In July of 2017, the Teen Focus team was asked to assist with RI Family Court’s first ever calendar specifically for the 200+ youth in care with the permanency goal of Another Planned Permanent Living Arrangement (APPLA). This means neither reunification or adoption/guardianship are appropriate plans for the youth and an alternate plan for permanency needs to be established. Since that summer, Teen Focus staff have been present for over 100 APPLA hearings each year, providing permanency consultation and a point of referral for youth, the court, and DCYF.
In addition, Adoption RI and RI Family Court worked together to create a document to assist youth in preparing for their court hearings, asking questions related to their understanding of their permanent goal and plan; self-identified needs; permanency options; and ability to participate in typical activities for youth their age. This form is the first of its kind to not only help youth prepare for their court hearing, but also to include the youth’s voice in their permanent court file.
Designed to serve up to 54 youth at a time, the Teen Focus program has consistently been at or near capacity since its inception in January 2017.
Between March 2017 and December 2018, the Teen Focus program served a total of 77 youth, ages 16-21.
Despite research demonstrating the negative outcomes for youth aging out of the foster care system and the challenges faced by the youth served by Teen Focus, this program is documenting progress for many of the referred youth in several key domains (outcomes are reported for youth who participated in the program for 6 months or more. A total of 35 youth closed their cases to Teen Focus on or before December 31, 2018; 26 of the 35 closed cases were youth served for more than 6 months).
- 73% of the participating youth that exited the program, left foster care with meaningful legal or relational permanent at case closure. This included youth who were able to achieve reunification with their birth parents, placement with relatives and/or other networks of family support.
- Of the 77 youth served in 2017 and 2018, 54 were engaged in some type of education (high school, GED program, college, college exploration)
- A total of 26 Teen Focus participants achieved a high school diploma or GED; 8 came to the program with their diploma and another 18 earned their diploma/GED while enrolled in Teen Focus
- 16 of the 26 high school graduates (62%) had some involvement in higher education, a rate far exceeding the national average