STEP, the teen-focused foster care arm of Lutheran Family Services, trains foster families to help transition teens in foster care into adulthood. Teens in foster care are among the most vulnerable youth in our community and the STEP program was created to assist foster teens as well as their foster families with their transition to independence.
“Being a foster parent is hard, but being in foster care is harder.”
-LFS foster parent
As partners and resources for teens in the child welfare system, STEP teaches successful habits by placing teens in supportive foster homes and gradually increasing their responsibilities. This includes completing chores, earning an allowance and potentially getting a job, all in the hopes of helping move the teens toward supported independence.
How STEP works
Step 1: Increased Responsibilities to Build Independence
- There are two ways teens can enter the STEP program:
- Initial placement of teens aged 14-17 in LFS foster care
- Teens already in LFS foster care begin the program when they turn 14
- Once in the program, teens are increasingly given responsibilities in their personal lives and around the house
- Foster families are given toolkits, support resources, and guidance to help them delegate responsibilities and navigate the additional stressors that can accompany the placement of a teenager
Step 2: Interdependent Foster Living
- Teens, ages 16 –18
- The level of responsibility given to foster teens continues to increase, preparing them to navigate the world outside of the foster care system
Step 3: Family-Supported Independent Living
- Ages 18+
- Foster teens, now young adults, may be afforded the opportunity to live in independent housing, with the understanding that their foster family and LFS will remain involved to support them and provide guidance
- Increasing responsibility for teens parallels the “real world”
- Assistance securing independent housing with ongoing supportive services for teens reduces the probability that STEP teens emancipating from foster care will experience homelessness
- Continued support for both teens and families helps them navigate the challenges of adolescence
- Support after teens turn 18 ensures they know they have accessible and dependable resources
LFS is here for you every step of the way
Sign up to learn more about STEP and how we can work together to help Colorado’s teens succeed.