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Spring is an exciting time for all high school seniors: college selection, making new friends while saying goodbye to old ones, graduation, and of course, prom. Deon*, being a young adult in the foster care system, was excited but faced unique challenges — where he could get ready for the big dance and where he was going to live once he turned 18.
Deon was adopted as an infant but ended up in the custody of the Department of Children and Families at age 13 and was bounced throughout the system for years. During his senior year, Deon’s foster family wasn’t a great fit for the charismatic teen. Luckily, he found refuge at The Home’s Young Adult Resource Network (YARN). Deon took full advantage of YARN, a drop-in center in Dorchester, including meeting with a life coach, participating in activities like mock interviews, using computers for homework, and more.
It was a night he wasn't defined as a "foster care kid" but just a high school senior.
It was almost time for prom and Deon had everything he needed — a date, a suit, a limo, and flowers — but he needed an actual place to get ready. Described as ‘super sweet’ by YARN staff, Deon approached Ronya, the program’s Assistant Director, and asked if he could get ready for the dance at the program. The day of the dance, he showered, styled his hair, and got dressed at YARN. Ronya pinned his boutonniere on and took photos of the proud teen. Deon met his date down the street and hopped into the limo with his friends. It was a night he wasn’t defined as a “foster care kid” but just a high school senior.
Since then, Deon has graduated high school and is living at Roxbury Village, an independent living program at The Home. As part of The Home’s Permanency Initiative, which focuses on finding at least one permanent connection for all youth in our care, Deon was connected with his biological mother and much younger siblings. Even though he was nervous at first, Deon told Ronya he felt a connection with the family. As Deon figures out what comes next in life and what type of relationship he wants with his biological mom and siblings, The Home will be his safe place to land.
*Names and identifying information have been changed to protect our clients
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. Here at The Home our residential programs help children who have experienced child abuse and neglect, but what many do not know is 11 of our community-based programs are focused on strengthening families to prevent abuse or neglect from happening in the first place. Statistics show that 75% of children who experience maltreatment have been neglected and children under three-years old make up more than 25% of all victimized children.
In response to these troubling statistics, The Home has launched our Center for Early Childhood, comprised of three programs which focus on strengthening children and their families during the most critical years of childhood. Often parents are lacking the tools they need to successfully parent. The Rice Center and The Preschool Outreach Program, both within The Center for Early Childhood, deliver clinical services that help parents understand their children’s brain and cognitive development and how to support appropriate social and emotional learning. We believe all parents love their children but many, especially when facing difficult socio-economic barriers, need help forming healthy, stable relationships.
The Home is proud to offer services that can change the trajectory of a family’s behavior for a lifetime while also being the expert resource for early educators regarding Social and Emotional Learning, Early Childhood Mental Health, and Trauma-informed care.
Joan Wallace-Benjamin, Ph.D.
A few days before the New Year, seven students and two staff members from our Academic Support for College and Life (ASCL) boarded a plane for a service trip to Cape Verde. It was going to be a trip of a lifetime thanks to The Home.
All the young adults at ASCL have lived within the child welfare system and receive specialized supports and services from The Home’s program at Bridgewater State University. International travel is a distant dream for most of them, until they learn of the opportunity for the program’s annual service trip. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, ASCL staff are able to coordinate an 8-day trip, which includes visits to Se Fende, Cape Verde’s poorest community, an orphanage, and a drug treatment center, as well as excursions to the beach and a traditional African market. One of the most difficult parts of planning is applying for the students’ passports, as many don’t have access to their original birth certificates.
The trip was full of memorable moments and offered times of reflection for the young adults. “I appreciate living in the United States more and being able to get an education and have clean water,” said Reggie, one of the students. Abbey, who had never been on a plane before the trip, shared that her favorite parts were “the fresh coconuts on the beach,” and volunteering with the young children at the orphanage. She treasures the bracelet she was given by two young boys there. One student accomplished a lifelong goal in Cape Verde — learning how to swim!
The opportunity of travel and service is truly an extraordinary experience for the young adults at ASCL.
The Home, America’s oldest child welfare agency, is proud of its partnership with Boston’s oldest (and finest) thrift shop, The Thrift Shop of Boston. The Thrift Shop, a non-profit 501c3 that donates its end-of-year distributions to The Home, has contributed well over $1 million to support our children and families, including $125,000 in 2017! Low cost clothing, furniture, books, and household goods can be found on its shelves, making it an important resource to many families throughout Boston. Over the past two years, The Home has expanded our partnership by sharing space with The Thrift Shop to operate our holiday Big Wishes Toy Room and our New Start furniture distribution program. We are so thankful for the support and growing relationship.
New Start Program
Young adults who ‘age out’ — turn 18 while in the custody of the Department of Children Families — have little to no support system. If they are lucky enough to secure independent housing, they struggle to fill their apartment with basic necessities. New Start provides those basics — beds, mattresses, bureaus, couches — to these young adults as they venture into the next chapter of their lives. Recently, Jay,* a young man, moved from a group home in Central Massachusetts to The Home’s transitional age youth program Roxbury Village. Leaving a group home setting, all Jay had were his clothes. New Start was able to help him by supplying the necessities for his new apartment, including an end table, a lamp, new sheets, and towels. The Home is looking forward to growing the New Start program to support more young adults and families.
For more than 15 years, The Home has prioritized programming for Transitional Age Youth. We’re thrilled to announce the Liberty Mutual Foundation has joined our mission by awarding The Home a $40,000 donation to support our Young Adult Resource Network (YARN) and Roxbury Village. Over the past decade, Liberty Mutual has been a great corporate partner with The Home, helping to support some of the most vulnerable children and families in Massachusetts.
An average of 85 children suffer abuse or neglect each day.
Experiencing maltreatment as a child can affect youth for their lifetime, including negative impacts on their physical, social and emotional health, learning, and relationship building.
Beyond its intervention service for children who have experienced trauma due to abuse and neglect, The Home works to strengthen families through intensive counseling and family support services.
Information from www.acf.hhs.gov