The purpose of the proposed project is to develop, implement, and evaluate the use of an Internet-based eLearning multimedia program that will allow foster care social workers, educators, and other youth workers to plan one-day real world simulations that would allow adolescent foster youths, ages 13-21, to learn and practice independent living skills. Research on foster care reveals that the foster care system does not prepare foster teens adequately to transition from being dependent youths to independent self-sufficient adults. As a result, many former foster youths struggle to achieve self-sufficiency and often end up living marginally after leaving foster care. The proposed program, Adolescent Real World Simulation (ARWS) eLearning program, focuses on those who work with adolescent foster youths. It is also intended to assist any professional that works with adolescents to develop the skills necessary to plan and implement an independent living simulation in a real-world environment. In Phase I, the ARWS Introduction to an Adolescent Real World Simulation module Internet-based program was developed to brief adult users on how three distinct components, preparation, management, and follow-up, are used to develop a comprehensive daylong real world youth simulation (Griffin and Carter 2004). The Phase I introductory segment also outlines programming benefits for youths, how to involve community businesses and coordinate aspects of a real world simulation. A Real World Interactive Timeline and the learning modules, Preparation, Management, and Follow-up will be fully developed in Phase II. The educational design of the eLearning process includes use of video, graphics, intermediate learning milestones, customizable documents, and interactive activities to illustrate the three core planning components while teaching users how to use/access the Interactive Timeline. All the parts of this program comprise the Real World Toolkit which becomes an ongoing resource for current and future planning of Real World Simulation events. A project evaluation will be incorporated to measure increases in user's knowledge to plan, coordinate, and complete a real world simulation, and their overall satisfaction with the eLearning program including subsequent motivation to plan an event.
This project has the potential to have a dramatic exponential effect on the number of youths involved in real world simulations and ultimately impact their readiness for self- sufficiency. This potential is significantly higher and more inclusive than many other forms of life skills instruction. This type of training can effectively influence the training approaches of professionals and paraprofessionals who provide life skills programming and who would then conduct one-day events that would touch hundreds of adolescents who are in need of active involvement in their own life skills development and supportive transitions from foster care to the community.