Youth in Foster Care Stay Active and Connected

The Transition to Adult Living program began in 2011 in Utah as a way to provide young people with assistance as they transition from foster care to adult living. The program helps young adults find housing, employment, on-the-job training, crisis support and medical and mental health care as they age out of the foster care system, and provides youth with mentoring, self-esteem building, personal future planning, caregiver and family networking, education and training in basic life-skills.

What’s different about the Transition to Adult Living program is that it works to help youth in foster care stay active – and connected to each other and other adults. Youth meet three times a week to run together. As an incentive, participants receive running shoes and socks. The program has partnered with a local running store that also gives the youth discounts on all purchases. The program pays for youth to participate in races, which typically occur once a month. Incentives are provided to youth who complete the races – everything from a relay and 5K to half-marathons and full marathons.

Quote from one youth who has been a part of the TAL program: “I’ve learned so much about myself and am so happy I had this opportunity to get back into something I’ve always loved…. I love giving that positive energy off. It’s helped my relationship with my father, I think he was at his highest in life when he did track and wrestling in high school and its so great to relive that with him.”

The program also provides the following key supports:

  • Access to safe and affordable housing
  • Employment at levels sufficient to cover basic needs
  • A mentoring program to promote enduring and supportive relationships
  • Training and education for career preparation
  • Mental health and physical wellness
  • Personal life skills training for successful transition to adulthood
  • Training and support to foster parents to assist in healthy transitions for youth
  • Youth are involved in all aspects of planning and implementation of services and support

The program’s efforts were designed in response to studies that suggest youth aging out of foster care tend to be less likely to have health care or access to resources, more likely to become homeless, tend to be less likely to have a high school diploma and more likely to be involved in the criminal justice system.i

The Transition to Adult Living offers a safe way for youth to interact with other foster care youth as well as to connect with caring and responsible adults. Youth participating in the program have already demonstrated the forming of good, healthy relationships, developed higher self-esteem, and have had healthier lives. Some youth have even been able to safely stop using their psychotropic medications.

For more information on this program, go to the Utah Department of Human Services, Child and Family Services

i Utah Department of Human Services. Child and Family Services. Transition to Adult Living: Gov. Walker Announces Transition to Adult Living Program.