Transition Services at Methodist Children’s Home has a long-standing history of supporting and meeting the needs of youth who are transitioning into independence.
As far back as the early 1920s, MCH recognized a need to give college assistance to young adults graduating from the MCH program. As the need was recognized and assistance was given, by 1970 a College and Vocational Services program was established to provide scholarships to students pursing a college degree.
Taking notice and adjusting to the needs of the soon-to-be graduates, in 2007 the College and Vocational Services program adapted into an intentional and formal program called Transition Services (TS).
TS provides direct services to MCH residents and day-students attending the charter school on the Waco campus, as well as foster children served by MCH Family Outreach. The TS program supports these young people through advanced education, independent living as well as aftercare services.
The program also works with the student, staff and school officials to explore and determine plans after high school graduation, taking into account the interests of assigned juniors and seniors. Various options include vocational school or college, military service or directly entering the workforce.
Independent Living (IL), a supplemental program that was added to TS in 2012 was added for young people who may not have an outside support system and are in need of additional assistance after graduation. IL gives youth the opportunity to live in on-campus housing that is designated for MCH graduates or at Clay Commons, an MCH-owned apartment complex in Waco (pictured above).
The most recent updates made in the program include working with seniors on a monthly basis with a set curriculum to teach them skills they will need once they leave MCH, and working with juniors throughout each semester. This year there are 24 juniors at the charter school and 32 seniors.
According to Jeff Creel, program administrator for the school and transition services, TS is more than a helpful assistance to young adults, it is also another place MCH staff can engage youth in healthy and intentional relationships.
“We try to walk through the transition process with the students,” Creel said. “Instead of telling a student, ‘This is what you need to do, go do it,’ we share the message of, ‘let me walk through this experience with you.’”
The TS team works diligently to understand the needs, interests and desires of each student in hopes of helping them achieve future success.
“Our goal is to have all students transitioning from care to be prepared for independence,” Creel said. “We want them to have stable housing, employment and to have a supportive network of individuals to help them be successful.”
Christina Gerhardt, director of Transition Services at MCH, believes this program helps the organization continue its legacy of building meaningful connections.
“I think for us, if you look at TS from the very beginning, it’s always been about creating strong relationships,” Gerhardt said. “Everything goes back to the relationships we work to build. In strong healthy relationships we see more success. Once you have that relationship, you can intentionally guide, direct and best support these young people.”
For more information on our Transition Services program, please visit our Transitions Services program page.
Alexis – Graduating Class of 2018
To attend Sam Houston State University to study psychology in hopes of becoming a music therapist.
“I want to help kids someday realize what they have. I want to help them like MCH and psychological services helped me.”
Thoughts on Transition Services:
“TS has been very helpful. They’ve been a big eye-opener and have supported me by walking with me and guided me through this process.”
Jaelyne – Graduating Class of 2018
To attend McLennan Community College and Tarleton State University to become a neonatal nurse.
“One thing I know for sure is that people are always going to need healthcare. I can see myself working with kids. It is so special to watch them grow.”
Thoughts on Transition Services:
“I know that MCH is behind me. MCH and the Transition Services program have done their job and have worked to prepare me for this since I first arrived. My motto is ‘The only way to be on time is to be ahead.’ MCH has helped me get ahead and to map out a plan for my future and to be as prepared as possible.”
Transition Services Timeline
- 1920 – College assistance started for graduates.
- 1970s – The College & Vocational Program created to offer college scholarships.
- 1997 – The College & Vocational Coordinator and School Administrator begin overseeing the College Scholarship Program.
- 2007 – A Director and two Transition Services Coordinator positions are created for an official Transition Services program. Transition Services receives its own office location and includes Advanced Education and After Care services.
- 2009 – Two additional Transition Services Coordinators are added to the team.
- 2012 – Independent Living Program is added. Doss and Birdsong are designated as homes to serve the program.
- 2015 – MCH purchases the Clay Commons apartment complex in downtown Waco, expanding the Independent Living Program as directed by the Strategic Plan.
- 2016 – Transition Services Coordinators start meeting twice a semester with graduated students who are in advanced education. Skype and other technologies are introduced to allow for more direct care for student clients attending school out of state.
- 2017 – Senior meetings transition from being focused on traditional senior events, such as prom and senior trips, to being focused on independent living skills and preparations for advanced education.
- 2018 – Senior meetings are held monthly and are more in-depth with a set curriculum. Transition Services Coordinators begin to meet with high-school juniors.
- Future – Transition Services plans on working intentionally with younger students. The Strategic Plan calls for Transitions Services curriculum to be created for freshman and sophomores in addition to what is being used for junior and senior meetings.