Preparing youth for living independently is nothing new for Teaching-Parents but Federal regulations, mandating independent living programming for youth who have reached the age of 16, are new. Teaching-Parents in OT-FA are uniquely able to meet those requirements. The Teaching-Family Model emphasis on teaching and practice is particularly well suited for preparing young people for independent living.
At age 16 it is important to assess the current level of skill and knowledge to determine skill deficits and areas to teach. At OT-FA, we use the current assessment software produced by Daniel Memorial to assess youth and to create individual teaching plans. This assessment acts as a guide to ensure that we are teaching all of the basic skills in the assessment.
Our curriculum is derived from Federal mandates and from several independent living programs. The OT-FA program is designed to meet the general needs of all young people to learn independent living skills with these curricula. In addition we address the unique needs of each individual with special instruction, coaching and opportunities to practice. OT-FA parents have three separate houses that have been used successfully with 18-year-olds who live in these homes to test the skills they have learned. When youth are close to their 18th birthday we will discuss the independent living laboratory option.
Recent statistics indicate that most children do not leave home until after they reach the age of 25 and have begun a family. Children without family support are particularly vulnerable for having serious problems at the time of transition from childhood to independent adulthood. We take and enjoy the challenge of preparing at-risk children for independence.
Some elements of teaching independence require more than the technical skills outlined in published programs; some youth have problems that can only be understood by experienced parents, parents who have spent years preparing others for adulthood. It is the unique understanding of long-term, experienced Teaching-Parents that enables us to develop service plans for complex problems. It is important to recognize deficits in exposure to such things as role models with a strong work ethic, exposure and teaching about a wide range of vocational opportunities that school counselors do not consider, recognizing and dealing with a lack of understanding of how a business works. Some youth have no conception of how to assess their talents, interests, and values and how to set and attain goals.
The Ohio Teaching-Family Independent Living Program is systematic, addresses federal guidelines and thoroughly prepares youth for independence.