Given that the average young person in the UK leaves home when they’re 24 years of age, one of the toughest situations young people in care face is having to leave care at the age of 16. Those leaving custody face similar difficulties. They often have nowhere settled to go when they leave and receive little support.
For many young people, whether in residential care or not, the transition from a very supportive living situation to a stage of self sufficiency in order to cope with living on their own can be difficult and traumatic. For young people in residential care this can be even more difficult as they invariably lack the resources to support a level of independence.
In order to meet the needs for a supported progression towards self-sufficiency, our Transitional Care service consists of a number of small resources within the community where vulnerable young people will receive support to develop ‘Life management skills’ – living and social skills as well as the opportunity to experience the realities and challenges of living less dependently, and opportunities to continue their education.
Why Transitional Care is needed
Transitional Care has been established in order to allow work to continue when vulnerable young people need to be assisted to develop greater self-sufficiency prior to ‘moving on’ from residential care. In doing so, Prospects recognise the need for young people to be viewed as increasingly autonomous individuals requiring help to develop their ‘independent’ living skills.
To enhance the likelihood of increased self sufficiency the resources used have been chosen to provide accommodation within a community setting where there are the necessary facilities and services close at hand.
Work with the families of young people placed in our care will continue in order to facilitate their eventual rehabilitation into their home area if possible and desirable. Similarly, any therapeutic work which has been undertaken with the young person whilst placed with Prospects will continue through transitional care – a ‘continuity of care’.
The young people we work with
The majority of young people will have previously lived in other resources provided by Prospects. However, it is possible for young people to be admitted directly to the Transitional Care Programme, subject to their suitability and the appropriateness of such a placement.
Prospects takes the view that young people should be central to the planning and decision making process. It is therefore important that they are involved in the initial decision about being placed at Prospects and in all ongoing discussions where decisions are made and plans reviewed concerning their future. Young people may have experienced some or all of the following prior to referral:
- Breakdown of family relationships
- Histories of sexual, physical abuse and neglect
- Number of placement breakdowns including substitute ‘family’ placements, residential schools, and children’s homes
- Difficulties in attending and achieving in mainstream and/or special schools
- Involvement in delinquent or criminal behaviour.
All our resources are managed by a Manager and a team of Support Workers and supported by the out-of-hours ‘on call system’.
- Education, Employment and Training
- All young people are given the option of continued education, through:
- Prospects Independent School
- Mainstream schools, as appropriate
- Access to local FE colleges or university
- Access to employment and work-based training
- All young people will follow a Living and Social Skills Programme.
What we aim to achieve
The overall aim of transitional care is to work in a structured, time focused way to equip young people with the skills required to successfully cope with living on their own. These skills could enable them to take on the tenancy of accommodation in any area. This is achieved by assessment of ‘Life Management Skills’:
- Self-awareness – includes recognition of ourselves, of our character, of our strengths and weaknesses, desires and dislikes.
- Coping with emotions – involves recognising our emotions and those of others, being aware of how emotions influence behaviour and being able to respond to emotions appropriately.
- Coping with stress – is about first recognising our life stressors and the sources of these in our lives, and then we can choose to act in a way that controls our stress levels.
- Empathy – is the ability to imagine what life is like for another person, even in a situation that you may not be familiar with.
- Decision-making – is about following through constructively with decisions about our lives.
- Problem-solving – like ‘decision-making’, this helps us to deal constructively with the problems in our lives.
- Creative thinking – contributes to both decision-making and problem-solving by enabling us to explore alternatives and the consequences of our action or non-action.
- Critical thinking – is the ability to analyse information and experiences in an objective manner.
- Effective Communication – means that we are able to express ourselves verbally and non-verbally, in ways that are appropriate to our cultures and situations.
- Interpersonal relationship skills – help us to relate in positive ways with people that we interact with.
Young people are also given opportunities to learn and acquire ‘Practical Living Skills’ such as budgeting and managing finances, cooking, laundry, personal health care and advice on accessing local community support amongst others. These skills and the support given by experienced adults, we believe will go a long way in preparing young people for adulthood.
The achievement of independent living skills are measured through specific target setting; agreed with young people, parents and placing authorities via Individual placement plans, Action plans and Pathway plans (where applicable).