Effective January 1, 2007, Circles of Support and Transition Plan Meetings are offered to youth age 16 years and older, to:
- develop a transition plan for moving from substitute care to adulthood; and
- connect with supportive and caring adults who can help the youth after he or she leaves substitute care.
Circle of Support is the preferred meeting type, but youth may take part in both a Circle of Support and Transition Plan Meeting over time.
Based on the Family Group Decision Making philosophy, Circles of Support are led by the youth and focus on the youth. Participants represent a broad spectrum of the youth’s support network. Circles of Support participants can be a youth’s siblings, birth family members, foster or kinship care providers, teachers, relatives, church members, friends, mentor and so on. These participants come together to develop and review the young person’s transition plan, including strengths, hopes and dreams, goals and needs in the areas of education, employment, health/mental health, housing, and all PAL life skills training components.
Sections have been added to the transition plan to address special needs for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities and to ensure all youth leave care with important personal documents they need, such as birth certificates and social security and identification cards, along with information about benefits and services available, such as health care and education benefits. Each caring adult participant identifies a personal way they can help support the youth’s transition plan and attaining their short- and long-term goals toward self-sufficiency. They then sign the transition plan to seal their agreements. Circles of Support are operating in all 11 regions in the state.
If a youth declines a Circle of Support or one can not be held, a Transition Plan Meeting is held as an alternative. While the primary purpose of the Transition Plan Meeting mirrors that of Circles of Support, a Transition Plan Meeting tends to be a shorter and more DFPS-driven conference, with fewer participants than a Circle of Support.
CPS Family Group Decision Making Specialists oversee and monitor Circles of Support and Transition Plan Meeting coordination and facilitation to ensure that such conferences are used when appropriate and available. Providers and staff utilize a consistent statewide transition plan format with youth age 16 and older. The plan identifies for each youth what services are needed to accomplish goals for transition. Its use across the state and incorporation into the child’s plan of service helps to ensure all youth are receiving consistent services. Procedures for identifying caring adults for youth and involving them in Circles of Support and Transition Plan Meetings help to ensure personal and community connections are incorporated into the transition planning process.