Vol. 15, No. 2 • May 2011

Futures Ready: A Free Curriculum for Emerging Adults

Young adults with severe emotional or behavioral disorders have higher dropout rates than any other disability group. They are also less likely to attend post-secondary school than other disability groups. Their challenges are not only educational—they face daily difficulties exacerbated by inappropriate emotional and behavioral responses due to a lack of self-regulation.

Caregivers of these emerging young adults often ask: How can I best support a young adult struggling with severe emotional or behavioral disorders? What unique challenges do they face as they prepare for life as an adult?

Young people often ask, how is my life going to change when I turn 18? Will I be able to enroll in college, own the car of my dreams, and buy a house? How will I pay for it?

Staff within child-serving agencies ask, how can I get young people to be more involved in the planning process, care about their futures, and be actively engaged in the activities outlined in their plan?

Answers to these questions are addressed in a free workshop entitled: Futures Ready! A Transition Curriculum Geared to Young Adult’s Struggling with Severe Emotional or Behavioral Disorders and/or Substance Abuse Issues. The curriculum was developed and is delivered by those impacted directly by the training—family, youth, and staff who use mental health services for their family or themselves.

About the Workshop
The Futures Ready workshop is action-oriented. It actively engages participants in understanding how services and everyday life changes for emerging young adults who struggle with mental wellness issues. A central feature of the workshop is “Futures Planning,” a youth-led mapping process that is guided by an adult in their life and supported by an individualized team that has been identified by the young adult. You may have heard these teams referred to as Child and Family Teams (CFTs).

Caregivers and child-serving agency staff learn Futures Planning as a ready-to-use skill during the first session of the workshop, where they are exposed to and practice motivational interviewing and graphic facilitation. Using these tools, adults can effectively assist the young person to develop a plan that reflects their personal experiences, articulates a positive vision of their future, problem solves around current issues, and identifies potential barriers. The emerging young adult takes ownership of their plan because it is developed by them, not for them.

By the end of the workshop participants will have:

  • Gained a clearer understanding of transition-related issues as they relate to young adults with severe emotional disturbance and/or substance abuse issues;
  • Examined the delivery of child and adult mental health services;
  • Explored the laws, policies, and procedures that govern decisions made across multiple service sectors (education, employment, mental health, child welfare, juvenile justice, public health, housing, etc.);
  • Developed a Futures Ready! transition plan using a CFT approach that is youth-driven and family/caregiver-guided, with cross-systems agencies including school-staff involved.

Want to Host the Workshop?
Thanks to a grant from the NC Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services, NC Families United, (National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health) is pleased to offer Futures Ready throughout the state as a free resource to youth, families, and cross-system agencies to improve transition outcomes.

Workshop At-A-Glance

The Futures Ready workshop requires at least six participants representative of these three groups:

Young Adults ages 14-26 with severe emotional disturbances and/or co-occurring disabilities or who struggle with mental wellness issues;

Families/Caregivers or natural supports of transition-aged young adult who support them in transition preparedness activities;

Cross-System Agency Staff (including school staff) who are involved in the health/education for young adults under and over the age of 18 who struggle with mental wellness, students receiving special education services under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), or currently served under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

The workshop consists of three parts which can be delivered in 2-3 days over the course of 1-2 weeks. Parts one and two are delivered to each group separately. For part three, participants join together to enable each young adult participating in the training to leave with a transition plan in hand.

For more information on hosting this workshop in your area contact: Damie Jackson-Diop, Youth Transition Program Director, North Carolina Families United, NFFCMH, Inc. ([email protected]; phone: 919/675-1737), visit www.ncfamiliesunited.org or join NC Families United on Facebook.

Copyright 2011 Jordan Institute for Families