Jan 21 2016
By Steven Olender
When we began the Transitioning Youth Project (TYP) in 2009, we did so to meet unaddressed needs of kids aging out of the foster care system. A study from Casey Family Programs found that 19.8% of teens who aged out spent some time homeless, that one in three had been arrested, one in four incarcerated and one in five convicted of a crime and that over one-third were living below the poverty line. We knew something had to be done.
Our mission for TYP was clear but never simple: to provide youth at risk of aging out of the foster care system with a greater ability to achieve success as independent healthy adults through specialized advocacy in the areas of Education, Preparation and Healthy Connections.
To that end, we commit to meeting the educational needs of youth in our care by helping them chart their path, be it college, GED, the Armed Forces or vocational school, and by ensuring they have the tools and support they need to be successful on that path. We help prepare them for adulthood and the coming transition much in the same way that a parent would, helping to chart their way to their goals and making sure they have the services they need to be ready. And we help them build a network of healthy connections to be a support once they age out of CASA and CPS care.
These priorities are not changing for TYP, but our overriding objective at CASA and what we know provides the best outcomes for children in care is to find permanency. The name Transitioning Youth Project doesn't reflect that objective. And names matter. They help us to set our priorities and they tell the world about those priorities. Most importantly for CASA, they tell the kids we serve what our priorities are for their lives and their futures.
It is in that spirit that TYP will now be known as TAPP, the Teen Advocacy and Permanency Project. This new name will remind us that our goal for every child is a permanent family and will remind the kids we serve that CASA will not settle for anything less than their best interest. It will remind us why we've doubled the size of this program in the years since its inception and why we've expanded these services to include younger kids so our specialized advocacy can have a greater impact.
With the new name, Teen Advocacy and Permanency Project, we renew our commitment to the specific needs of teens in our care. We renew our commitment to seek permanency for every child and we renew our commitment to ready them for adulthood by focusing on education, preparation and healthy connections. We do this because additional specialized advocacy is in the best interest of teens, not because we've resigned ourselves to them aging out of care.
TAPP will be the same powerful voice for teens in the child welfare system that TYP has been for more than six years. Our belief is that, with our new name, that voice will be clearer, it will be more focused and it will be better suited to the best interest of children we serve.
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