If you’ve been in foster care, you’ve probably heard of a Transition to Independent Living Plan, or TILP.

A TILP is a document that you create with your social worker or probation officer, if you were on probation, to help you set goals and share those goals with everyone involved in supporting you.

Remember: Your TILP is about defining small goals for you that help you reach bigger goals. Nobody else can tell you what should be in your TILP. A TILP is your roadmap to your future!

How do you make a TILP?

First, you meet with your social worker or probation officer and decide what goals you want to reach within the next 6 months. Your goals can be related to school, work or other things related to being more independent, like learning to drive or cook for yourself.

What should my TILP cover?

Your TILP is all about you. It should cover anything you feel like you need to build a life. That might include help with education, like finding a tutor, or financial aid for college. You might want to find your own apartment, and need help learning how to locate and apply for apartments. Your TILP can also be about important relationships in your life. If you want to reconnect with a parent, or get in touch with a sibling in foster care and spend time together, those goals may also be included in your TILP.

What if the goals on my TILP are not the goals I want?

If the goals written on your TILP are not the goals you want for yourself, do not sign the document. Nobody should tell you what to put in your TILP. If you feel pressured to put things in your TILP that aren’t your own ideas, explain to your social worker or probation officer what you really want and don’t want. Your attorney will also help you make sure your TILP represents your true goals. If you’re not sure who your attorney is, contact the Children’s Law Center or ask your social worker. Remember, your attorney works for you; they are there to help you get what you need.

What happens if I want to change my goals?

People change their goals in life all the time. Your TILP is flexible. You can always ask for a meeting with your team to change your TILP. The law says your TILP has to be updated every six months, but you can update it as often as you want.

What if one of my goals is harder to achieve than I expected?

That’s okay! It happens all the time. Ask for help! Give copies of your TILP to the people in your life, like your job coach, foster parent, friend, or mentor. Make adjustments to your TILP anytime your life goals or circumstances change.

What if I am not getting the support or services I need to meet my goals?

If you are asking for help in achieving your goals and still not getting it, make sure you tell your attorney or the judge at your next court hearing. By law, the judge has to review your TILP every six months to make sure that you are getting the help you need to reach your goals.

TILP example:

It might be helpful for you to see someone else’s TILP and get an idea of how to write one. You’ll find a sample TILP document here.

The Alliance for Children’s Rights can help you create a TILP and get the help you need to accomplish your goals. Email youth@kids-alliance.org or call 213.368.6010 to get started.