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Sam had a long relationship with her youth agency and she regularly accessed clinical services. Sam came to the agency at 16 and had seen a youth coach for four years. She had a history of mental health concerns, which meant that education had been difficult for her. Sam’s mental illness also meant that she needed a lot of support and attention from services. After working with her youth coach for three years, Sam was going to ‘age out’ of youth services. Her youth coach knew she would need a long time to transition Sam out of the service, so began this work a year in advance. The youth coach knew that because Sam was vulnerable the transition needed to be carefully managed.
The transition work involved goal setting, and connecting Sam to positive activities and support, in order to support Sam into independence. A lot of time was spent supporting Sam to be able to get into education. Sam had been on and off in education due to her mental health. The youth coach supported Sam to meet with polytech pastoral care staff and create a plan for her education going forward. The youth coach also introduced Sam to the gym and she loved it. She connected with a personal trainer and found a new community of people she felt comfortable with and enjoyed going to the gym. This was another step in Sam finding independence.
As Sam’s ‘age out’ date loomed closer the youth coach began talking to Sam about other services she would like involved in her life. Sam felt she still needed support with her education and work prospects. Together, they looked into adult services and decided which one would fit best. The youth coach supported Sam at initial appointments with the adult service that Sam chose, even hosting the first one in her office where Sam felt most comfortable. Sam began attending these appointments on her own.
Once the youth coach felt that Sam was being supported by the appropriate adult service, she began the farewell process with Sam. They had a final coffee together and Sam understood clearly that she had transitioned out of youth services. Rather than Sam being upset or worried, the process had meant that Sam had felt affirmed and assured. The decisions had been made by her, and she felt confident going on to the next service.
Sam still uses the clinical services of the youth service and still says hello to the youth coach when they cross paths. Sam’s transition to independence from youth services was carefully planned meaning that when she needs to ‘age out’ of the clinical services she will be better able to cope.
Resilience Research Centre NZ - Youth Research Site 2013