As a resource parent, you’ve played an instrumental role in the development of your foster child. Even as they approach adulthood, they still need support, direction and encouragement. That’s why the state of Tennessee recently passed a law that gives young adults the option of receiving extension of foster care services until age 21. For details on what’s available for your foster youth, go to our article on the extension.
These services are designed to help bridge the journey from adolescence to adulthood—but are most valuable when presented within the context of a caring family. And your assistance as a resource parent will ensure the continued success of your foster child.
The journey toward independence begins for most young people in their early teens, as they begin learning skills and developing relationships that will allow them to successfully navigate a complex world, provide for their daily care needs and reach their goals. Independent living services are not a substitute for permanent connections to caring adults, but rather a complement to those relationships.
Most Valuable Resource
Although the young person will begin to transition to make use of other state programs, you will remain the most valuable resource they have and are vital to a youth’s preparation for adult living. So your continued involvement in their lives is critical.
You are the youth’s link to their future and can provide direction, encouragement and nurturing. You have the most knowledge and contact with your young adult. You have been expected to guide them and teach them skills for living on their own. You’ve observed whether or not they have mastered a life skill. You’ve also had to deal with the difficult behaviors that occurred in adolescence, as well as those that resulted from their experience in foster care. Clearly, you are an integral part of the service team and are encouraged to continue working as partners with the Department of Children’s Services to prepare your young adult to be successful.
Together, you’ve come a long way. But your young adult’s growth is far from over, and you’re needed now more than ever.