Transition to adulthood planning is integrated into case planning for a young person from the age of 15 years. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to transition to adulthood planning, and planning should move beyond what the young person needs for their survival and incorporate resilience and life skills. It should be ambitious.
Young people in care need to have connections to their families, because this provides ongoing relationships and support as they move into adulthood. Relationships with parents, siblings and extended family need to be revisited regularly to find opportunities to strengthen them or safely reconnect.
Establishing a relationship with the young person and promoting their active participation in the process is critical to successful transition to adulthood planning and action. Young people individually guide us about what participation looks, sounds and feels like to them. We need to be respectful and proactive in engaging young people in transition to adulthood planning, at their pace.
It is essential that we establish a robust safety and support network and form partnerships with those in the young person’s network. In the planning process, we use other relationships that the young person may have with professionals or friends. These people can establish effective relationships and assist with communication. Collaboration delivers better outcomes.
We need to balance the timing of planning so it starts early enough that young people feel like they are planning for their own future, but not so early that they feel pressured. Some are ready to embrace independence earlier than others. We need to take the impacts of trauma, attachment disruption and developmental delays into account in order to move at the pace of the young person.
Effective transition to adulthood is a form of early intervention for future generations, to break the cycle of intergenerational child abuse and trauma. If we can help young people as they move into adulthood, we reduce the risk that their children will come into contact with child protection.
My transition from care was really rushed, which was not good. I don’t remember there being any planning. I got to stay with my carer past 18 which was really good. When I decided that I wanted to live by myself I had to put myself into homelessness to get accommodation. I’m still in that accommodation today. My transition from care would have been easier if planning had started early. I would have also liked to have known more about the services that I could access.
Shelley, 22 years (CREATE 2013, p. 12)
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