The transition to adulthood can be overwhelming, especially for a youth transitioning from foster care where they have experienced trauma and instability from a young age. Offering support and a stable connection can make all the difference for a youth entering adulthood. One of the many practical ways to encourage a successful transition to adulthood is to walk through this healthcare checklist with your foster care youth:
Discuss health insurance
Discussing health care coverage is an important way that you can prepare your youth for adulthood. Discuss whether they will be on Medicaid or receiving insurance benefits through an employer and create a list of steps that need to be taken to ensure that they will have coverage after they leave foster care and age out of their current insurance plan.
You can also read over the fine print on their health insurance plan and help them to understand their coverage, co-pays, and deductibles. This is also a good opportunity to discuss whether they have vision and dental coverage.
Find healthcare providers
After making important decisions about health insurance, you can help prepare your foster care youth for adulthood by assisting them in finding healthcare providers. If they see pediatric doctors, they’re relocating, or they’re getting different health insurance, they may need to switch providers. This can ensure there is no lapse in care for ongoing health issues and it can save them the stress of not knowing where to call when they have a medical need. In addition to helping them find their primary care doctors, you can also help them locate the hospital and urgent care facilities.
Encourage communication with the health care team
Encourage your foster care child to voice their concerns and ask their questions at their doctor’s appointments. As your youth prepares for adulthood, you can also equip them to do practical tasks like scheduling their appointments and reviewing paperwork and prescription information with you. These tasks will help them gain confidence while equipping them to communicate with their health care team as an adult.
Kickstart the paperwork
You can help relieve stress and overwhelm by scheduling a time to sit down and review any paperwork they may need to submit for health insurance, new doctors, and other health services. This can help establish you as a stable support that they can reach out to, as well as help them voice any concerns and questions that they may have.
Encourage healthy habits
Set your child up for success as they transition to adulthood by encouraging and modeling healthy habits. Invite your child to work out with you and help them find a method of exercise that they enjoy. You can spend time building a relationship and teaching them healthy recipes by spending time in the kitchen together. Meal planning, meal prepping, and grocery shopping are all practical activities to involve them in.
Don’t forget mental health
The transition to adulthood can be stressful, but it can be especially stressful for foster care youth that lacks a support system and has experienced trauma. This is one of the many reasons that it is important to not forget to create a plan for mental health support.
Explore what mental health resources are available to your child as they enter adulthood. If your foster care youth is already receiving support from mental health professionals, encourage them to create a plan with them for support that extends into adulthood. This is a great opportunity to create a list of mental health resources that they can reach out to. Your youth’s social worker may have a list of resources to help you get started!
Supporting the transition to adulthood by supporting them with their many healthcare decisions is an important way to set a foster care youth up for success. At Connections Homes, we understand that the transition from a foster care home to adulthood can be difficult. If you know someone that is about to age out of foster care, we may be able to help them by connecting them to a Mentoring Family who can offer relationship and practical support, like walking through this checklist with them.