Hoyleton Pilot Program Succeeds in Helping Youth Transition Out of Foster Care

A three-year pilot program in Southern Illinois is helping CHHSM members meet the needs of youth aging out of the foster system. Clients at Hoyleton Youth and Family Services in Fairview Heights, Ill., have access to the LifeSet pilot program at Hoyleton — a hands-on, youth-driven approach to helping young people in the child welfare system transition into successful adulthood. Now in its third year, the Hoyleton LifeSet program has been so successful that a recently-completed review placed it as a top tier program in the country.

LifeSet is a program of Youth Villages, a Memphis-based nonprofit that provides help for children and young adults across the United States who face a wide range of emotional, mental health, and behavioral struggles. An individualized, evidence-informed, community-based program, LifeSet helps youth in transition to adulthood gain greater agency over their life choices, thus creating positive futures. It kicked off in March 2020 in Southern Illinois.

The program stipulates that LifeSet specialists meet weekly with youth. Caseloads are limited to just six youth, and the weekly meetings help build rapport. With guidance from the specialist, the youth participants set monthly goals, assess their progress and make changes as necessary to their goals. Participants have to be at least 17-1/2 years old to be part of the program.

“Moving away from a brick-and-mortar institutional environment to one where young people have a say in where they live and make their own decisions — along with the guidance of their specialist — helps them become more engaged in the process, with a greater sense of ownership of their future,” Chris Cox, president and CEO of Hoyleton, told Diakonie last year. “Without such a program, there is no learning money management, or learning how to take care of themselves.”

Hannah, a young adult helped by Hoyleton’s LifeSet program.

The LifeSet pilot program has been so successful that Youth Villages asked to include a video of one of the Hoyleton young adults on its website.

During the recent review process, clients expressed what they most appreciated about the program:

  • “My biggest accomplishment includes learning a lot about myself and my personal life. I have always put others before me and I have allowed others to use me. Now, because of LifeSet, I am learning that it is important to practice self-care and put myself first.”
  • “Through LifeSet I am learning how to parent my first child.”
  • “The LifeSet program helped me graduate from high school. I am the first person in my family to graduate from high school!”
  • Multiple clients indicated the feeling of being supported. One client said, “I feel like I am part of a family.”

“Our fiscal year ends June 30, 2023,” said Andrea Nafziger, director of marketing and communications at Hoyleton, “and the program and funding will be reviewed for continuance at that time. The program is going well and we have received positive feedback from both clients and staff involved in the program.”

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