The Transitions Program, a program of Wheaton Youth Outreach, is a critical service for older teens and young adults and their families in DuPage County. It primarily serves young women who are homeless, ages 17 to 24, with the opportunity to become financially and emotionally independent and transition successfully into adulthood.
The process of developing these skills begins by providing residents with a safe and supportive home life, coupled with personalized support, structure and mutually trusting relationships between the residents, their foster parents or host families and the Transitions Program staff.
While in residence, participants learn skills and develop personal habits that will transfer to their independent housing situation after graduation. Residents are responsible for contributing toward the cost of their care through part-time employment that covers a program fee and their personal expenses. They are supported by their case manager to access community resources and obtain services for themselves such as career, education, medical and mental health services and the spiritual care necessary for their well-being.
What are the main components of the program?
While there are many components to the Transitions Program, case management provided within the context of community living is at the heart of the program. This service is present throughout a person’s stay with us.
How long do program participants stay in the program?
While the length of stay varies for each program participant, residents are expected to meet their program goals within two years. The question “How will we know when you are ready to leave?” weaves its way throughout the case management process and is the basis for setting realistic, measurable and meaningful goals. Typically a resident feels ready to move on when she has secured her education, obtained stable employment, owns an affordable car, has access to healthcare, has resolved financial problems and has a savings account that will enable her to secure independent housing on her own or with a roommate.
What are the residential options?
The Transitions Program has a variety of housing options for program participants depending on their personalized needs. Private, licensed foster care homes are available for residents who are finishing up high school and making the transition to college or vocational training. Other participants may receive help from the program to reside with host families that the resident is acquainted with, while others may eventually receive help securing their own apartment with a roommate after they graduate from vocational training programs or junior college and secure full-time employment.
Whether they live with foster parents, a host family or share their own apartment with a roommate, residents typically have their own room and share common areas with their housemates. Household rules are established. Ideally, all residents have positive relationships with one another and those with whom they live, and their home life is a supportive and mutually responsible environment. As with all relationships, there is the potential for conflict to arise. We believe that learning to manage conflict and relationships at home, at work and in social circles will be necessary throughout one’s life. Foster parents, host families and staff are trained and committed to modeling these skills and to teaching these skills to our residents.
Who manages the residential settings?
Foster parents and host families oversee the day-to-day family life in their homes and are responsible for the residents while they reside in their home. They set household expectations and see that these expectations are met by the residents.
Case managers are available to support foster parents, host families and the residents under their care. Case managers have the lead responsibility to ensure residents establish life improvement goals and to help residents succeed with their case plan.
For more information on Transitional Housing Services, contact Wheaton Youth Outreach during office hours at 630.682.1910.