I don't focus on what I'm up against. I focus on my goals and I try to ignore the rest. - Venus Williams
Here’s the truth: transition is scary. Change can seem difficult to deal with—and understanding how to react to change is one of the hardest parts of adult life.
But there’s hope. By setting goals you can be an advocate for your own success. Remember: no one knows the person you want to be more than you, and it’s important that you do the work to create the best version of yourself. One of the most useful ways youth in transition have found success is by working with their caseworker to create a transition plan full of tangible, concrete, and realistic goals.
What is a Transition Plan?
Every youth in foster care who is turning 17 must participate in creating a transition plan. The policy in South Carolina is that the transition plan must be formalized within the 90 days prior to the youth’s 17th birthday. Then, again, as required by the federal government, the formal transition plan meeting must take place 90 days prior to a youth turning 18 and/or leaving care.
Typically, the transition plan meeting involves your caseworker and whomever you would like to attend the meeting, as long as they are people who have not been court-ordered for no contact. You may want to invite your foster parents, teachers, a former caseworker, a leader, a coach, family members, etc. Ultimately, you can invite any adult you trust and want to be there to support you.
At your transition plan meeting you will set big and small goals for your transition. Be as specific as possible with these big and small goals. For example, if you have a small goal of learning to bake, don’t say “I want to bake” rather say “I want to learn how to make a banana nut sponge cake”. Likewise, for a big goal such as higher education, don’t say “I want to go to college” but instead “I want to enroll in the two-year program for medical coding at Trident Technical College”. Being specific will help you realize your success.
Making the Most of Your Transition Plan
Remember: your caseworker needs you to be an advocate for yourself. Take responsibility for making sure you have a solid transition planning meeting. Take the initiative to remind your caseworker and the other adults you invite about your transition planning meeting. Also, a transition plan is not what other people want for you, but what you want for you. If you are not satisfied with the transition plan you have made, it is okay to request another one.
A successful transition plan will not only show you how to create tangible goals but will also show you what steps you need to achieve them. With a little planning and a lot of perseverance you will be able to manage your transition.