Supporting Adolescents through Empowerment by fionan


									Strengthening Adolescents
Families through Empowerment

  The Children’s Home Society of NJ,
  Trenton, NJ
  Teresa Januska, LSW
My Agency
   The Children’s Home Society of NJ is a non-profit private
    agency that promotes the welfare of children, adolescents
    and parents throughout NJ and adjacent areas of PA. It is a
    comprehensive counseling, placement and child care
    agency that has been serving NJ and PA since 1894.
   Some of the many services and programs CHS of NJ offers
    includes but is not limited too:
        Adoption Services-International, Domestic, Post
    Adoption Counseling and Supportive Services
        Birth Parent Counseling, Supporting Adolescents
    Families Through Empowerment, Kids Intervention with
    Kids in Schools, Intensive Services Program, Respite Care
    and Counseling, Child Care Services and FACES-New
    Jersey’s Family and Children Early Education Services
Why the need for Supportive
Housing Programs
 In the year 2005 my program received 30 referrals
  for pregnant and parenting teens in need of housing-
  ranging in between the ages of 12-18 years of age
 From January 2006 until present my program
  received 40 referrals for pregnant and parenting need
 As you can see the need for supportive housing
  programs for young mothers and their children is
 Unfortunately my program was unable to house all of
  these referrals due to the number of foster homes
  available and the length of time each teen and their
  child remain in these homes (Tend to be long term)
What happens to those young
moms who don’t get placed in
 Some of the young women are placed in
  shelters for homeless families
 Some of the young women have to be
  separated from their child due to space in
  available foster homes in New Jersey
 Some have to remain in the unstable
  homes they reside in until placement is
 About 85% of these young women are
  separated from their children simply
  because there is no supportive housing
  available that can accommodate both mom
  and baby
What is SAFE and Who does it
 SAFE is a therapeutic, teaching foster home
  program for pregnant teens, teenage
  mothers and their children
 SAFE consists of foster parents selected by
  licensed social workers who have received
  state training, successfully gone through
  extensive home studies and background
  checks and who are willing and open to
  care for young pregnant and parenting
  teens in need
What is SAFE and Who does it
 The SAFE program is designed for young
  women in the DYFS system who are in
  need of housing, supportive services,
  social services, education, and assistance
  with learning to live and parent
 The SAFE program serves DYFS involved
  pregnant adolescents and parenting
  adolescents between the ages of 12 and
  21 years of age and their children.
Location of SAFE Homes
 Presently SAFE has foster
  homes located in Mercer
  County, Burlington
  County, Camden County
  and Ocean County
 SAFE does serve all of NJ
  and accepts pregnant and
  parenting teens from any
  Division Office in NJ
How Referral Process Works
 DYFS worker makes call to SAFE
  worker to request placement of
  pregnant and/or parenting teen-
  Gives age, name, location of teen
  and any background information
  DYFS worker is aware of so that
  SAFE worker may properly assess
  teen in question for placement
Referral Process
 If there are no openings available, teen mom and
  child are placed on waiting list and will be called once
  opening becomes available
 If there are openings, DYFS worker sends over any
  history on teen mom in question including but not
  limited to any evaluations, family history, current
  situation, medical information, educational
  information/background, school records
 If teen mom is appropriate for program a meeting is
  set up at foster home with SAFE worker, DYFS
  worker, foster parent, teen mom and child for pre-
  placement interview
 All goes well-placement!!!!
Backgrounds of Clients
 About 50% of the young mothers entering
  the SAFE program have been in foster care
  (either foster homes or group homes) for
  most of their adolescent lives due to the
  issues of their birth parents-commonly drug
  abuse and neglect
 They become pregnant in foster care and
  then require additional supports their
  current foster home can not provide for
  mom and baby
Background of Clients
 About 35% of these young mothers enter
  the program due to the instability or
  unhealthy conditions they are currently
  living in. Most common scenario-Teen
  mom is residing with birth family that has
  little support, finances and/or stability
 This situation may be acceptable by DYFS
  for teen residing there but once teen
  becomes pregnant DYFS rules family unable
  to care for baby and mom
Background of Clients
 The remaining 15% of the young
  moms that enter the SAFE program
  are involved with DYFS due to their
  own inability to care for baby
  appropriately and are given the
  opportunity to reunite with their child
  and learn appropriate parenting skills
What Services are Offered???
   While in the SAFE program these young moms and their
    children receive services geared towards teaching them how to
    remain a healthy family unit and live safe, stable lives
   Some of the services offered are:
        -Supportive, safe foster homes
        -Parenting Education
        -Assistance in obtaining High School diploma, assistance
    w/education plan
        -Child Care
        -Independent Living Skills Training
        -Health Care, assistance in following up with medical appts.
        -Vocational and Employability training, Career
        Maintenance of positive family relations
Who Is Involved???
 The SAFE program is made up of two
  licensed social workers, a nurse
  educator, foster parent(s), licensed and
  certified supervisory team
 The social workers meet at least once a
  week with foster family and adolescent
  mom and their children
 Social workers work in collaboration with
  DYFS workers, school personnel,
  counselors, child care centers, health
  care workers, social service agencies
  and birth families to advocate fully for
  the client’s needs
Additional supports provided
through SAFE
 Employability Program-Consists of training these
  young women through workshops on employability
  skills such as resume writing, interview skills, reading
  the classifieds, filling out an application, mapping out
  their career paths
 Summer Employment Program-CHS obtained a fund
  from a generous couple that allows CHS to pay these
  young women minimum wage for up to 30 hours a
  week at any place of employment they acquire in the
  community-This program opens up a lot of job
  opportunities and training opportunities that would
  not normally be available to the average teen looking
  for a job for it is in a sense free labor for the
Additional Supports Provided
through SAFE
 Workshops throughout the year on
  various areas of skills/support for
  Teenage Moms Some examples are:
   Domestic Violence
   CPR Training
   How to Dress/Present yourself
   STD’s and Proper Health Maintenance for
    Young Women
   Budgeting/How to Utilize Banks
More Supports/Trainings!!!
 Social Skills/Cultural-Yearly trip to New
  York City where the young moms
  participate in workshops given by Broadway
  actors/actresses followed by matinee on
  Broadway (Past shows include-Aida, Rent,
  and Chicago) and lunch at restaurant in
  theater district
      This is a great experience for these young
       women-most have never been to a show or
       exposed to this type of event-A lot of the girls
       tell me that after this trip they become more
       interested in theater
And more….
 Yearly trip to Sesame Place with Mom
  and babies to teach young mothers
  proper age appropriate activities for
  their children and to give them ideas
  on different ways to spend quality
  time with their children
 Various day trips to local colleges and
  technical schools
Length of stay in Program
 On average most pregnant/parenting
  moms enter at the age of 16 years old
  and can remain in program until the
  maximum age of 21 years old as long as
  they are in an educational or vocational
  training program
 Some girls do chose to leave after
  reaching the age of 18 or when they
  finish their high school diploma
Transitional Services
 The SAFE program does offer transitional
  services for those young moms and their
  children who are exiting the program
 Six months before projected closing date
  aftercare options are examined including
  but not limited to: Available family
  members, low income apartment rentals,
  transitional living programs, and public
Transitional Services
 Other areas that are looked before
  exiting out of program with young
  moms are job opportunities in
  their community, linking mom to
  community resources, assisting
  mom in locating local doctors,
  daycare and public transportation
  if needed
Follow up
 Six months after exiting program
  young mothers are asked to fill out a
  questionnaire asking their current
  living situation, job status, daycare
  status, financial situation and if child
  and mom are still together
 About 75% of the young moms who
  exit the program still keep in contact
  with their SAFE worker to inform them
  from time to time what their status is
 The chances of successfully living independently with
  their children tend to depend on the length of stay in
  the program
 Young moms who reside in the program past their
  18th birthday tend to have higher success rates than
  those young moms that exit program at age 18 due to
  those staying longer receive supportive services and
  usually enroll in college or vocational training after
  they graduate high school so that when they exit
  program they are equipped with solid work skills and
  more advanced employability skills
Case Examples
   Mary entered the program at the age of 16 with two
    children ages three and one. She was a difficult case for
    she was very rebellious and often put her needs and desires
    before her children. At one point DYFS decided to remove
    Mary from the SAFE program and place her children with
    her parents. Fortunately this motivated Mary to get back
    on track and she requested she be placed back in the SAFE
    program with her children and given a second chance.
    Mary went on to receive her GED and home health aide
    certificate while she was in the program. At the age of 21
    years old she successfully completed the program and
    moved into a 2 bedroom apartment with her children. She
    was able to secure employment as a home health aid
    through the job placement program at the school she
    attended. Mary is still living with her two children who are
    doing well in school and involved in extracurricular activities
    without the assistance of public welfare and no DYFS
Case Examples
 Linda and her son entered the SAFE program at the
  age of 17 years old. She had left her son with a
  inappropriate caregiver when DYFS entered her life.
  At the time she was residing with her father,
  stepmother and siblings. At the request of her
  stepmother she was placed in a SAFE foster home
  with her son. From the beginning Linda was
  determined to show her stepmother and DYFS that
  she was able to parent her son independently and
  provide a stable home for the two of them. She
  immediately took advantage of all services offered to
  her and successfully completed all parenting classes,
  independent living skill classes and graduated from
  high school within a year and a half of entering
Case example cont’d
 Linda then enrolled and was accepted at a
  local community college where she is taking
  courses to prepare her for the local police
  academy so she can fulfill her dream of
  becoming a detective. While Linda was in the
  program and finishing high school she worked
  part time at a local diner and managed to
  save enough money to purchase a used car
  and put a deposit down on an apartment.
  She is currently residing with her son in that
  apartment, attending college and still working
  as a waitress at that same diner. Her son
  attends the local Head Start program and
  continues to thrive in her care.
Contact Information
 If interested in more information
  on the SAFE program you may
  contact Teresa Januska, LSW at:

    The Children’s Home Society of NJ
     635 So. Clinton Ave.
     Trenton, NJ 08611
     609-695-6274, ext. 179

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