The PEARLS Court Continuum of Care for Aging Out Foster Youth Project addresses the need to support teenage youth before and while aging out of foster care into independence. Three separate and essential components comprised the individualized treatment plan created for each participant of the court; Case Management, Therapeutic Care, and Life Skill Development, alongside a mentor support system. A multidisciplinary team consisting of a Civil District Judge, Court manager, CPS caseworker, attorney, placement representative, community mentor, and the participant assessed needs, determined person-centered goals, and developed a plan for each participant. The Program and Resource Coordinator participated in these multidisciplinary team meetings. This plan addressed educational, mental health, vocational, and support service objectives. PEARLS Court served 62 female clients this program year through direct care services and after care services.
While COVID-19 did alter the way services were provided during the Spring and Summer months, PEARLS Court was able to engage with clients on virtual platforms. In-person events for PEARLS Court were cancelled, however that did not stop the organization from creatively maintaining relationships with youth, mentors, and volunteers. To celebrate high school graduates, PEARLS volunteers hosted 7 individual drive-by graduation parties. To maintain and build upon relationships, PEARLS Court hosted fun-filled zoom nights to teach art, cooking, self-expression, and self-care. Goody bags were hand delivered to each youth that included all the supplies for painting canvases, tie-dying t-shirts, cooking up baked goods, and using skin-refreshing masks. These opportunities kept self-esteem high, deterred depression, and stabilized placement through the stressful experience of COVID-19. Court staff began to emphasize individual one-to-one case management, therapy, and mentoring services in place of group services.