Successful Transition to Adulthood
Advance Care Planning & Directives
Advance Care Planning (ACP) isn’t just for people who are getting older. It is important for all adults to plan for future medical needs now because a serious accident or illness can happen at any age. ACP is a process that supports adults at any age or stage of health in understanding and sharing their personal values, life goals, and preferences regarding future medical care. This involves having conversations with young people about healthcare preferences including who they would choose to make healthcare choices for them if they are unable to do so for themselves. The Arizona Health Care Directives Registry provides information (including relevant forms) on healthcare planning, including advance directives.
Youth under age 18 in foster care can access mental/behavioral health services, including crisis services, through their health plan. The following contacts offer assistance in crisis situations:
- Arizona behavioral health crisis line: Dial 1-844-534-4673 or 1-844-534-HOPE or Text HOPE to 4HOPE (44673), Monday to Friday from 2-10 p.m. and Saturday to Sunday from 8 a.m.-2 p.m.
- Teen Lifeline: phone or text: 602-248-TEEN(8336)
- National crisis line: National suicide prevention hotline: Dial 988 or 1-800-273-8255
- National crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741
Youth may experiment with substances as a part of their normal adolescent development or in response to past or current trauma. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), substance use escalates across adolescence and into young adulthood, and can be intensified by experiences with trauma and maltreatment, mental illness, and exposure to parental alcohol and drug use.
Additionally, more than five people die every day from opioid overdoses in Arizona. Prescription opioids and illegal opioids like counterfeit pills with fentanyl are addictive and can be deadly. Naloxone, or Narcan, is a life-saving drug that can reverse an overdose for a short time until the person can be treated. As of June 9, 2017, anyone in Arizona can pick up naloxone from a pharmacy without a prescription. A doctor or pharmacist can explain when and how to use it.
Services and support are available through several resources, including the health plan. The DCSS may refer a youth for assistance through the Arizona Families First (AFF) contract service. Help is available, call the OARLine at 1-888-688-4222.
For youth who are at least fifteen years of age and are interested in obtaining a driver’s permit and/or a driver’s license, the DCS Specialist, in conjunction with other adults involved with the youth, will provide information to the youth about the responsibility of driving, importance of obeying traffic laws and the need to develop safe driving skills in order to obtain a driver’s license. The DCS Specialist shall provide information to youth about programs that offer driver’s education, as well as information about the Motor Vehicle Department (MVD) requirements for obtaining a driver’s license.
After the youth obtains a license, the youth must be covered under an automobile insurance policy if the youth drives a vehicle. The DCS Specialist will inform the youth of the following:
- The youth must not drive a vehicle at any time without proper insurance.
- Youth who have completed a driver’s education program may contact an insurance company and independently enter into an agreement for motor vehicle liability insurance.
- Foster parent or kinship caregiver may choose to add the youth to their insurance policy.
DCS provides additional supports to youth to obtain their driver’s license through participation in a driver’s education program. Youth should talk with their DCS Specialist about this opportunity.
Healthcare services are provided to young people in foster care up to age 18 through the Mercy Care DCS Comprehensive Health Plan (CHP). Health insurance will transition when a young person reaches the age of 18 and provide coverage through the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS) up to age 26 for youth who exit care and for youth in the Extended Foster Care Program. This AHCCCS coverage is called Young Adult Transitional Insurance or YATI. Youth who did not reach the age of 18 while in foster care may be eligible for another AHCCCS plan. If a youth is receiving Transitional Independent Living Program (TILP) services, they can help explore alternative health insurance programs.
The DCS Specialist will pre-enroll ALL youth who reach the age of majority while in out-of-home care into an AHCCCS plan the month prior to the youth turning 18 years of age by completing and submitting the Young Adult Transitional Insurance (YATI) Referral, FAA-1097. The youth may also create an account with Health-e-Arizona Plus which can support consistent YATI enrollment.
Please review this guide to learn how to navigate HEAplus for health care provided by AHCCCS:
Joining the Military
The reasons a person may join the military vary and range from a desire to defend the country to job and education benefits. The decision whether or not to join the military is a personal decision and differs for everyone. Joining the military is an important decision that can affect the rest of a young person’s life. There are benefits as well as hardships and challenges that come with military service. Benefits include things like career training, housing, pay, health care, education benefits, and pride in contributing to the defense of our country. Challenges may include being away from family, physical challenges, long hours, and potentially being in dangerous situations. Joining the Military: A Guide to Assist Youth in Foster Care and Their Caregivers in Navigating the Military Enlistment Process provides more information on things to consider, process, requirements, and military life, etc.
DCS Policy provides guidance for DCS Specialists who are assisting youth age 17 (and older) who desire to join the military. DCS provides continued support to both youth under 18 who are approved to join the military as well as youth age 18 and older. The DCS case remains open while the youth is completing Basic Training (approximately 7 to 12 weeks) and any subsequent Advanced Individual Training (AIT). Youth who have enlisted in the National Guard or military reserves may remain open unless they are called for full time active duty.
National Youth in Transition Database
The National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) is a federal reporting system designed to gather information about youth and the independent living services they receive from states as they prepare to transition out of the foster care system. Some of this information is collected by DCS staff based on the services youth receive. But importantly, some of this information comes directly from young people through a short survey conducted with cohorts at ages 17, 19, and 21. The survey can be taken over the phone or online. Youth receive a gift card if they participate. The survey asks questions related to their education, housing, health, employment, relationships and foster care experience.
In Arizona, the NYTD survey is conducted with Arizona State University's Center for Child Well-Being. To learn about NYTD and which age group we are surveying this year, visit https://unytdaz.com.
Here's how you can help:
- Share information about the NYTD survey with young people transitioning out of foster care.
- If a young person is eligible for the survey, the ASU team will reach out with an invitation. Young people may reach out to the ASU team for questions or to share updated contact information by visiting the NYTD website at https://unytdaz.com/. The team can also be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 1-888-968-6983 (YouNYTD).
STA Contract Services
The Successful Transition to Adulthood (STA) contract service provides an opportunity for young people to develop and enhance their protective and promotive factors including:
- Youth Resilience,
- Knowledge of Adolescent Brain Development,
- Social Connections,
- Concrete Support in Times of Need, and
- Cognitive and Social-Emotional Competency.
Young people also receive support and resources to increase their ability to live successfully outside of the foster care system. The STA Navigator can assist youth to explore options for life skills training (i.e. through school or community-based curricula/programs including through the behavioral health provider), including providing support to the caregiver to provide youth with opportunities to develop and enhance daily living and other basic life skills.
Young person ages 14 thru 20, in the care and custody of DCS or a federally recognized Tribal foster care program, and in an out of home care setting.
Young Adults age 18 thru 20 who were formerly in the care and custody of DCS, a federally recognized Tribal foster care program, or another State’s foster care program (and is a current resident of Arizona).
The DCS Specialist or a Tribal Social Services Representative will refer the young person by submitting an STA referral form to [email protected].
Youth formerly in foster care may self-refer by contacting (480)651-3348 or sending an email to [email protected].
For more information, contact us at: (480)651-3348
Vital Documents, Health and Education Records
Youth age 16 and older should receive a certified copy of their birth certificate, Social Security card, and state identification card (unless ineligible to receive) as outlined in state policy on Vital Records and Social Security Administration Records. Access to vital documents are often necessary to gain employment, enroll in support programs and pursue education and vocational training. Youth should also receive a document that provides verification of foster care. State policy provides more information on the provision of records and documents to youth preparing transition to adulthood and when discharging from the Extended Voluntary Foster Care Program.
Youth should also receive copies of both their health care and education records. This includes things like:
- the names and addresses of the child’s health care and educational providers;
- immunization and other health records;
- educational assessment scores and school transcripts (report cards);
- special education evaluations (including psycho-educational assessments and evaluations) and related Individualized Education Program (IEP) and Section 504 plans; and
- original diplomas, certificates or degrees earned and other important records.