IOFA aims to establish a comprehensive support system for youth aging out of alternative care and to build awareness about the issues that this vulnerable population confronts. IOFA has conducted initial assessments in Cambodia and Ethiopia, and our findings demonstrate that youth are unprepared and often unaware of the challenges of the aging‐out process. Often they lack critical life skills and a secure place to live when they leave care. They are extremely vulnerable to human trafficking, sexual and labor exploitation, and recruitment by gangs, organized crime, and militant groups. Service providers and other agencies have expressed a great deal of worry about this vulnerable population, but few resources exist to minimize the vulnerability of youth leaving care.
The Transitions Initiative will include five primary components:
- An orphanage‐based life skills curriculum that prepares young people to age out of care
- A centralized support program or center where youth could access a safe social network, life skills training, family re‐integration assistance, educational resources, vocational training, income generating opportunities, and other key support mechanisms
- A coordinated service referral network of local NGOs willing to work with this population
- A global network of organizations researching and working on the issue
- Ongoing youth-informed research and assessment
The overall goal of the Transitions Initiative is to create opportunities for orphaned youth to integrate into the social and economic fabric of their communities while reducing dependency on the need for future support. The Transitions Initiative builds on past IOFA efforts to protect vulnerable adolescents and to support orphaned youth transitioning to adulthood. IOFA will establish partnerships with local NGOs to help launch the Transitions Initiative with a focus on Sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia. After evaluating the impact of the first implementation of the Transitions Initiative, IOFA will replicate project components in additional countries around the world.