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Council members share priorities around reducing vulnerability & transition planning

Council members of the National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council met on October 9, 2012, with the George Sheldon, Assistant Secretary of the Administration for Children and Families, to discuss reducing foster youth vulnerability to predators and transition planning challenges.The Council presented two series of priorities to Sheldon and various federal stakeholders. The priorities were compiled using poll results administered to youth and alumni of foster care. The Council established small work groups to discuss poll results, review other relevant research, and identify policy priorities.

The first series, Reducing Vulnerability of Foster Youth to Sexual Trafficking and Predators, outlines eight priorities. Council members are highly concerned that young people are not receiving the training and support they need to protect themselves.

The second series, Improving the Transition to Independent Adulthood, includes two overarching themes that encapsulate the problems with services provided for transition-aged youth. The first theme, identified as a need for national standards for independent living and problems, acknowledges that while states need flexibility to design programs to meet the specific needs of their youth, foster youth would be best served if the Administration for Children and Families provided a model for state independent living programs to follow. The second them identified barriers in working with multiple system as a youth transitions from foster care, such as health, housing, mental health, education, and, in some cases, the juvenile justice system. The Council believes that if youth are truly going to be prepared for life after foster care, members of each system need to be included in the transition planning process.

Prior to the meeting with George Sheldon, members of the Council met over three days to formally adopt the priorities, review progress on previous priorities areas, and begin new work on their next round of priorities. Future topics the Council will focus on include mental health and normalcy for foster youth.