide support right where teens spend a significant part of their day.
  • Community mental health services - Many communities offer mental health services on a sliding scale based on income, making therapy more accessible to those who need it.
  • Online and teletherapy options - With advancements in technology, accessing therapy online has become an option, offering flexibility and privacy for teens who might feel more comfortable with this format.

Coping Strategies

Learning and practicing coping strategies can help teens manage stress and emotional challenges. These strategies can include:

  • Mindfulness and meditation - Techniques that focus on being in the moment and managing thoughts and feelings without judgment.
  • Physical activity - Regular exercise can significantly reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
  • Creative outlets - Activities like writing, art, or music allow for self-expression and emotional release.
  • Healthy routines - Establishing a routine can provide a sense of stability and normalcy, which is especially important for teens in foster care.
  • Social connections - Building strong, healthy relationships with peers, mentors, and supportive adults can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging.

Understanding and managing one’s emotions is a critical skill for all, particularly for those transitioning from foster care to independence. 

Emotional intelligence involves recognizing one's emotions, understanding how they influence behavior, and learning how to express feelings in healthy ways. 

Workshops, therapy, and supportive conversations with mentors can all help teens in care develop these skills!

Learn More About Foster Care In Our Upcoming Webinar

Looking for more information about foster care? If so, our upcoming webinar can give you the answers. 

By attending a Foster Parent Information Session Webinar and learning more about the fostering process, you can take the first step toward becoming a foster parent for a teen in need and providing a safe, loving, and supportive home. 

You can make a difference at home: Sign up for our webinar today to see how!

Sign Up For The Webinar


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