In 1988, we created the Independent Living Programs, to help older teens develop a high level of self-sufficiency as they transition from dependent to independent living. These programs are overseen by our program director, Bryan Block. The three programs include:
Our Independent Living Program Staff
Bryan Block is the director of the independent living program (ILP). Bryan oversees three case managers who monitor individual participants.
Contact information:Bryan BlockIndependent Living Program Director860.597.1555
Since 1988, the Bridge Family Center has offered Community Based Life Skills (CBLS) to youth committed to the Department of Children and Families (DCF).
The program assists adolescents (16 years of age and older) referred by a DCF social worker to begin to develop a high level of self-sufficiency as they move from dependent to independent living. The CBLS program teaches a variety of life skills and acquaints young people with the resources of their communities. Participants are offered incentives to continue the program and are paid a stipend upon successful completion. The year-long program combines a core curriculum, group work, and a community-awareness segment and includes six months of individualized instruction.
The CBLS curriculum focuses on a variety of life skills. Topics covered may include:
Group discussions make the information presented in the classroom more relevant, and provide a forum where our young residents can discuss their expectations and fears about living on their own. Peer support helps relieve anxiety as they prepare for independence.
Guest speakers from the community provide useful information and serve as community models and resource contacts. Residents go on field trips to various community agencies and services that provide firsthand knowledge of job opportunities, available housing, banking services, community healthcare, etc.
The emphasis on both self-reliance and community resources helps reduce the isolation adolescents feel, as well as encouraging them to begin assuming responsibility for managing their own lives. A followup study of CBLS graduates showed that the majority are now living on their own, employed, budgeting their income, and making their own decisions. Some have gone on to college or vocational school, and many have expressed an interest in doing so in the future.
The Bridge Family Center initiated the Community Housing Assistance Program (CHAP) in 1996. This supervised, scattered site apartment program for DCF youths, 17 years and older, provides support and guidance on the final step to independent, responsible adulthood. Skill development begun in Community Based Life Skills is put into practice and youth begin to establish themselves in a community. Full-time education, part-time work, and financial savings are integral to the program.
We recently began Youth in Transition (YIT), a transitional living program for homeless and runaway youth, ages 16 to 21, including pregnant and parenting teens, who are not part of the state system of care. The goal of Youth in Transition is to successfully shift homeless youth to independent living. YIT uses a unique “step-forward” system designed to guide young people through graduated stages of increasing self-sufficiency during their participation in the program.
YIT consists of three sections which may be accessed by participants in whole or in part. Initially, the program provides resources, referrals, and support at the level needed by the young adult. Second, the youth receives life skills training. Finally, a few qualified candidates are set up in supported, semi-supervised apartments in their communities.
Youth in Transition provides the following services:
Following intake into the program, each participant is assigned a case manager who coordinates services and provides referrals. During an initial meeting, the case manager begins addressing service and health needs and helps complete an Individual Transitional Living Plan (ITLP). This plan provides an outline of personal goals and program activities to build skills and reinforce strengths. The case manager will meet at least weekly with each resident admitted to the YIT program.