Mainstream Living

TAY - Transition Age Youth

Mainstream Living's Transition Age Youth program (referred to as TAY) program started in April of 2009 and is the only one in the State of Iowa that provides 24 hour community living supports to specifically to this age group.  Since May 1, 2013, 55 young adults have been served by this program - in most cases they moved into a less costly more independent setting.  We strive to work with agencies prior to a person's 18th birthday to facilitate smooth transition into adult services.  Program members come from foster care, PMIC's (group homes for children with Mental illness), and family homes to name a few.  These individuals are chronically depressed, anxious, impulsive, and/or traumatized by their life experiences.   It is not uncommon for these young adults to come from homes that lacked consistency, or included parental neglect, criminal activity and chaotic lifestyles. Many members have been physically and/or sexually abused and some have been abandoned by their families. 


The TAY program is designed to provide a quality learning/skill building experience for 17 individuals aged 17-1/2-25 years old, in a transitional living environment that facilitates growth and self-sufficiency.  Our program is unique from other programs in that we focus on diversion from lifelong reliance on public assistance in a time-limited, intense environment.  With that in mind we track the number of program admissions, length of stay and if individuals transitioned to a less costly environment.  The program is based on the Next Wise Choice (NWC) program.


NWC is a non-profit with a mission to improve the quality of life for individuals facing limiting or destructive behaviors. We do this by effectively assessing an individual’s current situation, develop a substantial plan for the future, and equip with tools to increase skills and repair limiting belief systems.


We conduct assessments to determine the current status and repeat in six month intervals to measure progress. Goals are established which becomes their Individualized Personal Plan (IPP) and a person begins their ‘program’ or services. The program is broken into three components: PATTERNS, principles and life skills. PATTERNS is an acrostic representing eight areas of self-care. Without good self-care habits, an individual is less likely to engage and/or retain information presented. The areas of self-care are:


Personal reflection

Attention to mental health

Tending to physical health

Time management


Re-charging self




The principles are eight timeless and universal principles involved in all choices we make and are shown below. Each section of information presented includes a pre/post assessment. These assessments are behavioral-based vs. knowledge-based as we believe that application of information is critical for long-term success.


Beliefs drive behaviors

Choices and consequences






Effective long-term goals


Life skills are tools that are used to cope with challenges, increase critical thinking and solve problems. We categorize skills in four areas as noted below. A person uses one or more of these skills in making any choice.


Internal skills

External skills

Relational skills

Unsolvable skills


We educate on brain development and neuroscience and its role in the brain for the formation of belief systems that drive our behaviors. Information is also presented on eight basic emotions to educate what the purpose of the emotion is, how to identify the message behind it, how to challenge invalid messages, how the emotion affects the body and the after-effects of the emotions. The material used supports Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Tools are presented in all sections to develop and master life skills in addressing circumstances.


We work toward providing an atmosphere where they can feel safe enough to share their heart without fear of judgment or reprimand. Staff are trained on the practices, principles and life skills to help members navigate  them to explore belief systems that limit their freedom and identify external resources for support


We are continually working to break down biases and stigmas by educating the public on how life experiences shape a person’s ability, or inability, to live up to the expectations and norms of those around them. We also work hard to help our members understand how their life experiences have shaped their view of the world and give credence to the ways they’ve coped for survival while. At the same time, we grieve the losses they’ve had, we teach new skills and strategies while we move them into the life they’ve identified for themselves.

© 2024 Mainstream Living, Inc.