The Department encourages youth to take an active role in all aspects of planning for services. Through many different opportunities and programs, adolescent services offers support and understanding, as well as information and opportunities for growth.
The Emerging Futures program at Massachusetts DCF makes funding available for youth and young adults to engage in activities that create positive youth development. The programs focus on skill building and permanency attainment in order to support the well -being of youth and young adults in out of home placement.
- Life Skills Support Program - Provides Funds for youth ages 14-21 in placement to support their life skills development needs, such as bus passes, SAT fees, athletic uniforms, sports fees, senior class expenses, etc.
- Employment/Internship Program - DCF works with community partners to help youth gain employment experience. Assist youth in identifying career interests and internship placements that will provide career building experience. DCF has partnered with state agencies and private companies to match youth to summer employment opportunities.
- Discharge Support Program - Provides financial and Outreach support to youth discharging from DCF at or after age 18 who are not returning home or adopted, including money toward first and last months’ rent, security deposit, initial utilities charges, as well as support with budgeting, home management, employment, etc.
Adolescent Outreach Workers
DCF Adolescent Outreach Workers provide intensive, individualized life skills assessment and training to youth in out-of-home placement, helping to prepare them to cope with the challenges of adulthood and lead productive lives within the community following agency discharge. The model allows for a highly individualized approach and accommodates youth with a variety of clinical issues and cognitive functions. Following discharge from the program youth receive aftercare services for 6 months. Outreach staff maintain contact with youth to monitor their functioning in the community and to provide support and to maintain youth’s self-sufficiency. Former foster care youth who left agency care at age 18 or older are also eligible for Outreach services.
Preparing Adolescents for Young Adulthood (PAYA)
PAYA is a life skills curriculum designed to assist youth with building concrete skills and relationships needed to live successfully as a young adult. PAYA is based on the premise that all youth need at least one connection to a permanent, caring adult in order for life skills to be sustained. DCF social workers, outreach workers, foster parents, and contracted providers assist youth in locating, building, and maintaining relationships with caring adults and provide training to learn money management, personal care, job seeking, parenting, healthy relationships, housing, and other essentials through community based, real-life experiences. Youth and young adults who participate in life skills training are eligible to receive incentives while in foster care.