5 Reasons Every Teen In Foster Care Needs A Portfolio


Our Packaged For Success™ Youth Portfolio Development Program helps foster teens put their best foot forward! During our professional portfolio development seminar, youth discover their strengths, record their achievements, create their own definition of success, and plan their future.  The end result is a completed professional portfolio complete with employment tools, academic records, and documentation of community service activities.


1.    professional portfolio is different from a Life Book.

Many states require children in foster care to have a Life Book.  A life book chronicles a teen’s personal life including family background and medical history but a professional portfolio chronicles their academic and career endeavors to give employers, recruiters, and scouts a complete picture of who they are and what they are capable of.

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2.    The process of building a professional portfolio can motivate young people to graduate from high school.  

Research has shown that over 1/3 of young adults in foster care have experienced 5 or more school transfers. On average, students lose 4-6 six months of academic progress with each school change. On average only 60% of youth aging out of foster care complete high school by age 19. Students keep copies of their own academic documents in a portfolio.  The portfolio also documents their achievements and strengths and helps outline a path for academic success.

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3.    Portfolio development builds independent living skills.

A child in foster care moves an average of seven times.  Different families and different institutional placements have different goals, values and rules.  Broken relationships often result in a gap in acquiring basic life skills.  Critical thinking, organizational, time management, planning, and goal setting skills and are required for successful portfolio development.

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4.    professional portfolio requires the use of correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

A portfolio contains essential employment documents such as an up to date cover letter and resume. Understanding the power of (social) media and the importance of building a strong personal brand are covered in our Packaged For Success Youth Portfolio Development Program.

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5.    Portfolio development promotes personal connections.

If a teen ages out of foster care without a permanent family, their housing, medical assistance, and other needed services come to an abrupt end and they are forced to rely on themselves – whether they are ready or not.  A portfolio contains letters of recommendation, personal references, and a record of activities and community service all of which require teens to remain connected to supportive adults. 

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Nicki Sanders, MSW, Chief Visionary Officer

The Teen Toolbox utilizes youth portfolio development and civic engagement and academic empowerment strategies to help teens set goals for life after high school and create a road map to reach those goals through its PACKAGED FOR SUCCESS™ Programs.  We are committed to supporting and raising awareness about the needs and potential of teenagers in the foster care system.


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Comments 2

  • You are on the cutting edge with the call for portfolios. I particularly like your idea of utilizing a portfolio with kids that need a record that stays attached to them no matter where they go when they may call many places home over the years. Digital portfolios will catch on with everyone before long. Good for you in looking out for those who need it most first!

    • Thank you Donovan for reading and commenting. You are correct about digital portfolios and here at the Teen Toolbox we are building a solid foundation with “phase 1” of Packaged For Success but there is definitely more to come. Stay tuned…

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