Project LIFE supports older youth, local staff and other professionals by providing an integrated approach to permanency and helping them prepare for adulthood.
Services for Professionals and Adults
To support the delivery of foster care services for older youth in accordance with Virginia Department of Social Services Guidance Section 13, Achieving Permanency for Older Youth, Project LIFE provides the following services:
Orientation to Casey Life Skills Assessment (CLSA)
This is an initial orientation for LDSS staff and contracted private providers who conduct Independent Living assessments. It provides an introduction to web technology and the array of related resources available for workers in using assessment findings to develop customized service and transition plans. This orientation is recommended before or at the beginning of IL Assessment and Transition Plan Coaching (described below).
Orientation to Transition Planning
This orientation is an introduction to policy requirements for LDSS staff responsible for developing services and transition plans with youth. It will help workers develop greater understanding of the elements of the transition plan template and numerous resources available for IL skills development. Attendees will receive the Social Worker Guide to Transitional Living Planning with Youth that contains step-by-step guidance and helpful examples. This orientation is recommended before or at the beginning of IL Assessment and Transition Plan Coaching (described below).
Family Services Specialist Guide to Preparing Older Youth in Care for Adulthood
LDSS staff responsible for conducting IL assessments and service and transition plans will learn strategies for engaging youth, building a team and integrating IL assessment findings into the service and transition plan. It includes step-by-step guidance on each element of the plan and numerous best practice resources for preparing older youth in care for adulthood.
Project LIFE IL Consultants currently offer informational sessions on the following topics:
Independent Living Services/ETV
Description of the basics of the Independent Living Program, including:
- The purpose of the IL assessment.
- The goals of the service and transition living planning process.
- The difference between basic IL funding and the Educational Training Voucher (ETV).
- The IL services contract with youth age 18 and older.
- Guidelines for resuming services for youth who leave and wish to return to foster care.
This is an overview of:
- Permanency, its meaning and importance.
- Related policy requirements.
- Strategies for engaging youth.
- Use of search technologies.
- Use of Permanency Pacts.
This is a basic, introductory overview. More in-depth technical assistance is provided within the context of IL Assessment and Transition Plan Coaching.
National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD)
Learn why the survey information is being collected, how to complete the survey as well as strategies for locating and engaging youth in the data collection process, and the relationship between NYTD and the principles of Virginia’s Practice Model. You will also learn how to enter NYTD-related data into OASIS.
Other Learning Opportunities
Knowledge of permanency best practices is critical in work with older youth in foster care. Project LIFE offers several opportunities for LDSS staff, private providers and other stakeholders to learn more about this important topic and its implications for practice with older youth.
Regional and Local Support
Project LIFE will continue to provide support to regional IL Committees and coalitions, LDSSs, and private providers in providing IL services to youth and strengthening practices in serving older youth.
Learning Opportunities for Youth
Statewide Youth Conferences
Project LIFE offers two statewide youth conferences each year. Both focus on youth leadership development, advocacy, public speaking and permanency.
Regional Youth Events
Regional activities for youth will be held regularly throughout the state. Topics may include community engagement, youth/adult partnerships, helping youth understand the importance of a good credit score and how to access their own credit reports. Project LIFE will also work with IL coordinators in each region to plan and implement events that are tailored to regional needs and priorities.
The Youth Network is a group of youth who can serve on workgroups/committees to provide meaningful youth input. This program does not require that youth be elected as officers or serve at a regional or state level. Youth will have opportunities to come together to network with others, offer input on local and state policies, and share their concerns about youth in foster care.
The Speaker’s Bureau is a trained team of youth in foster care, ages 14-21, and foster care alumni, who make presentations to targeted audiences throughout Virginia. These well-trained youth advocate for themselves and others by giving insight into the experience of foster care through personal testimonials.
IL Transition Planning
A standardized, interactive presentation, approximately 90 minutes in length, designed to help young people:
- Understand their responsibility for developing and achieving a plan
- Develop personal goals
- Identify their strengths, interests and needs
- Use these goals, strengths and interests to design services
- Use networks
- Access services and resources to meet their needs. (Refer to VDSS Policy on Foster Care, Section 13. Serving Older Youth).
Guide for Older Youth In and Aging Out of Foster Care in Virginia
Designed as a tool for older youth in care, this Guide provides information and strategies for:
- Engaging in their IL assessment and transition-living planning process.
- Building their team.
- Developing life skills.
- Preparing for transition to adulthood.
- Building connections that will last.
The Guide supports implementation of DSS Policy on Serving Older Youth with particular focus on supporting youth-driven approaches.