Transitioning to Adulthood
The Iowa Department of Human Services offers several options for youth that are preparing to exit the system. Below you will find a brief description of the available resources and links to related sites.
Transition Planning Specialists
The Department has 5 Transition Planning Specialist (TPS), one in each service area, who focus on the overall transition process/protocol for older youth in foster care who are expected to age out of foster care. The TPS are available to staff (DHS and JCS), care providers, and other key stakeholders to provide training on the components of transition planning, community resources available, and to consult with regarding experienced difficulties for youth to successfully transition from foster care into young adulthood. As teens prepare to exit the foster care system at age 18, there are numerous issues that must be taken into consideration. Transition planning should begin well before the youth prepares to exit the system in order to have a solid discharge plan when the time comes for the youth to be on their own. Not only does the youth need to have developed life skills while in care, they need to have a plan for continuing education or employment, housing, access to health care, and maintaining a positive support system. The TPS is prepared to assist with these issues and many more. Please view the Iowa Map to locate the TPS in your area.
The Transition Information Packet (TIP) is a resource for youth preparing to enter adulthood. TIP contains information on Education, Employment, Money Management, Housing, Health and Transportation. Youth who are referred to a TPS will receive a copy of the TIP, others may view it here.
The purpose of Aftercare is to provide services and supports to youth aged 18, 19 or 20 who were formerly in foster care. The primary goal of the program is for participants to achieve self-sufficiency and to recognize and accept their personal responsibility for the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
Iowa DHS contracted a private agency to administer the Iowa Aftercare Services Network (IASN). IASN is a network of private agencies across the state to assist youth as they leave foster care and enter adulthood.
Aftercare participants whoattend college or a work training program, or who are employed, may be eligible for a PAL living stipend.
While the PAL stipend will not start until the youth leaves state paid foster care, Pre-PAL services can start before youth age out to help build a relationship with the Self-Sufficiency Advocate or rent an apartment. Pre-PAL consists of up to ten meetings with the Self-Sufficiency Advocate.
Medicaid for Independent Young Adults (MIYA)
The purpose of the Medicaid for Independent Young Adults (MIYA) program is to provide continued health coverage to young adults transitioning to independency from state care and custody.
MIYA Eligibility Definitions
MIYA currently provides Medicaid coverage to eligible youth who are:
Living in Iowa,
Under age 21,
Who were in a foster care placement when they turned age 18,
Left foster care on or after May 1, 2006, and
Have countable income under 200% of the Federal poverty level.
Youth covered under the MIYA program receive the same services as any other child under 21who is eligible for Medicaid. Youth covered by the MIYA program receive covered services through existing Medicaid provider networks.
Contact your DHS county office for an application.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
There are several resources available that will assist youth with college expenses. The first step in receiving any type of financial aid for college is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. The FAFSA is the application for federal grants and scholarships (like the Pell Grant) and must be completed if the student is to receive any financial aid. The results of the FAFSA determine how much financial aid each student will receive.
Students who exit foster care at age 18 or older, can answer 'yes' to question #55 which asks,
"At anytime since you turned 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?" By answering yes, the student will be treated as an independent student and no parental information is required. Students who answer 'yes' to this question should anticipate that the college/university will require proof of their fostercare/ward of the court status. Most colleges/universities will accept a copy of the court order placing them into the care of DHS or a letter from a social worker on DHS letterhead.
The FAFSA should be completed in January for students intending to start college in August.
For assistance completing the FAFSA, please contact your Transition Planning Specialist.
- The State of Iowa offers two programs to help pay for college:
- Education & Training Voucher Grant
Up to $5,000 per year per student. Youth must have a high school credential (either a GED or diploma) and must:
Age out of care (leave care w/i 30 days of turning 18), or
Be adopted from foster care after the age of 16, or
Enter a subsidized guardianship after reaching age 16
Youth must be under the age of 21 the first time they participate in the ETV program (meaning they must be attending class and receive a disbursement prior to age 21). Funding can continue until the age of 23.
Students must reapply each year and are required to meet the academic progress standards of the college/university or make satisfactory progress towards completion of the training program to renew this grant
- All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant
Youth must have high school credential (either a GED or diploma) and must:
1. Be an Iowa resident
2. Attend an Iowa college or university
3. Age out of care (leave care within 30 days of turning 18), or
Be adopted from foster care after the age of 16, or
Age out of the state training home or Iowa juvenile home (leave placement within 30 days of turning 18)
4. Youth must be under the age of 23 the first time they participate in the All Iowa Opportunity Foster Care Grant program (youth must be attending class and receive a disbursement prior to turning 23). Funding can continue until the age of 24.
5. Students must reapply each year and are required to meet the academic progress standards of the college/university or make satisfactory progress towards completion of the training program to renew this grant.
Almost all colleges and universities have a Student Services office on campus. The Student Service office can offer:
- instruction in basic study skills
- tutorial services
- academic, financial, or personal counseling
- guidance on career options
Students should ask the college or university they are attending about services offered at that campus.
Achieving Maximum Potential (AMP) is Iowa’s Youth Council for children in foster care and youth transitioning to adulthood. Local AMP youth councils are facilitated by local partner agencies subcontracted by lead agency Youth and Shelter Services Inc. AMP offers leadership opportunities, service learning projects, speaking opportunities, and educational/vocational assistance to youth ranging from ages 13 and up who have been involved in foster care, adoption or other out-of-home placements. AMP provides the life skills foster care youth need to become self-sufficient, independent adults. AMP’s youth engagement efforts can be summarized by the motto “nothing about us, without us.” AMP involves young people as advocates for themselves and as a voice for system-level improvements in child welfare policies and practices. Visit ampiowa.org for more information.