The Bridge Family Center operates five Short-Term Assessment & Respite (STAR) homes in West Hartford, Southington, Manchester, Wolcott, and Harwinton.
All STAR homes have a licensed bed capacity of six (nine in West Hartford) girls or boys (Wolcott is for boys and the other four for girls) ages 11-18 who receive assessment and clinical services in a small, structured home-like setting. The goal of the homes is to provide a high quality of care for every youth served. This means providing for, or advocating for, every need that a child has when she/he enters the program. Those needs include shelter, food, clothing, medical and dental care, counseling and family reconciliation support, primary education, life skills training, drug and sex education, and recreational and social activities.Community Outreach and Education
Bridge STAR homes assist residents in getting to know about the communities they are living in and the services offered there. Girls/boys are taught basic community life skills, such as how to use the library and the post office, how to grocery shop, how to schedule appointments, how to fill out job applications, and how to interview for a job. Health education is provided formally and informally, and individually as well as in a group format. All residents attend health-related educational groups provided by the staff nurse, including subjects such as reproductive health issues, use of medication, etc.
Staff members encourage and help with resident participation in school functions; e.g., sporting events, cheerleading, and dances. Whenever possible, the shelter assists with financial payments associated with the events, such as the purchase of a prom dress or sporting equipment.Referrals
Twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, Bridge STAR homes are accessible to girls/boys from throughout Connecticut. The majority are from Hartford, West Hartford, New Britain, Manchester, Southington, or Meriden and attend school in their hometown or in the shelter community. Referrals come from the State Department of Children and Families, juvenile courts, friends, schools, social workers, police, parents, and young people themselves. Anyone who knows an adolescent girl/boy in crisis may refer her to the shelter. In order to stay at the shelter, all young people must have permission from a legal guardian and must agree to follow house rules.
The target length of stay for girls/boys is 30-45 days. A primary responsibility of the STAR home is to prepare young people for their next placement, whether it is reunification with their family, placement with a foster family, or placement at a group home. Some of the girls/boys could transition to other Bridge residential programs.Staffing
STAR homes are staffed 24 hours a day; at least two staff are on duty at all times. Each home has a Program Director and a Clinical Coordinator, as well as a part-time nurse and limited psychiatric hours. All staff members are trained in applying the Relational Model and are certified to administer medications and CPR. All staff must obtain certification in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI), a 30-hour course focused on basic counseling skills and verbal de-escalation. Mike Rulnick, MPA, the director of residential services, oversees the STAR homes.
Freymann House (West Hartford STAR Home)
(most recently the Bridge Youth Shelter and originally Junction 1019) opened in West Hartford in 1978. It has been one of the Bridge's flagship programs and has been consistently full. The program director at the West Hartford shelter is Maiya Pierre, a master's level social worker who has worked with both girls and boys at DCF and as a program director at a group home.
Though STAR homes typically have 6 beds, the West Hartford home has 3 additional beds for young people who are not involved in the state system of care.
The home was renamed Freymann House in October 2013 in honor of the woman most responsible for its beginning, Ruth Freymann. In 1971, Ruth volunteered at the Bridge, then a fledgling grassroots organization. She later became a board member, and eventually the second executive director of the Bridge from 1975-1980. Ruth secured a federal grant that helped to stabilize and expand the Bridge. She struggled through controversy to open a temporary shelter for teen runaways and was finally successful in December of 1978.
Program DirectorMaiya Pierre
Miller House (Manchester STAR Home)
The program director at Miller House is Jennifer Charbonnier. Jennifer is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) with 25 years experience with youth and their families in different settings.
Miller House is named for Ki Miller, a longtime Bridge friend, volunteer, and Board member. If it's for children, Ki's there. She served as a mentor to children in a Bridge leadership program for middle school students. She has been on countless committees to provide community services and raise awareness and money for the children and families we serve. Ki has many gifts, but the Bridge especially cherishes her wise counsel around issues that arise.
Miller HouseJennifer Charbonnier
Program DirectorWinifred House (Southington STAR Home)
The program director at the Southington STAR home, Winifred House, is Marisa Giaccotto. Marisa is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW); she earned her Master's degree in Social Work (MSW) from Southern Connecticut State University and holds a Post-Master's Certificate in Clinical Issues in Adoption from the University of Connecticut. She was the clinical coordinator at Winifred House from February 2009-October 2011. Prior to that she was a clinician working with therapeutic foster care and adopted youth in the greater Bridgeport area.
Winifred House is named for Winifred Rohrbaugh, a clinician in our Bridge Youth Shelter and Youth and Family Services department for many years, who worked magic with young people and families. Winnie modeled the notion that it is far better to look for good in people than to focus on their flaws. She shared her gifts of wisdom, unconditional love, honesty, compassion, humor, and a passion for social justice.
Winifred HouseMarisa Giaccotto
, MSW, LCSW
Hastings House (Wolcott STAR Home)
The program director at the Wolcott STAR Home, Hastings House, is Tracy Denton, a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) with a concentration in case work and group work. Tracy has worked for the past ten years in adolescent
Hastings House is named after George Hastings, one of the founding fathers of the Bridge and a longtime Bridge Board member and friend. George has advocated for young people and their families in many arenas, including the court room as an attorney. He is courageous, caring, and insightful; he shares his wise counsel without hesitation; he gives his time, opens his heart, and shares his humor with all of us. The Bridge is built on George's commitment to social justice.
Hastings HouseTracy Denton
Program DirectorHarwinton STAR Home
Contact information:Mike Rulnick, MPADirector of Residential Services