Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Transitional Youth and Natural Consequences

The Transition to Independence Process is a strengths-based approach for encouraging youth and young adults (ages 14-29) in their future planning process.

Many of the core elements of TIP model affirm the advocacy work that the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America is involved in, and the workshops we currently provide. This includes:
One side-effect of being a child welfare trainer myself is that, when I attend a training, I automatically evaluate what worked, what didn't, and how the format might have worked better.

I believe that an effective way of teaching the Transition to Independence Process (TIP) content would have been via a one-day workshop, with breakout sessions of small groups. Each small group could receive a case-study and figure out how to apply the TIP model. After this hands-on experience with implementation, small groups would report out to the group-at-large.

As it was, I left the training with two important questions left unanswered...

1.) What is the balance between maximizing the likelihood of success for a young person, and allowing youth to face the natural consequences of their choices?

As someone who works with foster care youth and young adults, many times, a young person will come to me in crisis mode.

They had an initial problem, which could have been easily remedied. But they didn't get the help and resources when they needed it, so the problem evolved into a snowball, rolling downhill and getting bigger and bigger. Often, by the time the young person comes to me to ask for help, all the dominoes have fallen and the problem has become a tangled mess.

If my state allowed foster care youth to re-enter foster care between the ages of 18-21, in every county, that would allow for the type of learning experiences that a young adult from an intact, supportive family can often count on from their parents.

But without a cohesive safety net, there is a limit to how far I am willing to allow a young person to fall. Standing back and letting the chips fall can compound the chaos to such a degree that it can be difficult to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

2.) The presenter mentioned "rationale" as an alternative to nagging young people. Telling young people the possible benefit or risk of their actions. However, he offered no concrete examples of what this looks like, in practice...  What does this look like? / sound like?

When I queried the speaker, asking both questions above, I didn't get a straight answer. So I'm left to puzzle this out by myself. Possibly a teachable moment might ensue, during which I could guide the young person toward self-evaluation of the impact of their decisions...

I'd really like to think about this further. Lately, my brain has been gnawing on two videos I posted recently:
I'm going to delve into a website that he mentioned during the workshop, and see if I can track down some more concrete information.

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