Building on its longtime commitment to youth who have grown up in group care and foster homes, Child & Family has announced a new program to assist Rhode Island teens who “age out” of the child welfare system without a permanent living arrangement. Approximately 80 such young people aged out of care this past year in Rhode Island, while the number was 140 in 2015. According to a brief issued by Rhode Island KIDS COUNT in October, 2017, without stable adult connections and a degree of continued support, these youth exiting foster care are unlikely to advance their educations and are ill-prepared to find safe, affordable housing and employment — all critical to achieving a smooth transition from foster care to independent adulthood. Professionals in the field agree that without some degree of continued assistance, many of the youth exiting foster care, already disadvantaged by past personal, family and financial difficulties, will have great difficulty achieving stability in housing and employment.
Child & Family has launched its Bridge to Success Independent Living Program (ILP) with a 3 year, $100,000 per year grant from the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation to provide a safe place for the young program participants to live and receive guidance and training as they work towards self-sufficiency. Support and supervision will be provided by a Child & Family ILP case manager who will work closely with each young client to ensure they are progressing in the program. ILP support services will include: secure housing, educational guidance, employment counseling, life skills training, assistance in developing community ties and access to health care systems. The goal is to build the program to serve up to thirty clients a year by year three.
Child & Family President and CEO, Marty Sinnott and his team believe strongly in the importance of guiding and supporting these vulnerable young Rhode Islanders and feel that the new ILP will complement the State’s proposed “Young Adult Voluntary Extension of Care Act,” with its potential introduction date of January, 2019. Sinnott states that “Child & Family’s Bridge to Success Independent Living Program will provide critical resources and services to foster youth 18 to 21 years old. How many of our own seventeen year-old kids, from intact families and free from major financial stress, could walk out the door on their eighteen birthdays with nothing and make it completely on their own? The proposed Extension of Care Act is an important step in restoring support that previously existed and this grant from the Centreville Bank Charitable Foundation will help build better policy and practice.” Centreville Bank CEO Thomas Lamb added, “We are pleased to support this initiative which is designed to ensure positive outcomes for these young people, who have faced many challenges early in life.”