4310. Transitioning Youth for Successful Adulthood

Original Date: October 31, 2019

Sunset Review Date: October 31, 2023

Approved by: Jody Becker, Deputy Secretary Children and Families


To provide direction and guidance to Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) child welfare employees on how to effectively engage, support, and prepare youth who are age 12 and older so that youth become successful in their transition to adulthood by:

  • Continuing to develop their life skills.
  • Having permanent connections.
  • Having a voice and can advocating for their needs.
  • Being able to seek out community resources.
  • Having access to continuing education and job readiness.


This policy applies to DCYF child welfare employees.


RCW 13.34.100  Appointment of attorney for child

Chapter 71A RCW Developmental Disabilities

RCW 74.13.031 Duties of department - child welfare services           

RCW 74.13.341 Transition plan - Qualification for developmental disability services

RCW 74.13.540 Independent Living Services

RCW 74.14A.020 Services for emotionally disturbed and mentally ill children, potentially dependent children, and families-in-conflict.

42 U.S.C.  677 John H. Chafee Foster Care Independent Living Act

PL 106-169 John H. Chafee Foster Care Independent Living Act

PL 112-34 Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act

PL 113-183 Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act


Caseworkers must:

  1. Throughout the life of a case:
    1. Encourage youth engagement by:
      1. Including them in discussions when assessing their physical and behavioral health, dental care, safety, and well-being during monthly visits. Refer to the Caseworker Health and Safety Visits with Child Guide for additional information.
      2. Involving them in case planning and decision making, and encouraging them to voice their opinions.
      3. Providing services and resources to address life skills, education, health, and employment.
      4. Following the Indian Child Welfare (ICW) Policies and Procedures when the youth is or may be a member, or is the biological youth of a member and eligible for membership in a federally recognized tribe.
      5. Providing culturally responsive resources and supports which address their needs per the Supporting LGBTQ+ Identified Children and Youth policy. Needs may include:
        1. Race
        2. Ethnicity
        3. Sexual orientation
        4. Gender identity
        5. Gender expression
        6. Ability
    2. Follow the Educational Services and Planning: Early Childhood Development, K-12 and Post-Secondary policy to support school success by reviewing education progress, available supports, as needed, and possible scholarships. 
    3. When a youth is dependent:
      1. Complete a family assessment and case plan in partnership with the youth, family, community partners, and the tribe, if applicable.
      2. Court report development
        1. Complete the Comprehensive Family Evaluation (CFE) using the Court Report Mapping and Guidance document. 
        2. Gather information and input from:
          1. Health and Safety Visits
          2. Shared Planning Meeting (SPM)
          3. The youth and individuals known to them, to include but not limited to:
            1. Two identified supports
            2. Caregivers
            3. Parents and other family members, when appropriate
            4. Independent Living Services (ILS) providers or other providers working with the youth
            5. Tribal representative, if applicable
            6. Education professionals and advocates
            7. Missing from care locators
          4. Include the following information about the:
            1. Caregiver’s use of prudent parenting.
            2. Youth’s perspective on their permanent plan.
            3. Youth’s activities, to include, but not limited to:
              1. Normal childhood activities
              2. Cultural activities
              3. Progress in services
              4. Transitional and permanency goals
              5. Identified activities to promote independence, etc.
      3. Verify that:
        1. Permanency planning efforts are occurring.
          1. For youth up to age 18, efforts include:
            1. Non-Parental Custody
            2. Guardianship
            3. Adoption
            4. Reunification
            5. Permanent Connections
          2. For youth ages 18 through 20, this includes the ongoing review of their Transition Plan and identifying permanent connections.
        2. SPMs are held at the required timeframes per the Guide to Shared Planning Meetings DCYF 22-1688 publication.
      4. Long Term Foster or Relative Care Agreements are not a permanent plan. If these are the proposed plans, follow the Permanent and Concurrent Planning policy. 
      5. Refer youth to the following service providers or community resources:
        1. Developmental Disability Administration (DDA) when a youth may be eligible for developmental disability (DD) services. Services for the youth may extend beyond the age of 18. 
        2. Designated mental health provider for a Wraparound Intensive Screen (WISe) screen when a youth has complex behavioral health needs, per the WISe policy.
        3. Apple Health Core Connections (AHCC) care coordinator to access all Medicaid covered benefits, e.g., Substance Abuse Disorder, counseling, primary health care services, and reproductive health services.
      6. If youth have complex or high-level service needs, coordinate with the Regional BRS program manager to see if BRS Services are appropriate, per BRS policy.
      7. Follow the Youth Missing from Care policy when dependent youth run from their out-of-home placement to quickly locate them, address their reasons for leaving, and develop a run prevention plan. 
      8. Verify the Commercially Sexually Exploited Child (CSEC) Screening DSHS 15-476 form located on the DCYF intranet is completed when required in the CSEC policy.
      9. Verify the unique needs of a pregnant or parenting youth are addressed per the Pregnant and Parenting policy.
  2. Complete the following activities for youth:
    1. Ages 12 through 18 years
      If a parent whose parental rights are terminated contacts DCYF, the Guardian ad Litem (GAL), or attorney about reinstating their parental rights, notify the dependent youth of their right to petition the court per the Reinstatement of Parental Rights policy.
    2. Ages 12 through 20 years
      1. Discuss youth’s right to an attorney if one is not already assigned. If the youth declines, continue to ask them if they want an attorney whenever a motion or petition is filed that affects their placement, services, or familial relationships.
      2. Document youth’s decision to request or decline an attorney in case notes and the court report.
      3. Provide a hard or electronic copy of the "Your Rights, Your Life: A Resource for Youth in Foster Care" booklet annually to youth and discuss with them in an age appropriate manner.
      4. Review the Rights of Children Foster Care DCYF 09-127 form annually with the youth and request for them to sign. Provide a copy to them and upload a copy into FamLink.
    3. Ages 14 through 20 years
      1. Credit Reports
        1. Assist youth in obtaining and reviewing their consumer credit report annually through www.annualcreditreport.com.
        2. Review the credit report with the youth and identify any discrepancies. If discrepancies are identified, assist the youth in contacting the nationwide consumer credit reporting company that provided the credit report. Follow dispute instructions at each of the following websites:
          1. Equifax - www.investigate.equifax.com
          2. Experian - www.experian.com
          3. TransUnion - www.transunion.com
        3. Document these discussions with the youth in FamLink and in the court report.
      2. Follow the SPM policy. During the SPM:
        1. In addition to inviting other SPM participants identified in the Guide to Shared Planning Meetings DCYF 22-1688, ask the youth to identify at least two support persons to attend the meeting who are not the caseworker or caregiver.
          1. One of the support persons selected may be designated to be the youth’s advocate when discussing normal childhood activities under the reasonable prudent parenting standard.
          2. Any support person identified by the youth must be able to act in the youth’s best interest. If the caseworker or tribal agency has good cause to believe the youth’s identified support person is not acting in the best interest, that person may be asked to leave the meeting.
        2. Discuss services and activities needed to support the youth and their transition to adulthood. Topics must include:
          1. Education
          2. Employment
          3. Housing
          4. Health insurance
          5. Mentors and continuing supports
          6. Independent living (IL) goals
        3. Document the services and activities in the Shared Planning DCYF 14-474 form and include in the development of the court report.
        4. Provide a copy of the Shared Planning DCYF 14-474 form to the shared planning participants.
    4. Ages 15 through 20 years
      1. Casey Life Skills Assessment (CLSA)
        1. Assist the youth annually to complete the CLSA located on the Casey Life Skills Secure Force website. ILS providers may be available to also assist the youth in completing the form. Contact your local office IL coordinator to see if this service is available.
        2. Enter the CLSA completion date on the assessment tab of the IL page.
        3. Upload the completed CLSA in FamLink.
        4. Review and discuss the CLSA during the SPM and the development of the youth’s court report and transition plan.
      2. ILS
        1. Discuss ILS with dependent youth placed out-of-home for a minimum of 30 days and their caregiver.
        2. If the youth is interested in participating in ILS services, email a completed Independent Living Services Referral form in FamLink to the local provider or to the regional transition services lead depending on the region’s protocol.
        3. If the youth declines ILS or the IL contracted provider is at capacity:
          1. Provide community resources, activities, and supports to help them increase their IL skills.
          2. Continue to offer ILS.
      3. Document any National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) elements provided to the youth including discussions and activities relating to ILS and transitional needs of the youth in the NYTD section of the IL page in FamLink.
      4. Follow the Washington State Identicard, Instruction Permit and Personal Driver License for Foster Youth policy for youth to obtain a state issued photo identification card, Instruction Permit, and Personal Driver License.
    5. Ages 16 through 20 years
      1. Coordinate with the local school district in the development of the Special Education Transition Plan for any youth receiving special education services per the Education Services and Planning: Early Childhood Development, K-12 and Post-Secondary policy.
      2. Discuss the youth’s interest in reconnecting with their biological family. This includes discussing skills and strategies to safely reconnect with any identified family member and provide guidance and services to assist the youth. These can occur during SPM, health and safety visits, etc.
      3. Discuss and provide written information about the EFC Program during health or safety visits, SPM, etc.
    6. Ages 17 through 20 years:
      1. Follow Transition Plan (for Dependent Youth 17 through 20 Years) policy.
      2. Verify the Transition Plan for Youth Exiting Care DCYF 15-417 form is completed 90 calendar days before they exit either:
        1. Foster care and turns age 18.
        2. The EFC Program.
  3. Prior to the youth’s 18th birthday or throughout the life of the case as needed, provide the following items and information to the youth:
    1. Certified or original birth certificate.
    2. Social Security card.
    3. State issued photo identification.
    4. Copies of all medical and education records.
    5. Health insurance card.
    6. A copy of the Dependent / Ward of the Court Verification Letter DCYF 09-056 to prove they were previously in foster care.
    7. Verify youth have a state issued photo identification card.


CA Caseworker Health & Safety Visits with Child Guide (located on the DCYF CA intranet)

Casey Life Skills Assessment (CLSA)

Dependent / Ward of the Court Verification Letter DCYF 09-056

Independent Living Services Referral DCYF 15-353 (located on the DCYF CA intranet)

Rights of Children and Youth in Foster Care DCYF 09-127

Shared Planning DCYF 14-474 (located on the DCYF CA intranet)

Transition Plan for Youth Exiting Foster Care DCYF 15-417 (located on the DCYF CA intranet)


Adolescent DCYF intranet page 

Caseworker Guide to Transition Planning for Youth

Guide to Shared Planning Meetings DCYF 22-1688

Independent Living referral E-Learning FamLink training

The Driver’s Assistance Program

Your Rights, Your Life: A Resource for Youth in Foster Care Booklet

Washington State’s Programs for Foster Youth: Independent Living, Transitional Living, and Education and Training Voucher