Setting the Standard for an Outstanding Adulthood
Imagine a young man or woman approaching adulthood. This transition is a time that should be filled with excitement and opportunity as they look toward their future and independence. However, those who have spent part of their teenage years in foster care also struggle with relationship building, family planning, and finding future stability.
When Youth Villages made the realization back in 1999, they then launched LifeSet. This groundbreaking and innovative program helps change young men and women's lives in exiting foster care.
Expanding on support programs
In 2019, Hoyleton Youth and Family Services explored new ways and innovative approaches to delivering care to older foster care youth. We had a strong program, called Emerging Adults. This program included opportunities for both community and independent living. At the same time, the youth acquired essential life skills, "says Brice Bloom-Ellis, Chief Program Officer." "LifeSet was an opportunity for us to improve our program, continue to assist youth in development and growth, while we support and prepare them for adulthood."
Hoyleton launched LifeSet in southern Illinois as a pilot program through a grant awarded from Youth Villages and DCFS and was a natural extension of the Emerging Adults Care program.
Building a foundation for success
Youth are referred to the program by DCFS. Hoyleton's LifeSet team completes an assessment to verify that the youth is a good fit for the program, making it possible for a youth to have the best outcome. Then they enter the program, getting paired with a case specialist trained in navigating early adulthood complexities.
Youth and case specialists meet weekly at the youth's choice; face-to-face meetings are encouraged when possible. However, throughout COVID, video conferencing is utilized. Through experiential learning, the case specialist helps them set achievable goals around housing, transportation, education, employment, health, and relationships.
A unique approach to accomplish goals
The unique part that distinguishes LifeSet from similar programs is that the youth maps their path and decides for themselves the primary focus areas. The specialist provides guidelines and recommendations that the youth must meet. Still, there is more freedom for the youth to determine what is most important to them. A shorter, one-month, focused objective approach is used by LifeSet to set a plan. Young people say shorter aim times make them feel like their goal is achievable.
For each youth, the focused area is different. Some may be working towards a GED or preparing for college. Some want to find jobs, while others want to learn how to get quality housing, communicate with landlords, or take care of their new home.
Supporting Southern Illinois communities
"Hoyleton is proud to be the only organization to introduce the LifeSet program in southern Illinois," says Brice. "We are continually evolving and looking at new approaches to providing care. And we believe that we are in the best position to bridge this difficult period for young adults between group living treatment and independent living. Hoyleton and LifeSet are preparing young people for adulthood by walking alongside them and ensuring that they have the skills needed to thrive and experience success once they are out of care."
To learn more about LifeSet at Hoyleton and how you can help young adults in our communities, please visit us at https://hoyleton.org