Headed for Homelessness

*Names and images are not actual and are chosen to protect the privacy of the individuals represented.

Five months ago, Brian’s social worker contacted Second Shift and asked if we could assist Brian in transitioning to independence. She informed us that Brian was autistic and would need consistent support and assistance to age out successfully. He had no caring adult to help him. He had no where to go. He had no driver’s license and no car. He was anxious and low on self-esteem. He had no life skills to survive on his own and he had just four months left in foster care.

Brian did have a job however. His employment and ability to work was a strength. But it limited us in where he could live. Brian had to live near his job, so he could continue working at the work he was trained in. And Brian would need to live WITH his mentor. This is not Second Shift’s usual program. We encourage the youth to become independent. They don’t usually live with the mentoring family, but this case would be different.

We said we would do everything we could, but we knew we would need a miracle. So we prayed for a miracle and went to work.

We conducted a county-wide outreach.  We contacted churches and utilized social media to try to reach anyone who could help. We had many people say they wished they could help but for one reason or another they could not.

With one month to go Second Shift made a connection with Gary, our mentor extraordinaire. With only weeks to go Gary said an enthusiastic YES!  Due to the urgency we could not even wait for the next training class before Brian would be leaving care so Second Shift conducted training one-on-one to prepare Gary to step in to the role of Mentoring Family for Brian.

On Brian’s 21st Birthday he left care, safely, successfully, and connected. Brian has a comfortable home and someone to help him with transportation, cooking and budgeting. But most importantly Brian has belonging. He knows there is someone in the world who cares for him and will be there.

Oh and the miracle… we didn’t just facilitate attachment between a youth in need and a supportive caring adult. We connected two people who belong together. Brian and his mentoring parent are both serious Batman fans and toy collectors. They are both funny and enjoy each other’s sense of humor. And now, they are family.

You can be the “family” that a youth needs to survive.

By Tammy Spence, LMSW, CCTP, Executive Director

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.

Photo credit: Pixabay

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