Turning 18 is the pinnacle of freedom for most youth, but for foster teens it means aging out of the system and losing their support network. The extra support can mean the difference in reaching independent success hence the creation of the innovative Transitional Housing Placement-Plus Program for Foster Teens.
Mountain Circle Family Services contracts with Plumas and Lassen counties to provide the program to young adults 16-24 who are emerging from the foster care system and who wish to continue learning independent living skills. Young adults in the program have the opportunity to gain valuable life skills while experiencing the greatest amount of freedom possible. The program offers support, training and guidance. This is provided through three different models; the Community Home Model with a live-in adult Youth Advocate, the Host Home Model, with a certified foster parent or the Independent Apartment Model. All young adults in the program attend an educational program, have a job, savings and checking account and learn other crucial independent living skills.
Mountain Circle has about ten participants each year and those teens learn quickly that there are no short cuts to reaching their goals, but that Mountain Circle is here to support the youth along the way. The most successful participants are the individuals with a good work ethic who have an appreciation for education and learning new skills” said Curtis Weight, THP Program Director.
Brothers, Lalo and Oscar Romero have experience with the THP program in Plumas County. Lalo, age 22 is currently in the program and attending Feather River College and Oscar, age 19 was a participant for three years who recently left to attend college in Santa Cruz. Lalo and Oscar have these important characteristic, but they also attribute their success in the program to their mentors.
“Curtis Weight, Shauna Rossington and Mary Berry were the ones that convinced me to go into the program, they all stand out to me and had a big impact in my life” said Lalo.
“Due to the amazing support and guidance of his Host Home, Oscar thrived from the time of his initial placement with them. Oscar came into the program lacking direction and self-confidence but left with a plan for achieving his goals and the self-knowledge that he can achieve anything he puts his mind to” said Linda Pettit, Senior Social Worker for Oscar.
The THP program isn’t all work and no play for the teens; it is about archiving balance in life and learning from mistakes—turning experiences into fuel for future goals.
“It has been a fun experience. I got to go back to school and spend more time with my son. Also, I get to go snowboarding every year with amazing people” said Lalo.
Every spring, Mountain Circle takes all foster kids ages 14 and up (many THP participants) on a “Powder Quest” adventure where the young adults learn to ski or snowboard while learning leadership and team work skills. The Powder Quest Program is funded by proceeds of Mountain Circle’s annual Boston qualifier fundraiser, Running with the Bears Marathon, ½ Marathon & 10k being held on August 16th, 2014. (www.runningwiththebears.org)
Mountain Circle is looking for more young adults who are willing to be involved in this rewarding program and families to be certified as Host Homes. If you have any questions or would like to donate to the Powder Quest Program please call 530-284-7007 and visit www.mountaincircle.org.
Mountain Circle Family Services is a non-profit community based organization, committed to ensuring stability and life sustaining changes for foster and adoptive children.